Growing your own vegetables is fun, easy and will reduce your environmental footprint.
Growing your own food is not only great for the environment but also for you and your family’s health, and your grocery bill!
By growing your own, you can choose the exact quantity you are after – it means you will avoid buying large bunches or bags of herbs and vegetables that often end up in the bin.
If growing your own produce like tomatoes, which can all ripen at about the same time, why not try staggering the planting over a month. This way different tomato fruits will ripen at slightly different times. Another great idea for excess produce is to make jams, preserves and chutneys.
You can grow your own fresh food on windowsills, balconies, backyards and lawn areas. If you have a small growing area, such as a balcony or courtyard, you can maximise your food production by using pots, hanging baskets, trellises or espalier techniques.
Fruit and vegetables generally grow best in an open sunny position where they receive at least six hours of sun per day. It is also a great idea to plant close to the kitchen, for easy access during cooking. Get the kids involved in planting, caring and harvesting – it is the ideal opportunity to have fun together while learning about health and the environment.
For tasty fruit and vegetables you need to feed your plants regularly. The most cost-effective fertilisers are ones you have produced in your compost bin or worm farm. Alternatively, you can buy compost or liquid fertilisers from your local supermarket or nursery. It is also important to make sure soils are kept moist with regular watering and a thick layer of mulch. Pots dry out quickly, and need extra attention to make sure they are not dry or over-watered.
Many local councils offer weekend workshops on composting, worm farming, permaculture and organic gardening. Call your local council today to find out more.
Pests and diseases can be organically controlled by planting beneficial ‘companion plants’ with your fruit and vegetables. These plants contain natural chemicals that either deter pests or attract beneficial insects and animals that prey on pests.
If you don’t have room to have your own vegetable patch, have a look at the Australian City Farms and Community Gardens Network to find your nearest community garden. You could also start a growing group with friends or neighbours, or join a local permaculture group, to swap gardening tips or surplus produce.
For some great examples of this type of community sustainability initiative visit Sustainability Street.