Make your Space an Edible Place!
Grow Your Own
As a child I always remember going to my grandparents and picking fruit off the fruit trees and veges out of the garden. Nowadays hardly any properties have their own gardens or fruit trees.
My husband and I got married and brought our first home in 1996. The first thing we did was pull out all of the gardens because we didn’t want the extra work. We put it all into grass and liked the fact that we just had to mow the lawn and the place looked lovely and tidy. We were in the habit of buying all of our fruit and veges from the supermarket. In 2005 Daniel was born. We had a lovely house and nice big back lawn.
One day I went into the supermarket to buy our fruit and vegetables for the week. I went to get some tomatoes and I think they were the most expensive I had ever seen them. They were $12.99 a kilo. All of a sudden I realized that we had become totally dependent on other places to supply us our food and we were paying a high price for that convenience.
I went home and Vaughn and I started talking about the cost of living and how it was getting really expensive for things that we saw as the basics. We had become totally unaware of seasonal fruits and vegetables because the supermarket has most fruits and vegetables all year round.
We were sitting in our lounge looking out at our lovely mown lawn and all of a sudden we thought how crazy it was that here we had our own little corner of the world and sure it looked lovely and tidy but we were missing a great opportunity to become more self sufficient and less reliant on others to supply us fresh fruit and vegetables.
Our new Back Yard
It was all good timing and everything seemed to fall in to place, you see, recently my father had put in some raised bed gardens at his place and it was close to my birthday so I asked my Dad if I brought the wood, could he make me a garden for my birthday.
He agreed and before you knew it, we had a lovely raised garden in our back yard. We brought a yates book and got planting. Over the next year we learnt a lot about what vegetables to grow when and how to plant and rotate crops and lots of general gardening tips. We had the expert advice from Vaughn’s 93-year-old nana ‘Dot’ who would tell us how to get the most out of everything.
The following year we asked Dad to build me another garden for that birthday. Now it was getting serious. We had thoroughly enjoyed eating our home grown vegetables so we wanted to be able to grow more than we could eat in the summer so we could pre-plan and freeze our own vege’s for the winter as well.
In our backyard we also had a lovely old grafted apple tree. Every year we enjoyed the apples and when Daniel was 2 years old he would go out and pick his own apple and bring it back for us to cut up. We got to thinking that wouldn’t it be cool if we always had some seasonal fruit available on our property for anyone from the family to eat.
This started our next project, a home orchard. We decided that we wanted to make sure we could access seasonal fruits at anytime. It is interesting when you research seasonal fruits and what vitamins they have in them. For example, we found out that most of the winter fruits are naturally high in Vitamin C, like Kiwifruit, Fejoas and Oranges – just when you need a vitamin C boost; the fruits that will give it to you are available.
So what we have done over the past 9 years is plant fruit trees so that we have fruit nearly all year round that we can pick from our own property. Some years we have abundance so we swap it with other friends who have other fruits they grow.
Everything we do in our own corner of the world complements each other. Our worm farms and compost bin feed the soil for the garden, the scraps from the garden and our food scraps get composted and go back into the soil to grow more food.
We are so proud of what we have achieved and it has all come together so well. Sure it has taken time but because it has been a long-term project we have incorporated the whole system in to our way of life. Looking at the big picture, growing your own food is such an easy thing to do when you know what you are doing.
So what if you are renting?
A challenge that many will face is when you are renting a property and you cant do any permanent planting or change anything. However there are lots of ways you can still have a garden, without an in the ground garden.
Firstly there is the option of growing in planter boxes that if you have to move you can take with you. These are great for growing lettuces, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Spinach, Kale, Silverbeet, Tomato’s, dwarf beans, herbs and more. Depending on the depth you may be able to grow root crops such as Carrots in there as well. I would tend to grow the more dwarf ones in a planter box.
Or secondly, I have seen people grow them directly in pots or by cutting holes in a pre packaged bag of soil mix. Especially things like lettuces.
With fruit trees it is a bit trickier but you could potentially look at swapping something you have an abundance of with some one else.
There are ways around everything, even if it means you just do a little bit here and there when it suits. But I can speak from experience when I say that it always tastes better if you picked it out of your own garden.
The Final Word
Funnily enough, recently Daniel and I were sitting watching Charlie and the chocolate factory and I made comment that wouldn’t it be cool if you had a garden like that so that everything in your garden was edible.
Daniel’s response was classic, he said ‘But we do mum, we can eat everything in our garden, the only thing we need to do now is find out how we can grow chocolate!’
What can you do…..turn over a bit of soil, plant something in there and watch it grow.