picked oyster mushrooms
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There is so much reward in cooking and eating your own homegrown food.

It feels more important now than ever to grow your own food.

Food shortages and price hikes are just a couple of reasons.

The fact that your own homegrown produce is much more nutritious and taste better is another reason.

homegrown tomatoes
homegrown tomatoes taste better
So many beautiful and delicious varieties to try
Different colors and sizes of tomatoes makes your summer salad more interesting

Nothing can beat homegrown tomatoes.

Tomatoes are my favorite choice to grow at home. They are versatile, and there are so many delicious ways to eat them!

Tomato plants can grow tall. They need some help and support to stay strong. Make sure you

If your growing season isn’t that long, look at start growing them from seedlings to give them a head start. I recommend adding a cherry tomato variety as well. They grow faster and will produce fruit before your large tomatoes are ready.

1. Health Benefits of homegrown food.

You can easily choose to be spray free and organic which is much better and healthier compared to what we see in the shop. Many large growers that supply supermarkets use chemicals to keep weeds out and to increase the quantity of the produce. 

vegetable garden
Vegetable garden in spring
My seedlings grow under a frost cloth
Being a parent, it feels good to feed my family nutritious fresh homegrown food daily. 

I’m a strong believer that food can be medicine. Our immune system is the strongest defense against cold, flu and other nasty bugs 

roasted winter vegetables
Roasted winter vegetables
Cooked bok choi
Homegrown bok choi sauteed with oyster sauce and sesame

We do a big crop of garlic every year and eat a lot. Much more than we would if we bought garlic from the shop. Fresh homegrown garlic is so good for the immune system. Probably better than anything you can buy from the chemist. 

Read how to grow garlic at home successfully

roased garlic
Garlic growing outside in a garden bed with a wooden fence around it
garlic bed

Being outside in the Fresh air is another good immune builder and gardening definitely gets you outside.

2. What works for you and your current situation.

It is fairly time consuming to have a vegetable garden. However, it is very rewarding and satisfying to be out in the garden and to cook and eat homegrown food. Totally worth it!

Some vegetables are less time consuming than others so you can choose what suits your lifestyle best. It helps to have a lot of space however you can do a lot with a small space too.  

Seedlings grow in my grow tent on the deck in winter

Even if you only have space and time for a small garden every little bit helps and it’s a good start for perhaps something bigger later down the line.

Thyme plant by the front door
If you don’t have garden space then you can grow a lot in plant boxes, grow bags or pots in the window, outside the main door or on a deck or balcony.

Plants do really well against a sunny wall and its very convenient to have herbs and lettuces nearby when cooking.  

tomato plant
tomatoes growing against a sunny wall

Even if you have a big vegetable garden a few pots of herbs near the kitchen is still recommended as you are more likely to use them if you don’t have to put shoes on or go out in the rain to pick your herbs while cooking.  

fresh herbs
Fresh herbs growing in a planter pot

3. Make the most of your homegrown food.

If you do have the space then I recommend growing big crops of things that can be stored or preserved easily.

For example: homegrown potatoes, onions, carrots, garlic and pumpkin.

Once harvested those produce can be stored for a long time in the right environment so you can enjoy your homegrown goods for a long time afterwards.

young potato plants

These crops are also very low maintenance. Once planted you can just sit back and enjoy watching them grow. 

See my recipe gnocchi with roasted pumpkin, oyster mushrooms and bacon

Roasted vegetable gnocchi in a white bowl plate parmesan cheese shavings on top
Homemade gnocchi with pumpkin, oyster mushrooms and bacon

Read about how to grow stunning potatoes effortlessly at home here

4. Make a plan.

If you’re just starting out with homegrown gardens then its best to sit down and make a plan. Figure out what you want out of the garden. 

  •  What do you and your family use a lot of?
  • what’s the most efficient use of space?
  • How much does the plant produce for the space it needs?

