Grow your own!

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Growing your own food can be the best thing we can do for our health and the environment. But it can be a daunting prospect if you haven’t done it before and think you don’t know much about gardening.

Please believe me when I say YOU CAN DO IT

Start small with easy to grow herbs like parsley, mint and oregano. Graduate to easy to grow vegies like tomatoes, cucumbers and capsicums or chillies. There’s no underestimating how chuffed you’ll be to have grown your own food, plus you’ll save $ and reduce plastic packaging, transport and refrigeration costs which all cost the earth.

Here’s why you should grow your own:

1. Growing food is good for you. Science is now uncovering what we gardeners have known for centuries: It’s good for our physical and mental health! That’s why we love it so much and don’t see it as a chore. Growing food:
-helps destress us (0)
-could help reduce weight (people who garden have lower body mass index or BMI) (1)
-reduces depression and anxiety (2)
-improves our satisfaction with life (3)
-increases our sense of community (4)
-can improve your diet (5)

2. More vitamins. Although the mineral content of your home grown food will vary depending on the soil you use, the vitamin content will be through the roof compared with anything you buy, even from the farmer’s market. Vitamins (in general) degrade rapidly, so less time between picking and eating = more vitamins. (6) (7)

3. Less plastic packaging. Like it or not, most of our fresh produce is packed in some form of plastic. Even celery that is laid fresh on the shelf with no plastic sleeve has either been wrapped in a big plastic bag in it’s crate or in a non-recyclable box that was ‘waxed’ with petrochemicals. This is especially true for leafy food like herbs and salad greens, but increasingly food like chillies are being packed up in little plastic cartons. When we grow our own, there’s no need for that plastic – we can pick what we need just before we need it.

4. Less energy. This is one of the best benefits as far as I’m concerned. There are so many ways that growing your own food means less energy. There is no farm machinery required to grow the food or to transport it to the wholesale market, or from the wholesale market to the retailer, or from the retailer to your home. There’s no refrigeration required in all of that transport either. Here in the west, much of our fresh food comes from the eastern states and that means thousand of kilometres of refrigerated transport. The energy cost is massive.

5. Save money! 10g of parsley sells for $1.99, so $199/kg. That’s expensive stuff! Growing your own food definitely saves you money if you choose expensive and easy to grow food.

Here’s how:
Start small and achievable. If you’ve never grown anything in your life, start with a pot of mint, parsley, oregano, thyme, rosemary, bay leaves or chillies. Herbs and chillies are expensive to buy but add loads of flavour. And they can all be grown in pots – just make sure the pot is big enough and they get enough water.

If you’ve got a corner of the garden that needs a little something, think about planting something edible instead. There are loads of edible flowers too – we like to add them to the top of salads and to decorate cakes. Did you know you can eat the following flowers:
Rose petals
Elderflower
Violets
Calendula petals
Daylilies
Begonias (these are sweet/sour – I love them!)

In our little 600m Forager garden here in Fremantle, we find the following pretty bomb proof and easy to grow:
Parsley (of course!)
Mint
Thyme
Oregano
Rosemary
Bay leaves
Curry leaves
Kaffir lime (for the leaves)
Chillies
Lemon balm (for tea)
Lemon verbena (for tea)
Sweet potato (purple skinned white ones)
Olives (home made olives are the best!)
Lemons
Limes
Mulberries
Oranges
Cumquats
Loquats
Figs
Icecream bean
Water chestnuts

With a bit more patience/knowledge/effort we can pretty easily grow:
Strawberries (so good and such a $ saver)
Blueberries
Blackberries
Passionfruit
Nectarines
Custard apples
Bananas
Pawpaw
Feijoa
Finger lime
Arrowroot
Grapes
Edible flowers
Edible natives

Not that much of the fruit sees the kitchen – the kids get in there first and I’m not far behind!

And that is before any kind of vegie patch is planted. Honestly, it’s not as hard as you might think – give it a go! (and if you have any questions, ask away – I could natter on about gardening all day long).

References:

0. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1359105310365577

1. https://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.2012.301009

2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2211335516301401

3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2211335516301401

4. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2211335516301401

5. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10900-011-9522-z

6. http://www.aerogardenblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/White-Paper.pdf

7. http://www.fruitandvegetable.ucdavis.edu/files/197179.pdf

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