Garden Toast

Garden Toast

Garden toast is something I created one day when I was scraping together something for lunch and all I had was a crust and some cottage cheese in the fridge. I didn’t have any avocado, eggs or anything special to have with it. So I went out into the garden and found some inspiration! I picked two small tomatoes, herbs and edible flowers. It looked like a mini garden on toast and now I can’t stop making these beautiful, tasty creations!

Here are the creations I have made so far..

Original Garden Toast

My first addition with the last piece of bread I had left! I had fun making this and it definitely tasted delicious! Ingredients: Rye Multigrain toast, Cottage Cheese, Fresh tomato, Parsley, Rosemary, Rosemary flowers, Zinnia Petals and Basil leaves.

Fairy Garden Toast

It’s amazing what a little bit of Beetroot juice can do! Natual colouring and plenty of beneficial nutrients with an array of micro herbs and greens. You may even be able to convince your kids to eat more greens with this Fairy Garden toast. Get them involved in the process by having a bowl each to go outside and collect herbs. Ingredients: White Multigrain Toast, Cottage Cheese mixed with beetroot juice or fresh grated Beetroot, Baby Nasturtium leaves, Parsley leaves, Basil leaves, Sweet Violet flowers, Rosemary Flowers, Baby Pink chard leaves, Pink Zinnia Flower petals and Dill Flowers.

Jungle Garden Toast

Packed full of herbs and flavour! Ingredients: Country Grain Toast, Basil Pesto, Orange Nasturtium petals, Tiger Eye Viola Petals, Strawberry Flowers, Parsley leaves, Rosemary Flowers, Pea tendril, Burgundy Marigold Petals and Purple basil leaves.

Summer Garden Toast

Summer on toast! Homegrown tomatoes are so sweet and delicious and tomato on toast is one of my favourite ways to eat them! Ingredients: Rye Multigrain toast, Red, yellow, orange cherry tomatoes, Purslane, Red basil leaves, Strawberry Flower, Sweet Violet Flower, Dill flowers, Rosemary Flowers, chopped Purple Kale, baby Nasturtium leaves and Fresh Chilli.

Botanical Garden Toast

Pest on toast is so delicious! I made extra pesto and if you follow me on Instagram you would have seen that I ate this for breakfast for an entire week! It was also so good with a poached egg on top. Ingredients: Sourdough toast, Basil pesto, Cottage Cheese, Chopped walnuts, Fresh Chilli, Basil Leaves, Fennel Flowers, Pink and White Dianthus, Baby Pumpkin Tendrils, Parsley Leaves and Strawberry Flowers.

Unicorn Garden Toast

My latest creation and maybe my favourite yet! Purple sweet potato spread is a vibe! Ingredients: Sourdough Toast, Mashed Purple Sweet Potato and Cottage Cheese, Overnight Pickled Red Cabbage and Red Onion (1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, a teaspoon of sugar heated to dissolve. Pour cooled liquid over Cabbage and Onion), Purple Kale, Grilled Baby Eggplant, Purple Pansy, Multicoloured Dianthus, Rosemary Flowers and Red Basil.

Get Inspired by your Garden

There is always something in my garden to make a toast topping and I love how easy and creative it is! Each piece is so unique and full of fresh garden nutrients! Having these ideas tried and tested means I know I can always whip up something even when my fridge is looking very lean.

Get creative and inspired by your own garden. There is something so satisfying about being able to walk outside and make a meal from your own fresh, homegrown veggies. This is a great meal idea for beginner gardeners who don’t have many established edibles. Just look out for baby leaves and edible flowers (make sure you research and clearly identify they are edible). Baby leaves and flowers can add subtle flavours and turn any dish into a work of art!

Be sure to tag me on Instagram or Facebook so I can see your creations!