Something to think about specially if you got limited space. 

For example:

A cabbage or broccoli plant only produce that one head. Once harvested that’s it. It won’t grow back. With a similar amount of space one zucchini plant, bean plant or cucumber plant grows a lot of fruit. The more you pick the more it will grow so you get more bang for your buck with those. 

zucchini plant
A zucchini plant produces a lot in a small space

See my recipe for lamb and zucchini bake

With lettuces there are so many different varieties. Varieties you harvest the entire plant once or cut leaves from it and it won’t grow back again while other varieties are so called cut and grow again.  This is an obvious choice for me. It doesn’t require more space or more work to plant and maintain the different crops.

My goal is to always have some homegrown veges available to eat.

In the colder month it will be a smaller selection but there are some greens that can be grown even in winter.

Even if kale, silver beet, Chinese cabbage and spinach are all the greens I have growing in winter that is still pretty good and I’m happy with that. It’s a lot better than nothing at all.

My winter greens are doing fine under the frost cloth

When you draw your plan up think about when things will be ready for harvest and when you need to put new seeds in to have the next crop available. When you need to plant your autumn crop and winter crop, what crop can be ready first in spring and how soon can I plant those seeds etc.

Try to save some of your own homegrown seeds and replant them

dill seed crown

Dill seeds

pumpkin seeds
pumpkin seeds
rocket seeds
Rocket seeds
4. Stagger the planting and create a longer growing season.

You don’t want to plant everything at once in the spring and leave it at that. Then everything is ready about the same time in summer. Once that is harvested there is nothing left in the garden.

The ultimate goal is to spread things out so there is always some homegrown food available to harvest. 

If you don’t have a greenhouse then I recommend a frost cloth to cover seedlings up early spring and autumn.

They are very effective and also protect against birds and other small animals trying to steal your seedlings

Winter garden bed covered up with frost cloth and snow on top

Vegetable garden covered up with frost cloth

Green vegetables growing under a gardden frost cover

Veges growing under the frost cloth all winter

5. Get the kids involved.

If you have young kids then I recommend a kids gardening tool kit. Once my kids got their own gardening tools they love helping in the garden. It’s a lot easier to get jobs done if they can help out rather than me having to entertain them elsewhere

Most kids like helping in garden. They love playing and digging in the dirt and mud. When given easy tasks to do themselves they can be pretty helpful. I like giving my boys their own small space in the garden to plant, water and look after.

two kids planting seeds in a tyre garden bed
Two kids are digging in the tractor tyre garden bed

They have a reward chart with different task to do each day and get a sticker for each complete task. Watering and looking after their garden is on the reward chart.

It’s enough to encourage them and keep them interested. They like checking on the progress of their plants and I believe they learn useful life skills too. I Love when they spend time and enjoy these kind of activities.

I download my reward chart from the organized family site here where you can also find other great advice on rewarding kids the right way as well as other handy charts to use.

Oyster mushroom growing

I grow oyster mushrooms from scratch indoors on wheat straw. This is a pretty time-consuming process and totally separate in all aspect from the rest of the vegetable garden.

Only do it this way if you are committed and have a lot of spare time.

oyster mushrooms

A much easier way to add mushrooms to your growing selection is to buy ready grow kits where most of the work has been done already.

They are sold in garden centers and similar places. All you need is a small space that has the right environment (temperature, airflow and humidity). The great thing with indoor mushrooms is that they grow all year round if the environment is right.  

A ready grow kit will produce a good number of mushrooms and is a good way to explore if you have a suitable space and environment for them 

See my Pasta Boscaiola with oyster mushrooms recipe

Pasta Boscaiola
Pasta Boscaiola with oyster mushrooms

Oyster mushrooms are also very nutritious and a great immune booster 

Homegrown mushroom cooked with garlic consumed regularly might help keep the doctor away. 

venison with mushroom sauce
Venison with oyster mushroom sauce
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