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Growing veggies in pots

It’s good for you, and it’s easy

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Have you ever thought that vegetables today don’t taste as good as they used to? In the past we mainly got our vegies from local suppliers, which meant maximum freshness, but today we rely on larger big-yield producers that focus on speed and cost, but not necessarily flavour. The good news is that when you grow veggies yourself, you get tastier meals. I can’t wait till the Yarra Rossa community garden can provide us with a mouth-watering array of delicious produce. In the meantime, my own veggie garden is doing a great job of keeping the family healthy and satisfied.

Not only do homegrown vegies taste better, they’re better for your health, too. Research shows that when you grow your own food, you’re getting more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. The longer it takes for food to be picked, processed, packaged, transported to the store then eventually taken home by you, the fewer nutritional goodies remain intact. That’s not an issue when food’s going direct from soil to your kitchen.

Here are some other great reasons to grow your own vegetables:

  • Saving money on your grocery bill
  • Avoiding chemicals and pesticides in your food
  • Reducing waste – growing vegies means no plastic packaging, and if you grow more than you need, you can either gift it to a neighbour, or compost it
  • Better health – gardening improves your heart health, body strength and immunity, and can lower stress levels.

Growing veggies in pots

A little-known secret about gardening is that many vegetables grow great in pots. Although you’ll be leaving your garden behind when you move to Yarra Rossa, you’ll have a sunny balcony that provides the perfect growing conditions. Choose a spot that gets around six or more hours of sunlight, and make sure you water and fertilise your plants regularly (unlike garden vegies, those growing in pots can soak up soil nutrients more quickly).

Here are my favourite vegetables to grow in pots:

Lettuce, silverbeet and spinach

It can be expensive to buy a whole lettuce or bag of spinach from the supermarket when you only need a handful of leaves, but having your own plant means you can pick off what you need. Go for loose-leaf varieties, and place in areas that get half-day sun.

Tomatoes

Cherry tomatoes in particular do really well in pots, and now is a great time of year to plant so you’ll have fresh tomatoes next autumn. Remember that tomatoes need the soil to be constantly moist.

Beans

Broad beans and green beans do great in pots. They love to climb, so place them near a balcony rail, or put in trellis or netting.

Herbs

Rosemary, mint, parsley, thyme and coriander are all relatively easy to grow. Keep in mind rosemary can sometimes take over herb pots, so is best in its own pot rather than a shared space.

Chilis

Having your own chili to add to casseroles and curries will really lift your cooking. They grow best with plenty of warmth and water.

Carrots

Because they’re root vegetables, carrots need a deep pot. It’s best to harvest them before they grow too large (so pick them as baby carrots).

Zucchini

These plants can get really large, so be careful where you place them. You’ll need a pot at least 40cm deep.

Cucumbers

Compact forms of cucumbers are great for pots. Add a few short stakes to support the vine.