Home grown vegies and herbs, you know they are better for you right? I mean they are organically grown and freshly picked – just packed with nutrients and health boosting goodies!
But did you know that growing your own can deliver ever greater benefits – it is one of the best things you can do for the soul, the senses, and the environment.
Slow Down and Tune In
In our first world lifestyles, with modern transport, high tech storage warehouses, and climate and light controlled greenhouse growing systems – do we really know what is in season anymore?
I remember the anticipation of cherry harvest, and would wait excitedly for the first boxes of cherries to appear in December. These days you can buy cherries imported from all over the world, nearly all year round.
Watching something grow from a tiny seedling to a strong and healthy plant, seeing the flower bud turn into a fruit or pod, and waiting for the right time to harvest will allow you to connect with the seasons, and enhance your respect for the plant world and all its fascinating complexity. You will also appreciate that plants will germinate, grow and set fruit to their own in-built schedule, they can’t be rushed!
Expand your Repertoire
Have you ever tried a new piece of fruit while on a tropical holiday, do you remember taking time to consider the colour – the texture – the fragrance and then, the taste?
When you plant your own food producing garden, you have the opportunity to experiment with an amazing variety of heirloom and rare seed varieties. Have you ever tried a red eggplant? (they have thinner skins and make lovely fritters). Did you know that cauliflower also comes in purple? Or that mint comes in pineapple and apple fragranced varieties?
Sometimes everything happens at once and you end up with a LOT of the same produce (I always plant too many zucchini!). The thing about growing your own produce is, you get emotionally invested in the results. And there is NO WAY you are going to chuck stuff out, because you know better than anyone how much time and care it took to produce.
As a result, you will start exploring new ways of cooking and there will be zucchini frittata, zucchini pickle, zucchini walnut cake and stuffed zucchini flowers coming from your kitchen – anything to use them up!
Did you know eggplant are lovely steamed and served with hoisin sauce and toasted sesame seeds? Have you tried roasted beetroot, or grilled asparagus?
Meet your Street
I think it is really important to grow a few things in front of your place, which gets you out there watering or weeding at least once a week. This is truly one of the best ways to meet your neighbours – take the time to say hello, exchange pleasantries about the weather, or what you are growing – you never know who you will make friends with.
Growing food is a skill that many people in the older generations have, and you can get some great tips from them such as options for trellising tomatoes or natural ways of controlling snails.
Share the Love (and glory!)
If you have more tomatoes than you need right now, or buckets of lemons being picked every week – you can always find family, friends and work colleagues that will gladly take them. Even better, find a grow your own friend and trade your tomatoes for their rocket or capsicums.
Don’t be too humble, there is something really great about saying “I grew that” – say it loud and say it proud.
Reduce your Impact
How can you compare food miles when you are eating something that has travelled less than 100 metres from the garden to your kitchen? Not only are you reducing carbon use related to transport and storage – you are saving yourself time by not having to run to the shops for a bunch of coriander to finish off your salsa dish.
You won’t need a giant fridge anymore
When you grow your own leafy vegies and herbs you have the convenience of picking what you need – when you need it. You don’t have to go to the market or grocer and collect armfuls, which then need to be stored in the fridge.
Just pick what you plan to prepare and consume – when you actually need it. Did you know that once beetroots have grown to a suitable size they can sit patiently in the ground for weeks until you are ready for them. Same with Spring Onions and most herbs – it is like having your own fresh produce department out back!
It really is organically grown
Home grown means you have total control over how your food is grown, you can monitor pests and decide what action to take (if any), select the best biodynamic fertiliser options, and be 100% sure that what you pick and eat is safe from any harmful chemicals.
Growing your own produce is also great for your physical wellbeing – working in the garden will get you bending, stretching and lifting. Being out in the fresh air is refreshing and you can also boost your Vitamin D levels by getting some sun.
There are so many great reasons to start growing your own, and tasty fresh produce is only the beginning!