By Rebecca Searles, Founder of Family Garden Life
As a gardening mama — who traded corporate life for a garden startup — I’m passionate about growing organic food at home.
In supermarkets, organic food is expensive and not always easy to find. Plus, it’s super awesome when your kids can tell you what’s happening in your garden. Only the other day my daughter was pointing out insect larvae and telling me who she thought it belonged to. And she was right! Cue, proud mama moment!
So, what is an organic garden?
It’s a food garden that works with nature so your plants and produce are packed full of nutritional value, chemical and pesticide free… and delicious.
To work with nature, you need to feed your plants through the soil, learn how your plants grow and be able to identify good bugs from bad bugs. Did you know you can fight a good bug against a bad bug (my daughter does now!)?
Here’s the lowdown on how to create your own organic food garden in 5 simple steps:
1. Grow what your family eats
One of the biggest blowouts in a food garden is oversupply of food that you don’t even eat. Like 20 eggplants when you’ve never eaten or cooked one in your entire life. I’m all for kids growing food, but make sure you start with what you know they will eat. Try tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, and beans. Let the eggplant sit on the bench for the first round.
2. Harvest what you need
A massive benefit to growing organic food at home is that you pick what you need. You’ll be minimising wastage and garden food tastes world’s better than store bought that is often frozen. This is especially relevant to herbs that are seriously over priced in the shops! Plus they come wrapped in plastic — shudder.
It’s a great lesson for kids to see how simple it is to pick parsley and tomatoes without a visit to the store, and taste how different things are when they eat the organic veggies they’ve grown themselves at home.
3. Meal plan based on your harvest
Meal planning sounds boring as bats, I get it. All I’m suggesting is to put some thought into ways you are going to use all of your harvest. Garden to plate is a great way for kids to try new vegetables. If they grow it and cook it, they will definitely be more inclined to gobble it down.
4. Grow continual harvest crops and stagger planting
A way to ensuring your crops continue over a season is to choose crops which you can continually harvest like tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, snowpeas, lettuce. It’s the best way to keep that harvest basket overflowing with goodness.
You can also use staggered planting to replace a plant that is on its way out the door. This means starting a new plant before the old one is finished producing — plant a tomato in September, plant another one in Nov before the first one dies out.
There are lots of little tricks you’ll learn along the way as an organic gardener — don’t be afraid to look it up online. Organic gardening is for life — you might find yourself watching videos about zucchini plants on sleepless nights!
5. Preserving food — turn your kitchen into a garden
It’s also a good idea to think about more ways to lengthen your supply like drying, freezing, and preserving your food. Embrace the concept of a garden kitchen and you’ll have frozen pesto ice cubes, dried herbs all winter and an endless supply of preserved veggies on hand.
Once you start growing organic food at home you’ll be sure to catch the gardening ‘bug’. It’s an awesome concept to supply, or work towards supplying, your family with homegrown organic food. I hear it all the time, and it makes my heart smile.
An organic family food garden develops life skills for kids which are equal to those of reading and writing. Not to forget that worms, seeds, watering, and harvesting is super fun for kids of all ages.