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How to start growing your own produce

Growing your own produce is a great way of helping to create a local and sustainable community. Produce gardens provide you with the very freshest, seasonally appropriate and naturally-ripened food without any of the environmental consequences of supermarket food miles, packaging and transporting.

Home grown produce also uses less water, energy and chemicals.

Planning your produce garden

Do a site analysis

Identify your garden's sunny and shady spots – these can differ in summer and winter. Produce performs best in full-sun areas, so take note of deciduous trees in your and neighbouring gardens. Sheltered areas and wind tunnels are also worth noting, along with patches of good draining or water logged areas. All these elements will help you to decide what to plant where in your garden. Ideally your soil should also be in a pH range of 6.0–7.5, where most plant nutrients are readily available.

Think about the physical location and ease of access to the produce garden

Should it:

  • be close to the house for gathering vegetables, fruit and herbs when desired?
  • include raised garden beds so people can reach the patch easily and without bending too far?
  • have nearby storage areas for tools and equipment?
  • be close to the compost heap or worm farm for managing and accessing the compost?
  • include tanks for storing rainwater?
  • include a propagation area?

Be realistic about the limitations of your garden size

Consider:

  • Mixing in produce plants with ornamental plantings.
  • Using containers, pots and hanging baskets.
  • Incorporating vertical planting, such as climbers and vines.
  • Using food producing hedges or trees along walls or fences.
  • Adding a small chicken coop and run, as chooks love to eat kitchen green waste and will produce great fertiliser for your garden, and of course delicious fresh eggs.

Decide if you want a particular ‘style’ of produce garden

For example:

  • Formal kitchen.
  • Practical vegie patch.
  • Multi-level food forest.
  • Container gardens.
  • Your own unique style.