Favourite Grow-It-Yourself Food To Save Money and Food Waste

 Backyard abundance

Backyard abundance

You've just found a delicious new recipe to make for dinner. It's fresh, healthy and probably delicious. You head to the supermarket for ingredients and leave with armfuls of plastic packaged herbs, greens and random spices. When you get home, you're thinking "far out, this is a lot of herbs for one meal. And all that plastic.." right before you look at the receipt and realise "shit, herbs are expensive!". After dinner, you put the leftover veg in the fridge, knowing very well that they are doomed to wilt and probably decay on the back of the shelf. Then you feel terribly guilty for the waste, but a few weeks later it happens again. Ahh!

Many of us don't have the luxury of space to grow lots of produce at home. It can be really hard to eat lots of fresh food without spending lots of money and without wasting bits and pieces. Supermarkets are great at ripping us off too, charging $4 for a bunch of mint that's grown on the sniff of an oily rag. The good news is, many of these delicious things you can grow yourself in most climates/seasons - even in small yards. Here is my own list of the most economical plants to grow if you're limited on money, space and time:

Mint (mentha sp. piperita)
- Climate: Cool, Temperate, Subtropical
- Grow me in: Spring, Summer, Autumn; pots (I tend to spread); part shade; most soils
- Water me: Moderately
- Feed me: Compost in spring
- Harvest me: As needed

Perennial Basil (ocimum tenuifolium)
- Climate: Cool, Temperate, Subtropical
- Grow me in: Spring, Summer, Autumn; garden bed; full sun; free-draining soils
- Water me: Rarely (once established)
- Feed me: Compost in spring
- Harvest me: As needed

 Pallets can create beds in very small spaces

Pallets can create beds in very small spaces

Sweet basil (ocimum basilicum)
- Climate: Temperate, subtropical, tropical
- Grow me in: Summer; pots or garden bed; full sun; most soils
- Water me: Moderately
- Feed me: Seaweed solution, worm wee when growing rapidly
- Harvest me: As needed from the tips

Silverbeet or Tuscan Kale (beta vulgaris; brassical oleracea 'lacinato')
- Climate: Cool, temperate, subtropical
- Grow me in: Spring, summer, autumn; garden bed; full sun to part shade; most soils
- Water me: Moderately
- Feed me: Seaweed solution, worm wee when growing rapidly; nitrogenous fertiliser; compost in spring
- Harvest me: As needed - cut off my outer leaves and Ill continue to grow from the centre

Thyme (thymus spp.)
- Climate: Cool, temperate, subtropical
- Grow me in: Spring, Summer, Autumn; pots or garden bed; full sun to part shade; most soils
- Water me: Light-moderately
- Feed me: Compost in spring
- Harvest me: As needed

Chilli (capsicum spp.)
- Climate: Temperate, subtropical, tropical
- Grow me in: Summer, Autumn; pots or garden bed; full sun; sandy or loam soils
- Water me: Light-moderately
- Feed me: Compost when flowering; 
- Harvest me: As needed when ripe

 Crates can be really productive in small yards

Crates can be really productive in small yards

Coriander (coriandrum sativum)
- Climate: Cool, temperate, subtropical
- Grow me in: Spring, Summer; pots or garden bed; full sun; most soils
- Water me: Moderately
- Feed me: 
- Harvest me: As needed - cut off my outer leaves and Ill continue to grow from the centre

Garlic Chives (allium tuberosum)
- Climate: Cool, temperate, subtropical
- Grow me in: Spring, Summer, Autumn; pots or garden bed; full sun to part shade; most soils
- Water me: Moderately
- Feed me: 
- Harvest me: As needed with scissors, down to ground level in winter

Rosemary (rosemarinus officinalis)
- Climate: Cool, temperate, subtropical
- Grow me in: Summer; pots or garden bed; full sun; most soils
- Water me: Rarely (once established)
- Feed me: Compost in spring
- Harvest me: As needed, but leave my flowers for the bees!

Lettuce (cut and come again varieties e.g. cos, mustards, oakleaf)
- Climate: All
- Grow me in: Spring, Summer, Autumn; pots or garden bed; full sun to part shade; rich well draining soil
- Water me: Regularly
- Feed me: Seaweed solution, worm wee when growing rapidly; nitrogenous fertiliser; compost in spring
- Harvest me: As needed - cut off my outer leaves and Ill continue to grow from the centre

For more information on growing edible plants and more, head over to Sustainable Gardening Australia for great organic advice. Feel free to share your stories or comments on SEED Facebook page, Instragram @seedblog, or in the comments below. Happy growing!

 Backyard grown Romanesco broccoli

Backyard grown Romanesco broccoli