If you are like me and have started a small veggie garden at home, it’s quite a bit of work initially and planning to get enough produce to feed one adult- never mind the whole family can seem daunting indeed. The trick- I believe, (as I keep telling myself), is to focus on the longer term, and plan for a more sustainable household in its entirety. Such as, collecting any rainfall from your roof and storing in tanks, recycling our refuse, especially our kitchen waste and turning it into compost which we can add to our poor sandy soils here on Bribie Island, with the aim to build up the organic component and boost the soil fertility needed for successful fruit and vegetable growing. The benefits are tenfold, rather than just focusing on growing vegetables alone. And I mentioned last article, the fantastic benefits of using a food dehydrator to preserve excess fruits and vegetables, and it’s interesting to watch them change into a smaller compact but tastier version of itself, as it dries and retains the same nutrients once available in the original fruit- such as the common sultana, but we can also use bananas, mangoes, strawberries, pineapple and apricots which are a favourite for most, and are easily dried for storing (if you have good self-control that is- not like someone I know).Hmm.
The beauty of having our seasonal fruit and veggies in such an abundant supply, is that when they become abundantly available, they are relatively cheap to purchase, so it’s a great time to buy them in bulk for preserving, but the unfortunate thing of course, is after you have spent all season nurturing your home- grown produce and compare and take into account- your true cost of seed, seedlings, compost- if you do not make it, irrigation and fertilisers, you may be a little miffed to see that the humble tomato is available for a song at the grocer at the time of your harvest. But alas, the benefits of growing home-grown produce is that the whole family can participate in growing it- if they wish, from seed to harvest to plate, and the reward and satisfaction- is hard to beat. When you add the fact of our location into the equation- being a coastal community, especially for those who eat seafood; the benefits of fishing and growing your own produce is a pretty good situation to be in. The other important thing to remember is that crop rotation is required to maintain the health of plants and soils for example: growing tomato plants in the same position year-round can attract Root- knot nematodes (eel worms) that can cause stunting of new plants and seedlings which become less productive because their roots have been invaded, this is particular important if you plan saving seeds as you should save seeds from your finest and healthiest crop, this is why it’s best to rotate your tomato plants or (Solanaceae family crops), with brassicas: broccoli and cauliflower or allium family: leeks, garlic or onions, which will starve the nematodes from their favourite food source and assist to eradicate pathogens. So- plant hygiene is a must. If you have no space to grow any produce or the time and the ability, then there is another option of course is sprouting seeds in a jar. Seeds like mung beans that have germinated enmasse contain as much nutrients in that- one little sprout, as the whole mature plant at harvest- now that’s a healthy option. Stay healthy all!