Ever pause while rooting around in the pantry for that bottle of dried Italian herbs you bought 3 years ago and wish you could just get your hands on some fresh parsley? Without the $5 price tag that seems mandatory for supermarket fresh herbs these days, of course. And who doesn’t love the smell of freshly chopped basil rising up from the cutting board? Imagine you could just waltz out outside and snip as much as you need for your meal – convenient and cheap!
The benefits of growing your own food is inestimable. Those who do will assure you that there is nothing so satisfactory as needing an ingredient and as if by magic – having it on hand. The other advantage is you can design meals around what you have grown or have a glut of. Vege gardens, fruit trees and herbs are not only a good way to save money, but a great method of introducing more variety and good vitamins, minerals and fibre into your diet.
It is not until I have gotten older that I have been able to appreciate the value of homegrown food. After a steady city-girl diet of supermarket carrots for years, the fragrance and taste of one from the garden can be an almost religious experience. Perhaps you think we are exaggerating, but why else are farmer’s markets so popular? People want food that has been grown this week, not six months ago and stored in refrigeration until wheeled out under stark Woolies fluros for the masses to manhandle.
The gift of green
I have been banging on about having a vege garden for years now. Last year my father-in-law must have gotten sick of it because he got me a little garden bed as a gift, put it together and filled it with dirt. Hubby even got in on the act and set up a little sprinkler system with a timer so the risk of me forgetting to water my plants was negated!
I immediately went and bought seedlings for some things I thought we would eat regularly – zucchinis, parsley and basil. Only the zucchinis took over the whole bed and had to be pulled out because of mould. But all gardening is a lesson, they say, so we will try again with something a bit different soon. I really find pottering about with it immensely satisfying. Even just looking at the lush greenery makes your heart sing.
Recently my father, whose vege garden is always full of surprises, found himself up to his elbows in tomatoes. They just kept growing and he and my mother couldn’t possibly eat them all! So he rolled up his sleeves and made bottles and bottles of tomato relish and then saucepans of soup! And family and friends reaped the benefits – there’s nothing quite like a cold roast sandwich with homemade relish is there?
How do I start growing something?
Firstly, have a think about what you like to eat in the fruit, vege and herb line. It’s no use growing coriander if you think it tastes like soap (we’re told this is a thing). If you love hot things, chillies might be a good way to start. Have a look on a few gardening or sustainable living blogs and get a few ideas about what is feasible for your living situation.
Don’t be intimidated by the idea that you have to have a big garden bed. One of the many things I love about growing your own food is you don’t necessarily have to have a backyard garden. Growing herbs in pots is dead easy and you can plop them on the kitchen windowsill no worries. Plants like chillies, cherry tomatoes and spring onions can be quite happy in pots too. And if you have a balcony, consider a vertical set-up! They are not only a genius idea, they can be visually stunning too.
Just do it
So this weekend, we recommend a trip to the local nursery or hardware store. Or google how to grow something from a root or offcut. Give growing something green a go and let us know how you fare!