Holly 🌱

MY GARDENING ESSENTIALS //
Fertiliser spray gun: https://bit.ly/366nL1t
Retractable Hose: https://bit.ly/2TSC0Bo
More gardening tools: https://bit.ly/32IQmbD

DISCLAIMER: Links included in this description might be affiliate links. If you purchase a product or service with the links that I provide I may receive a small commission. There is no additional charge to you! Thank you for supporting my page so I can continue to provide you with free content!

18 ways to become more self-sufficient

18 ways to become more self-sufficient

I wrote this post before the current restrictions of lockdown were in place for many people but hopefully, you can still find useful information and inspiration to get you started on your journey to a more self-sufficient lifestyle.

There is no better time to start growing your own food than NOW. Creating your own food security and using your time to help create a greener world is win-win. I have always had the dream of growing my own food and living a more sustainable lifestyle and it is something that I have been continually building and working towards for years. I don’t want to be 100% self-sufficient because there are just some things I either won’t be able to grow or choose not to grow. But there are plenty of ways to supplement my homegrown food supply such as trading, swapping, and local farmers markets. I have put together (in no particular order) 18 simple ways you can start living a more self-sufficient lifestyle today.

1. Start a Herb Garden

No matter whether you have a big garden or live in a tiny apartment, growing herbs can be easy and takes up very little space. Grow in small pots, recycled containers, hanging planter or windowsill planters. If you like to use herbs it is a great first step towards self-sufficiency. And no, that does not mean buying those packed herb pots from the supermarket…. they are often grown hydroponically and then placed in the soil so they rarely survive long and don’t handle being planted out into real life. Get a packet of seeds and try growing your own πŸ™‚

2. Start a Vegetable Patch

The best way to learn how to grow vegetables is to simply start trying! Start small with either a planter box or convert one small patch of your garden or even driveway into an edible vegetable patch. You can also start by simply integrating edibles amongst your established garden. Once you start growing some things you can start expanding bit by bit. Goodbye grass πŸ™‚

3. Plant Fruit Trees

I love fruit trees because although they take a while to get going, once they do, they are abundant and don’t require as much care as vegetables. You can plant them in either a large pot or directly into the garden. I would recommend going to a local specialist fruit tree nursery so they can help you choose the best fruit tree for your location. Also, make sure you get something with fruit you actually enjoy! With the abundant produce you can then preserve, swap and trade with others!

4. Grow Base Crops

I couldn’t think what else to call them but growing crops that will feed you for longer and create a good base to fill your pantry. Crops such a Pumpkins, Potatoes, Onions, Garlic and Sweet potatoes will provide decent amounts of food that you can store and use throughout the year! A great base vegetable to feed a family.

5. Grow Soil

Composting is not only great for the fertility of your soil and the secret to AMAZING vegetables but also stops waste going to landfill. There are a whole bunch of ways to do this depending on your living situation. You can make your own compost bin out of recycled wood, find a second-hand tumbler online or purchase one. You can also simply dig a hole in the garden and bury it (be careful of attracting pests though). There are also some new ways for people with no land to connect with others that do and give them your compost scraps. Either community gardens, local Facebook groups or now in Australia there is even an app! Sharewaste

6. Save Seeds

This is just as important as growing food and will be a huge step towards your self-sufficient journey. Saving seeds helps you maintain food security knowing that you have more healthy seeds to grow next year. Save seeds from your healthiest plants that thrive in your garden. Keep them in a dry dark place.

7. Grow Community

Get your friends involved! Take them over a basket of homegrown food or preserves. Once they see your delicious fresh food they may also get inspired! Help them out with seeds, cuttings and surround yourself with like-minded people. Community gardens can be a great place to learn, get involved and even seed/ produce swap. It can be an amazing network of knowledge, especially in relation to your local climate and growing conditions. There are also some great social media forums and groups that are great for finding answers to your questions and local knowledge.

