There’s No Better Time to Grow Your Own Food

by Corinne Mossati

There’s no better time to grow your own food, and the good news is, it’s not too late to start.

Grow Your Own Food

Purple Tatsoi – Photo © The Gourmantic Garden

There’s no doubt we’re living in bleak times as the world is getting crippled by the COVID-19 virus. People are self-isolating or in quarantine, supermarket shelves are empty, the masses are stockpiling on non-perishable food items and fighting over toilet paper.

Over the weekend, I’ve seen gardeners post photos on social media of empty shelves from the garden section at various Bunnings stores. Many have cited that most of the edible seedlings were gone. It seems that the ‘grow your own food’ movement is gaining traction in the wake of panic buying.

However, there’s no better time to grow your own food, and the good news is, it’s not too late to start for this season.

If you’re self-isolating, practising social distancing or in quarantine, it means you’re not eating out at restaurants and bars and not having regular interactions. Like many people, if you’re finding these times difficult to deal with, edible gardening helps with anxiety and mental health. Not only does it put food on the table, but the cycle of planting a seed, watching it grow into food and consuming it is an uplifting experience. Whether you’re lucky to have the space to set up raised garden beds or have a small balcony, just pick a sunny spot and get started.

I’m ever so grateful for my humble edible garden. It may be tiny by comparison (I don’t even have a backyard!) and I have had many failures and challenges with the Sydney bushfires and drought. I was what you would call a “black thumb”. I killed anything green but I found that with a little knowledge, I could grow edibles such as seasonal vegetables, herbs, chillies, leafy greens and root veggies.

A Good Time to Grow Your Own Food

The time is now to start growing your own food. It’s the beginning of the cold growing season here in Australia. We’re only half way through March which is the start of autumn / fall, a time for winter veggies such as brassicas, peas, onions and leafy greens.

If you don’t have a garden, don’t let that put you off. You can grow food in containers on a small balcony that gets the sun. And if you’re in a rental property, the same thing applies and you can take them with you if you have to leave. In fact, most of my garden is in pots and can easily be moved around.

You also don’t need to be a gardening expert to grow your own food. Start with herbs, fast growing crops and you’ll be reaping the rewards in a month or two. Buy good quality potting mix, the one with the red Australian Standards tick, compost, some pots or a raised garden bed, seedlings or seed which you can buy cheaply online and get planting.

What to Grow in Autumn / Fall

If you are wondering what seeds to plant for autumn and winter, here is a list of edibles that are known to grow well in Sydney’s temperate climate. I don’t get frost where I am so you may need to check your local micro-climate.

  • Beetroot (Bulls Blood, Golden Detroit)
  • Bok Choy
  • Broad Beans
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrot (try Paris Market in containers)
  • Celtuce
  • Chives
  • Coriander
  • Cress
  • Dill
  • Garlic Chives
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Leek
  • Lettuce
  • Mustard Greens (Red Giant)
  • Onions Bunching (Shallots)
  • Parsley
  • Peas (Greenfeast)
  • Radish (French Breakfast)
  • Rocket
  • Silverbeet
  • Sorrel
  • Snow Pea
  • Tatsoi
  • Turnip
  • Water Cress

If you’re after veggies that grow fast, give radishes, bok choy, lettuce, rocket, kale and tatsoi a go. You could also grow microgreens or sprouts on a window sill. I have grown chia (black), kale (red Russian), amaranth (red leaf) and beetroot (bull’s blood) and they’re ready to harvest in just a few days.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some of the knowledge I’ve learnt in the past year, from sowing seed and growing guides to gardening on a budget.

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