Growing your own fruit and vegetables

Ever heard the phrase “we are only four days from anarchy”?

It’s an extreme way to say that most grocery stores would be empty in four days if traditional supply chains were shut down.

Before you start scrambling to create your own doomsday bunker, consider growing your own fruit and vegetables. Being self-sufficient doesn’t require an acreage of crops, just a little creativity if you’re limited by space.

Starting with self-sufficiency

You may be tempted to go wild planting whatever you’d like to see on your dinner plate, but first consider how the produce you plant affects your local environment. A big trend is permaculture gardening; the concept of growing plants perfect for the climate and the surrounding environment. When designed well, permaculture gardens create small ecosystems that constantly revitalise the earth, so soil is rich in nutrients and plants are healthier.

If you’re interested in growing your own produce but are renting, living in an apartment or just lacking backyard space, there are a few ways you can sow your seeds.

Vertical gardens are exactly as they sound. Gardens that run up a wall. Constructing your own or using premade containers adds an aesthetic edge while being cost and space efficient. Many vertical gardens are even self-watering or made using pockets of felt or canvas which are lined for moisture retention. Think: a wall of herbs right by the kitchen.

If you’re in a rental, potted plants are a particularly easy way to flex your green thumb without literally putting down roots. Smaller ones can line your windowsill and bigger ones add panache to your garden. Using terracotta pots or apple crates are an effective way to have your garden and keep your landlord happy too.

Want something bigger? You can buy or make a raised garden bed from timber, metal or plastic. Elevated beds have greater access to sunlight, are more ergonomic to garden from and have excellent drainage.

The pros of it

Still not convinced? There are more reasons, aside from sheer convenience, when it comes to planting your own fruit and veg.

Growing your own produce is more cost-effective, saving you time and money at the grocery store. Fruit and veg grown in your own garden often have more nutrients than those that have travelled thousands of kilometres to the grocery store. Aesthetically speaking, they’re a great way to decorate your home with indoor or outdoor vertical gardens adding a fresh look to any old wall.

Neighbourhood gardens help beautify the area and create a secure food community that residents can access, without relying on external vendors.

How to grow your own produce at home

First off, it’s good to establish what type of plants can grow in your current climate. Tomatoes love summer weather. Lettuce blooms in spring. Autumn is the perfect time to plant broccoli, and carrots are a great year-rounder.

You’ll also need to consider space. How much do you have currently and how much will you need for certain plants? Do you get adequate light in the areas you can plant produce?

Most crops need up to eight hours of sunlight a day to grow but keep in mind a few foods such as lettuce like shade. Then think about what you’d actually like to plant. No point sowing the seeds for corn if no one in your family is going to eat it.

You can start small by growing herbs or berries in containers. If you’ve got a garden, send your kitchen scraps back to the earth with a worm farm.

Aside from being a sustainable way to dispose of organic waste, it’s also an easy way to create your own nutrient-rich soil. If you’d like something bigger like potted plants or a raised bed, consider how easy it will be for you to pack up if you need to move.

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