I’ve always disliked gardening. I think it’s because I’d kill most things I planted. DSCN3986 But when my son came along, I decided to give veggie gardening another go as I felt it was important that he grew up knowing where food comes from. The greenie in me also said I needed to do it, complementing my other sustainable living practices.

Tucking into fresh tomatoes right there in the garden.

After some failed crops, parrots, rabbits, not enough water and a few small triumphs managing to produce some food worthy of the family meal, we turned a corner.

Third time lucky! We finally got corn to grow!

When my husband asked if the cost of building a fully netted enclosure was worth it for the value of food we produced, my swift response of “it’s worth it for my mental health” made me stop and think that maybe the veggie garden was about more than I’d given it credit for.

My beetroot growing beautifully!

I still don’t like gardening, but I love veggie gardening. I get immense joy just wandering through my patch, watching things grow and change. It calms me down when I feel hurried. Facebook has been subject to many proud photos of meals featuring our home grown food. I love that my son understands that flowers are pollinated by bees then produce fruit, and that earthworms turn scraps into soil. He and I dig, plant, harvest, turn-in compost – we bond and spend quality time together. The look of surprise on his face is priceless as he pulls out a carrot and sees what shape it is (they’re rarely straight). I love wandering through the garden with friends, comparing what we have in season and munching peas straight off the plant. Finally, I can share produce with others – trading beetroot for apricots, or capsicum for eggs. There’s a sense of community around being a veggie gardener.
One mornings harvest from my garden. The capsicums went brilliantly in a stir-fry that night! Yum!

One morning’s harvest from my garden. The capsicums went brilliantly in a stir-fry that night! Yum!

My household rubbish output has shrunk, as kitchen scraps now go in the worm farm or compost heap. We now grow enough to have surplus of the in-season vegetable, and I’ve found a new fun hobby – cooking. I’ve never tried so many recipes in my life! The grocery bill has shrunk considerably – we roughly calculated that a $3000 saving last year (mainly on tomatoes) thanks to the veggie patch. Environmentally, I know that my food hasn’t any food miles on it, hasn’t touched plastic packaging, there’s no nasty chemicals and it’s fresh as can be. After a stint away from home, I said to my son we had better stop by the shop as there was ‘no food in the house’. He replied, “but that’s OK, there’s plenty in the vege garden.” And he was right – my family isn’t quite as dependent on the supply chain as many others are. Not everyone has the space for a large veggie patch, but even in a pot on a balcony, everyone can experience the joy of producing something worthwhile, helping their health, their wallet and the environment all at the same time. Give it a go! Do you have a great recipe for using up a surplus of a certain type of vegetable? Are you willing to share? Let us know!