I recently started volunteering with a Kitchen Garden Program in Adelaide aimed at introducing little kids to gardening and the benefits of homegrown produce. Many children who visit the garden have never seen a potato plant or had the chance to harvest a vegetable straight from the ground so the program is a great learning experience. Being involved in this has also made me reflect on my own kitchen garden experiences growing up.
Growing up, mum always kept a big veggie garden and an orchard packed full of so many different fruit trees. I have many fond memories of helping mum plant seeds in straight rows in our veggie patch and picking buckets full of ripe berries and juicy peaches. Up until a few years ago I took it for granted that everyone knew things like when zucchinis are in season, the existence of stripey tomatoes or how kiwi fruit grew, but I have come to realise how privileged I have been. To be able to sit down to a dinner made up completely of home grown veggies, herbs and preserves or to be able to go and feast on fruit straight from the tree, is a truly awesome thing.
There are so many benefits to growing your own food -here’s why
- It can help you to get healthier. Gardening can be great physical activity, especially if you are doing strenuous things like digging or carting a wheelbarrow. For older Australians gardening can be a gentle way to help stay active or a great diversion to reduce children’s screen time. Plus, it means you get heaps of super-fresh fruit and vegetables practically for free – all you need is a pack of seeds, somewhere to plant and a little love and water. No excuses here for not getting your 2 and 5.
- You can save money.Cut down your grocery bill by growing a little bit, some or all of your fresh produce.
- You eat seasonally. You begin to learn what you can and can’t plant depending on the season and appreciate fruit and veggies when they are at their peak taste and nutrition.
- You get to enjoy some really funky (and way tastier) veg. The varieties of fruit and veg that you see in supermarkets haven’t been grown for taste, they have been selected for their long shelf lives and durability. Want to grow purple carrots, pink egg plant, orange beetroot or just really amazing-tasting tomatoes? Have the freedom to grow what you want. Seed savers such as The Diggers Club sell heirloom fruit and vegetable seeds that you will never ever see in supermarkets.
- Your children might show some kind of interest in their vegetables. By involving your children with the growing, picking or cooking of the food, they are more likely to want to taste and eat that strange vegetable on their plate.
- Never run out of herbs again. Everyone should give growing herbs a try, they can add so much flavour to meals but cost a fortune to buy from the shops.
I realise this is lot easier living on a property with plenty of free space but there is always the opportunity to grow something no matter where you live. For those with only small backyards you can actually grow quite a lot of veg in just one square metre (look up one magic square for more!) and run things like passionfruit or grapevines up fences. Even if you only have an apartment, veggie plants can successfully be grown in pots on balconies or windowsills as long as they get some sunlight. If nothing else, contact your local council for your nearest community garden.
Here’s whats exciting in our garden at the moment
Inspired? Spring is the perfect time to plant in time for summer.
Here’s what I have been making with those broad beans and asparagus
- For the Pancake
- ½ small zucchini, grated
- ¼ cup buckwheat flour
- ¼ tsp baking powder
- 1 tbsp finely chopped walnuts
- 1 egg white
- 1 tsp low salt garlic herb seasoning (I used Mingle Seasoning)
- ¼ cup milk of choice, I used soy
- Oil, to cook
- For the Veg
- 6-8 broad beans, podded (about ¼ cup)
- 3 asparagus spears
- 1 tomato, halved
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Few basil leaves, torn
- 1 tbsp homemade pesto
- For the pancake, combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix until combined.
- Heat a small amount of oil/use oil spray in a non-stick frypan over medium heat and use your zucchini mix to make two pancakes. Cook until almost set then flip over to cook the other side.
- Meanwhile, add the olive oil to a fry pan over med-high heat, give your veg a quick wish the chuck in the fry pan with the residual water. Place the tomato cut side down. Cook, shaking the pan occasionally until the veg are just tender and bright green. Add the basil and a little salt/pepper and give a quick mix.
- Serve your pancakes with a spoonful of pesto, and the beans, asparagus and tomato.