8. Shop Local

Explore your local farmer’s markets! Grab a friend and go have a browse! They are usually on a Saturday or Sunday morning and I look forward to it every week. Although I love my local farmers market (Kalamunda) every few months I like to check out other farmers markets to mix things up and find new and interesting produce. Bulk food stores have been making a come back and I am sold! Lucky for me there is a fantastic Bulk Store ( Replenish Kalamunda) right by my local farmer’s markets. So I head there straight after I have picked up some fresh veggies. They may seem daunting at first but there are always plenty of signs explaining how to do it. I also love how each product clearly states where they have come from as I try to only choose Australian products.

9. Learn to Cook from Scratch

This is a big one! Learning to cook a wide range of meals from scratch using simple ingredients is key! I mean we can all make a butter chicken right…you just get the sauce and pour it in… Ditch the sauces from the supermarket and learn to make your own. I am constantly experimenting and expanding my knowledge so I can make a wide selection of meals from the produce I grow. Try to buy vegetables that are in season and fruits and vegetables that you are planning to grow. That way you can practice and become a pro at recipes for YOUR future harvests!

10. Grow Food From Scraps

Ok, this is one of my favourites! It is so quick and easy and a lot of fun! Plus you are getting the most out of your food. Buy one get multiple free!! Cut off the ends of your farmers market vegetables such as Spring Onion, Leek, Pineapple, Sweet Potato and regrow!

11. Forage and Trade

Keep an eye out on your walks and day trips for wild or excess food. So often there are olive trees, fruit, nuts or wild apple trees going to waste. Do your research and learn how to identify plants. That way you will know what you are looking at. It is also important to be careful if things have been sprayed by the council. I would be always cautious of things such as blackberries. You may even notice a neighbours tree loaded with fruit that is going to waste on the ground. Politely ask if you can have some in exchange for some preserves or baking you make with it. They will probably be happy for it to be used!

12. Repair and Upcycle

Get the most out of your things by fixing or updating them! Even if you don’t know how, you may be able to pay someone a fraction of the cost to fix it rather than buying brand new. We often are so quick to throw out and buy new, we don’t even stop to consider if it can be fixed or repurposed. My hair straighteners and been fixed multiple times by electrician friends over the past 12 years and are still working amazingly! Recovering cushions, couches, DIY, get creative and even find a local seamstress if you don’t have access to a sewing machine.

13. Shop Second Hand

I try my best to not buy new and it is something I am continuing to work on. Most items you want can be found on Facebook market place, Gumtree (Trademe, Craigslist, etc). You can usually pick up a bargain and keep things in the loop rather than consuming more new things. You can even post in your local community groups and borrow or buy. Especially with things like appliances as many people often have them sitting in the cupboard collecting dust…Pasta maker, I’m talking about you πŸ™‚

14. Backyard Chickens

Chickens make an excellent addition to sustainable living. They provide eggs, eat leftover scraps, produce manure for fertilising your garden and can they also be incorporated into an integrated pest management system to help you keep your slugs and snails at bay. Many councils will allow backyard chickens in suburbia. Although I do not have chickens …yet (Pictured above is mums ‘Chick Inn’) my council – City of Kalamunda allows x6 backyard chickens on properties 600sqm -2000sqm.

15. Back to Basics

Bread/milk/butter/pizza dough. The age-old skill of baking your own bread is a fantastic skill to have! How amazing to just whip up a fresh loaf of bread or make your own pizza bread without the preservatives or plastic packaging. Milk is super easy and you can make delicious plastic, preservative-free milk whenever you want! Whether that’s oat, rice or almond milk.

16. Learn to Preserve Harvests

I am not really at a point yet where I have an abundance of produce to preserve but I have planted a lot of fruit trees…so I am starting to learn different ways to preserve things so that when I am flooded with produce (yay!) I will be able to make the most of it! Get some produce from the farmer’s markets and give it a go! Jams, chutneys, sauces, pickles, nasturtium capers and all those delicious things. They also make great gifts and can be used to swap for other produce with your friends and family and community.

