Ten herbs, fruit and veg anyone can grow

Food5 min read

10 herbs, fruit and vegetables that anyone can grow

Transform your outdoor area with some gardening inspiration

Looking for a simple way to save money and spice up the meals you cook every day?

In Mediterranean countries, most families have at least some crops in their garden. It encourages them to keep active and healthy and means there are always fresh, delicious ingredients on hand. In Australia, even on the smallest balconies, it’s possible to cultivate your own fruit, herbs and vegetables. You might be surprised at how easy it is to grow crops, especially if your outdoor area gets a lot of regular sun.

Here are 10 starter herbs, veggies and fruits to fire up your family’s green thumb and your cooking skills.

HERBS

1. Basil

Leafy green and highly fragrant, basil adds flavour to pizzas, pasta, minestrone and a range of other Mediterranean dishes. All this herb needs in order to thrive is a pot and some moist soil. Basil needs regular pruning, so make the most of your bounty and whip up a few batches of pesto.

minstone SI 4

2.  Parsley

With the right amount of sun and water, curly or flat leaf parsley is easy to grow on a balcony or in the garden. Rich in Vitamins A, C and B12, parsley has been said to act as a natural breath freshener and an antidote to garlic breath! Parsley is very versatile and works as a garnish or as an ingredient in a range of sauces.

3. Chives

Yum! Chives are a tasty way to bring pasta sauces and seafood dishes to life. This grass-like herb is suitable for most Australian climates and takes up very little room, so it’s the perfect balcony plant. Chives love the sun and can be easily grown from seed.

4. Oregano

Oregano is thought to have originated in Greece, but it is used in both Greek and Italian dishes as a flavour-boosting ingredient. Perennial oregano makes a nice ground cover for other pot plants and grows very easily from seeds, cuttings or pre-grown pots from the nursery. You won’t need to give it a huge amount of attention, just plenty of water.

VEGETABLES

5. Zucchini

The quintessential Mediterranean vegetable, zucchini is easy to grow in Australia. You will only have to wait around a month between planting and plate – great news for your veggie lasagne, grilled antipasto dishes and stuffed zucchini recipes. Start your zucchini seeds off in pots before transferring to a rich soil in the garden. The added bonus? Delectable zucchini flowers!

6. Cherry tomatoes

Pop them into well-fertilised soil and watch these little ruby beauties take off. Fresh cherry tomatoes are delicious as a snack, chopped up on bruschetta or thrown into a rustic Kransky dish. They need care to begin with, but once your plant gets going, you’ll be amazed at how plentiful they are.

Cannellini SI 2

7. Cucumber

Cucumber grows on a climbing plant, so as long as it has plenty of sun it can live on balconies or in a small garden. When planted during the warmer months, fresh cucumbers can be harvested within a matter of weeks and added to any number of dishes.

FRUIT

8. Passionfruit

With its distinct flowers, the passionfruit vine is a decorative addition to your pergola and gives the added benefit of a tangy fruit crop. The vine requires a lot of sun (around six hours a day), a sturdy structure to grow on and plenty of water. It also needs patience – it takes around 18 months to produce fruit to add to your desserts or to eat straight from the vine.

9. Strawberries

Children will be delighted to discover fresh strawberries in a patch in the garden or in a hanging basket or pot on the balcony. Tips for growing these versatile berries include giving them plenty of space and not planting them where you’ve had eggplants, tomato or potato.

10. Figs

Add a taste of the Mediterranean to your garden with your own home-grown figs. With a little bit of patience and a lot of sun, your reward after a few months will be fresh figs to pair with ham in a zesty salad.

fig salad SI 3

Growing fresh food is not only good for you, it’s a wonderful activity for the whole family to enjoy, so why not liven up your outdoor space with your own edible garden.

Keep your plants flourishing by doing your research and following advice from your local nursery. Plan what you are going to grow and you’ll be able to reap what you sow all year round by experimenting with an abundance of tasty new recipes.

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