Growing food at home has never been easier.
We have access to so many tools and gadgets, pots and soils, seeds and seedlings. Additionally, the information we have at our fingertips in order to discover the best ways to grow particular plants, ascertain which plants to grow for the current season or what grows best in our current location is easily found on the information superhighway.
Tools of the trade
One of my all-time favourite tools for growing food particularly is the Gardenate emails. Free to sign up and you will receive monthly reminders for your region on what to plant, germinate and harvest each month.
Keep it simple
If you’re a first-timer, I’d highly recommend starting with the basics. Think basil, parsley, rocket, rosemary. These are all quick growing and relatively easy plants to grow. Another good rule of thumb is to consider if they taste good together, they often grow well together. Examples of this are mint and strawberries, or tomatoes and basil. The inputs and outputs of certain plants in the soil are complementary to each other. It’s similar to how we need oxygen and output CO2, whereas trees and plants are vice versa.
These great little URBAN grow kits are an easy way forward.
But, um, what about composting?
One highly beneficial skill for home-growing highly nutritious food is composting. Not only are you reducing organic waste and methane pollution, but you also ensure a healthy microbial balance in the soil you are growing in by using your compost. You can learn how to compost from my favourite homesteaders and permaculture educators, Milkwood. It’s probably a lot easier than you imagined.
Pots or not?
If you are starting with seeds, you can plant them inside in little teeny tiny paper pots with a seed raising soil mix (easily purchased at any garden store). You can then transplant them once they’ve grown a leaf or two. They just need somewhere warm and the sun isn’t even necessary for that. Even on top of a hot water heater is good. Pro tip: remember to water them if they are out of sight.
Both garden beds and pots are equally effective for growing at home, it mainly depends on whether you are renting or own your own place, and how much space you have. Food plants generally need around 6 hours sun per day so even if you own your own garden you may choose so you can move them around a bit and follow the sun seasonally. Watch how heavy they get once they have soil in them though – I suggest using lightweight pots if you can.
If you are building a garden bed it’s a good idea to place a layer of rocks or rubble or gravel at the bottom to ensure good drainage, and you can also put a little newspaper layer near the top as a weed-deterrent, just punch a few little holes in around the place for the seedlings to go in when you plant them.
The excitement my kids get from picking their freshly ripened veges out of our own garden and eating them is absolutely gorgeous. I’ve never seen them want to eat a baby tomato so much. It also helps them understand life cycles, patience, and best of all shows them how to grow for themselves.
It has also taught me a few things about letting them get dirty. I just have to remind myself that I then get to show them how to wash their hands and keep the dirt outside afterwards. Fun for all involved.
I just love being able to go outside and grab a few green leaves to chuck on anything I make to eat, nevermind if we forgot to buy herbs at the shops. And green leaves are so nutritious and pretty.
Go on then, what’s stopping you? I’ll link below a couple more cool little ideas for the beginner gardener that also are on the ethical side and help reduce waste.
Questions? Comment below and I am happy to help in any way I can.
Alena Turley is a founder, mentor, ethical content creator and mother of three based on Sydney's Northern Beaches. She is equal parts loved and fired up to support mums in making deep and lasting changes inside and out. We at the Soul Mama Hub acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands upon which we live, learn and create and invite you to feel deeply and tread lightly.