Grow Your Own


Food, that is!

Why, what were you thinking???

Anyway, you don’t have to be a green thumb to grow some of your food. Even if you only have a windowsill or balcony, you can chuck a few herbs or vegies in a pot (or just mint for cocktails ;-).

You can even grow some vegies indoors!

How? Get a mushroom kit from nurseries or some hardware stores, keep it damp and voila – cut as needed once they grow up.

You can also grab some alfalfa, mung bean etc. seeds, whack them in a jar then cover with a clean piece of stocking (yep, ladies, finally there’s something to do with laddered stockings), and fasten with a rubber band.

Simply rinse in lukewarm water and then drain them each day (basically make sure they don’t dry out) and leave in a sunny-ish spot; they’ll fill the jar soon enough. Then put them in the fridge and eat within a few days.

What do I need to grow stuff?

If you want a garden but don’t have one, here’s how.

  1. Get pots from your parents or someone else with old ones stashed in the garden. Or try the local dump/recycling depot.
  2. Fill with dirt or potting mix.
  3. Plant something: seeds are by far the cheapest, but seedlings grow fastest.

Planting in pots?

For pots, tomatoes and chillis are good; strawberries also work well but you won’t get heaps, it’s more of a decorative snack than a meal, you could say.

Herbs (e.g. parsley, chives, thyme, sage, basil, rosemary, oregano) or salad greens like spinach, silver beet, lettuce and rocket don’t need much room and you can cut them whenever you need them. You can also pick off any sneaky snails easily.

A large pot of mixed herbs or lettuce looks pretty on a balcony or outdoor table – waaaay more classy than a jar of ciggie butts.

Or if you have plenty of space…

Lucky you! If you’ve got more room you could try aubergines (eggplants), capsicums (peppers), climbers (snow peas or beans), or vines (zucchinis or cucumbers) in pots or a garden, as long as the vines have space to spread and climbers have something to go up, like a trellis.

Food-sharing and community gardens: If you’re interested in getting in on the food-sharing or community garden trend, there’s likely to be something up and running in your area – web search community gardens.

Sign up on the home page and/or like LtN on social media, to see the upcoming article including links to community gardening groups in your local area.

Going away and want your plants to survive? Put a shoelace into a bucket of water and poke it in the plant, it draws up water as needed. Cool, huh?

Water-saving tips:

  • Mulch plants with leaves, newspaper, straw, sugarcane or even pebbles or bark.
  • Water deeply but less often, depending on climate and plant-type.
Natural pest control

There’s nothing more annoying than nasty little bugs gobbling up the hard earned fruits of your labour (literally). Plant strong-smelling things (like marigolds or garlic, for example) next to vegies to deter pests. This is a type of companion planting, where you plant stuff next to other complimentary plants.

You can also make a nifty spray from soap, bicarb soda, garlic and/or chilli mixed with warm water (look up “natural pest spray for plants” for recipes).

Fertilise for free:

  • Make your own compost from food-scraps (it won’t smell bad if it’s ready to use), or get a worm farm to put them in.
  • Got a small flat? A bokashi bucket sits on your bench or under the sink (and doesn’t smell), but you’ll need to buy the bucket and the bokashi mix (search online for where to get it near you).

Grown something? Try these recipes:

Pesto: Garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper, a few handfuls of herbs (basil or a mix of things), plus nuts and grated parmesan (or tasty) if you like. Pound or blend garlic and herbs, then add in nuts and go again. Season and stir in olive oil and cheese.

Roasted tomatoes: Drizzle cherry tomatoes or large tomatoes (cut side up), with oil, season and roast on about 140˚C (280˚F) for an hour or so.

Mushroom lasagne: Fry up something oniony (chopped onions, leeks or shallots) on medium heat until softened, add heaps of chopped mushrooms and some herbs and turn up high. Stir-fry a few minutes then take off heat, season and stir through sour cream and/or ricotta. Put half into an oven dish, layer with lasagne sheets (fresh or dry, cover well if dry), then tomato pasta sauce. Repeat, finishing with grated cheese(s). Bake 40 minutes at 200˚C (400˚F) until golden.

Roast or bbq-ed vegie dish: Cut up a bunch of vegies into large-ish pieces (like pumpkin, potato, sweet potato, onion, red capsicum, zucchini, leek, etc), drizzle with olive oil and roast on 200˚C (400˚F) for about an hr, turning once or twice. Or slice and chargrill on a bbq. Season and scatter with herbs and a drizzle of olive oil, or top with balsamic vinegar, then stir through plain yoghurt (1:2, vinegar: yoghurt).  

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