By Natasha Kuperman
Founder: My Home Harvest
I only really got serious about building a food garden when I found out I was expecting baby number one. While others focus their nesting inside the home, my focus was on reviewing seed and plant catalogues, cruising the local nursery for fruit trees, and getting hubby to build raised garden beds for our soon-to-be-planted herbs and veggies.
I had tried growing a few edibles before that – tomatoes, beans, strawberries – with varied levels of success, and I had a few herbs already in pots – parsley, rosemary & thyme. We even had a lemon tree – not a bad start. But what I was planning was a more dedicated way of contributing to family meals and being able to harvest more produce from our own backyard on a regular basis. So that was a while ago and we are now a family of four, with two girls, now 6 and 3. We have moved twice since that first garden, and our current garden is still evolving. Even through the moves we’ve been able to grow some of our own food, in one form or another, during that time. And the kids have loved it. Whether it was picking the fruit from the potted blueberries, podding their own peas picked fresh from the vegetable patch, tasting their first cherry straight from the tree, I’ve always found that family and food gardens are a natural match. So why grow your own food?
Ask any gardener and their motivation will be different. For me, it included growing heritage varieties of vegetables that I couldn’t buy, it was a reason to get myself (and the kids) outside and reconnecting with nature, the cost saving of being able to produce some of your own ‘shopping list’ and the creativity of building a garden. Most of all, as a mum, I love the zero ‘food miles’; the convenience of being able to rustle up a meal with what can be found in the freezer, pantry and the addition of fresh food and herbs from the garden, without having the drag the kids to the supermarket for a last minute peak-hour dash before dinner.
Of course there’s one more huge reason why I like to grow food; I like to cook. Bake. Preserve. Anything really that involves the meditation time of preparing something from scratch. Creating items such as jams, tomato sauces, pasta sauce, pestos and chutneys to enjoy with the family through the year, and creating extra to share with friends could be reason alone to get growing! Having access to fresh home-grown organic produce is something that anyone can have – and what mum wouldn’t want that! But growing your own food isn’t an all-or-nothing activity. You can choose to grow a few key items, or you can expand and create your own urban farm with chooks and bee hives. It’s really up to you.
Natasha’s Tips on Getting Started:
- Find out what grows well in your local area. Peek over the neighbours fence, ask a few local gardening friends, or check out a growing chart for your climate.
- Choose some of the ‘high frequency/small doses’ edibles. Herbs are a good example of this. They are plants that you need only a small amount of for a meal, but you might use them often. Other examples are celery, spring onions, rocket, spinach & lettuce.
- Grow what you eat! My kids won’t eat broad beans (unless they are really well hidden), so I’ve given up growing them even though they are really easy to grow in my area. It makes more sense to grow what you eat, not just what you can grow.
Don’t be daunted by growing your own food. Just get started, try one or two things, see how it goes, and expand from there. But be careful. It’s addictive.
Visit My Home Harvest to meet other local gardeners in your area, swap produce, great forums and recipes.