Life is busy, but not too busy to become complacent with what we are eating and putting in our bodies. Over the years the trend for eating locally, eating organic, eating ‘whole foods’ and eating ‘clean’ foods has grown exponentially and anyone who frequents the grower’s or farmer’s market scene knows that it costs considerably more to eat this way. The all important trade off is that you know where your produce is coming from, what conditions it has been grown in, whether or not it has been sprayed with any chemicals….PLUS, it’s fresher.
Growing your own vegetables will save you money and is great for your health. But more than that, reconnecting with nature is incredibly beneficial for our health; time in nature is shown to reduce stress, improve your mood and be soothing. Plus, it is said to improve kids attention span as nature moves at a slower pace. Today’s youth are so accustomed to things moving quickly…..busy schedules, rapid movement via screens, and instant gratification. Setting up your own vegetable garden is easy and a fun project to do with the kids. But It’s also a great way to slow down life’s pace whilst teaching them about nature.
Now, you don’t have to have a huge space to work with to get started. Prefabricated garden bed kits are readily available and super easy to assemble. Alternatively, wall hung systems are great in tiny spaces, as you use otherwise untapped real estate.
What is incredibly important to consider however, is how much sunlight your plants are going to get. Let’s face it, without sunlight, your herbs and vegetables just aren’t going to grow. Ideally your garden will need to get approximately 6 hours of sunlight a day. It is also going to require regularly watering, so make it part of your daily routine to check over your plants and give them a drink.
You can get started with a selection of your favourite herbs, and plant them at pretty much any time of the year. Think carefully about what you love to cook with and plant those! It makes no sense to have oodles of something you don’t enjoy or rarely cook with.
The same goes for your vegetables….beans, lettuce, tomatoes and peas are all easy to grow, but you should consider what you like to eat. If you live in sub tropical areas beans, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, peas, lettuce, rocket, peas, garlic and snow peas are ideal to plant throughout June. In more temperate environments try Brussel sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, beans, radish, turnips, swedes, garlic, lemongrass, mint and strawberries.
In our house, our favourite winter crops are zucchinis and coloured spinach: both take a little while to get started, but once they take off, you are left with an abundance of fresh produce. You will need to get creative in order to use your hefty harvest, but winter is a great time for making stews and soups, so you can throw a handful of each into most of your concoctions.
If you are trying your hand at beans, peas or tomatoes, try growing these at the back of your garden bed on trellises. That way you are able to harvest the produce in front easily whilst the crops are supported and out of the way.
It is a great time to get into the garden as the sun is more gentle and it makes the day far more pleasant was you are working. Things do tend to grow slower in the cooler months so it also makes an ideal time to pull out the weeds and make sure your garden is ready for spring!