Your own garden grocery store

A home veggie garden is a great way to keep the kids busy and teach them about where there food comes from.

As the price of fruit and vegetables continues to fluctuate, horticulturalist Craig Castree shares his top tips for growing an edible garden in urban spaces, including in Sunbury and the Macedon Ranges.

Mr Castree says his main goal is to teach people how to become self sufficient by encouraging them to grow their own food.

“It’s very simple, pull out a weed and put in a food plant, it only takes five minutes,” he said.

“People think they need to know much more than they currently do to be able to grow food and that’s not the case.

“I try to take the jargon out of gardening, to show them how simple it is. They’ll be gobsmacked in six weeks at how much food they’re producing, how many less weeds they’ve got in their garden, and how nutritious and flavourful the food is that they produce.”

According to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, food prices rose between nine and 10 per cent over the last 12 months, mostly driven by hikes in the price of fruit and vegetables.

Mr Castree says one of his top tips is to companion plant, which involves growing fruit and vegetables that go well on a plate together, in the same area of ground.

“People get all enthusiastic and they put everything in at once and then all of a sudden six weeks later, they’ve got way too much lettuce,“ he said.

“Don’t become a farmer, because that’s a lot of hard work. Just plant one thing every day of your life, it takes far less time than you think.”

Early summer is the perfect time to plant beans, beetroot, broccoli, capsicum, carrot, cucumber, lettuce, onion, peas, sweet corn, silverbeet, strawberries and many more.

A home veggie garden wouldn’t be complete without fresh herbs, which the Heart Foundation says are a healthy and flavourful alternative to adding salt to meals and reducing your salt intake.

Herbs that will thrive in summer include basil, chives, coriander, fennel, mint, parsley and tarragon.

It can be a challenge to fit enough vegetables in the garden but with an array of above ground garden beds available on the market, separate pots can also be used when saving space is essential.

Now that you’ve got your garden planted and worked out what type you’ll be going ahead with it’s time to get cooking.

Using your freshly grown produce and a few pantry staples you can create a beautiful tomato salad to accompany some fresh seafood or meat during the warmer months.

Fresh tomato summer salad ingredients:

1 cup red cherry tomatoes, halved

1 cup colored grape tomatoes, halved

1 cucumber, sliced into half moons

1 handful chopped fresh basil

1 handful chopped fresh parsley

1/2 red onion, sliced thinly

sea salt, to taste

ground black pepper, to taste

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

⅓ cup feta cheese, crumbled

Honey to taste

1. Place chopped tomatoes in a bowl and crack salt and pepper over the top to taste.

2. Add onion to bowl.

3. In a lidded jar add olive oil, balsamic vinegar and honey, shake to combine.

4. Drizzle over salad and top with basil and parsley,

5. Crumble feta on top and stir to combine.

6. Enjoy!