Vegies for a year….

The idea growing all of your own fruit and vegies is a very appealing one. Never having to go to the grocery store and instead simply walking out the back door to fill a basket from the garden. Many glossy articles and TV programs promise to have the key to your years worth of growing. How many of us have run out for a well intentioned weekend of digging an planting only to end up with a glut of produce and then nothing or, worse still, have your hard work go to waste through low yields, pests or diseases.

The reality of growing your own food is often far from the dream. To successfully feed your family with sufficient fresh produce throughout the year is a challenge even for those living on large rural properties. It takes planning, persistence and a good deal of love and tending. Having said that, I am often amazed at the abundance that can be achieved on small suburban blocks.

When food miles, scraps recycling and water harvesting are included, suburban backyard food production can even be a more efficient method of food production than the heavier yields achieved by large scale agricultural farming.

While you are unlikely to supply all of your own needs, it is certainly realistic to expect a daily harvest from your garden and produce year round. A quarter of our acreage is dedicated to food production with the remaining land for Land for Wildlife and our house. Our 1/2 acre food forest supplies our basic vegetable needs (predominately leafy greens) along with sweet potatoes, cassava, pumpkins, arrowroot and a range of seasonal fruits. We also have bees for honey and chickens for eggs (and company!). We supplement our food from the grocer for produce that is far easier to buy organic than to grow yourself such as carrots, broccolini, cauliflower, apples. While we are able to grow these here in Brisbane, the effort required for a sufficient return does not justify it.

What I find truly baffling is that in the majority of articles on planning backyard food production there is rarely any mention of perennial plants. Lettuce, kale, silverbeet, all get a mention yet superior foods plants such as Sambung, Okinawa Spinach and Sweet potato leaf rarely get a look in. Our garden relies heavily on these perennial crops that tick along happily in the garden, with very little care besides a trim or a water on very hot days.

With that intense weekend of hard work, much can be achieved towards a years worth of leafy salad greens (if not more) if the focus is shifted from annuals and succession planting and instead on perennial vegetables which are hardier, more resilient, lower maintenance, generally more nutritious and in my opinion far tastier. A lot will be said in the coming posts about the best backyard perennial vegies for Western Brisbane but if you’d like an introduction try the Brisbane Edible Gardening Booklet which details the best of the best of these plants and how to get them. Contact us for a copy.

One response to “Vegies for a year….”

  1. Hi there. Is it possible to get a copy of this booklet please. I’m trying something very similar in Lismore and always love to hear what other like-minded gardeners are up to. Cheers, Jo


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