01.Homegrown vegiesChoosing the right vegetables to grow at home can help offset the cost of food.
You can grow a year's supply of vegetables in a space as small as a domestic front lawn.
Composting is great way to dispose of food scraps as well as creating a free fertiliser at the same time.
We take a look at organic pest control.
Community gardens are a good alternative if you have no space.
Starting an edible garden only requires good guides, time and common sense. And if you choose your plants wisely, growing your own can help offset the cost of fruit and vegetables.
CHOICE member Matt De Britt has a a mini-farm on his NSW Central Coast property. He estimates it has since saved him and his wife $1800 a year in fresh vegetables and eggs.
While not everyone has the kind of backyard space for a self-sustaining veggie patch and chickens you may be surprised at what you can do with the space you do have. In a space no bigger than a domestic front yard, or 40m2, you can grow a year's supply of vegetables, says Clive Blazey from the Digger's gardening club.
Choosing the right plants will help you save. Here are some of our picks:
- Herbs - herbs last longer on the plant so having them on hand is a great way to save on buying a fresh bunch every time you need just a little bit.
- Lettuce - buying lettuce can be expensive and it doesn't take long for it to go bad. Cut-and-come again varieties will save you from wasting food, as well as make your salads more nutritious and delicious.
- Cherry heirloom tomatoes - a packet of cherry tomatoes can be as much as $7 at the supermarket so growing your own is a good option. Cherry tomatoes grow quicker than the larger varieties so there is less time for them to be eaten by bugs. Heirloom varieties will also have longer yields.
When choosing what to plant, have a plan and research which plants will work for you and your area. Look for fruit and vegies that:
- have good yields;
- aren't too resource intensive to grow;
- are less susceptible to pests;
- have longer yields, such as heirlooms;
- you like to eat;
- are easily stored or preserved and;
- are expensive to buy.
Also look into seasonal planting. A gardening calendar will help you work out which vegetables and fruits grow when. It will tell you which month to plant in and when to harvest, wherever you live in Australia. Planning your plantings ensures a continuous supply of vegetables.
One option for city gardeners who have small gardens is the no-dig garden.
The above-ground garden is created by laying newspapers, hay, fertiliser and compost until you achieve a raised garden bed. The organic matter rots down into a nutrient-rich soil. The idea is to create good soil content on any surface; you can even create a no-dig garden using just a planter box on your apartment balcony.
Vertical and hanging gardens are another good option for apartment dwellers.