17. Make your Own

Ditch the toxic chemicals and pesticides and start making your own natural cleaning and garden products. You can get a few ingredients from your local bulk stores such as white vinegar and bicarb soda and make a huge range of cleaning products. Check out my Citrus cleaner here. I also used crushed eggshells to keep slugs and snails at bay. Natural pest management

18. Learn, Read, Practice

I can’t stress how important this is! Knowledge is power. Join your local library and get a book on jam making or search YouTube for “how to prune a lemon tree”. Educating yourself and giving things a go will get you a long way on your journey to living a more self-sufficient lifestyle. Take things one a time and really try and master it before moving on. It can be overwhelming if you try to do it all at once and may lead to failure and giving up.

Small and slow solutions!

Holly 🌱

Β 

MY GARDENING ESSENTIALS //
Fertiliser spray gun: https://bit.ly/366nL1t
Retractable Hose: https://bit.ly/2TSC0Bo
More gardening tools: https://bit.ly/32IQmbD

DISCLAIMER: Links included in this description might be affiliate links. If you purchase a product or service with the links that I provide I may receive a small commission. There is no additional charge to you! Thank you for supporting my page so I can continue to provide you with free content!

How to keep plants alive in a heatwave

How to keep plants alive in a heatwave

When I first started gardening here I remember googling ” how to keep plants alive in a heatwave?” πŸ˜… Welcome to Perth summer gardening! I have always struggled with how hot it gets here in Perth in summer. After 7 years here, the 40degree days don’t get any easier! We have a large amount of thermal mass at our house with concrete and paved areas so it can get so hot in my garden! One of the main reasons I decided to make pallet planters on wheels was to be able to grow more food during the hot summer months by being able to have them undercover on hot days. Watch how we made them here.

How to keep plants alive in a heatwave

If you are experiencing a heatwave or have days of hot weather ahead of you, here are a few tips I use to try and get my plants through!

🌱 WATER | Give a good deep water early in the morning. This will allow time for the moisture to reach the roots before it evaporates.

🌱 SHADE | If your plants are in containers move them undercover or to a shady area of your garden. Otherwise, try and rig up some temporary shade using shade cloth or even umbrellas to keep the direct sun off your plants during the hottest part of the day.

🌱 PROTECT THE SOIL | Ensure you have a good layer of mulch or ground cover over your entire garden. This will protect the soil from being exposed to direct sun and reduce the amount of water loss through evaporation.

🌱 BUILD SOIL | This is something that should be continually worked on by composting and adding more fibre and leaf matter to your soil. Sandy soils like we have here in Perth allow all the water to drain away and can become severely water-resistant. But by consistently mulching, composting and adding green matter, you will not only grow strong, healthy plants but also protect your plants from future dry spells. Healthy soil is key!

🌱 REPLENISH | As the sun goes down and the temperatures start to drop again, give your plants another well-earnt drink. This should help their leaves perk back up again.

🌱 SAVE SEEDS | If you notice a certain plant seems to survive better than others in hot weather, make sure you save the seeds at the end of the season. That way you can futureproof your garden by growing strong plants that you know will grow well in your exact climate.

My favourite watering tools are:

Retractable Hose with 7 spray nozzle and water flow adjuster: Control exactly how much flow you want to each plant with an easy retractable hose system. CLICK HERE for more info.

Deep root waterer and soil breaker: Helps get water directly to the roots without any runoff or loss of water from evaporation. CLICK HERE for more info.

Weeper hose works great for drip-feeding water and allowing the plants to absorb more. CLICK HERE for more info.

Happy Gardening!

Holly 🌱

MY GARDENING ESSENTIALS //
Fertiliser spray gun: https://bit.ly/366nL1t
Retractable Hose: https://bit.ly/2TSC0Bo
More gardening tools: https://bit.ly/32IQmbD

DISCLAIMER: Links included in this description might be affiliate links. If you purchase a product or service with the links that I provide I may receive a small commission. There is no additional charge to you! Thank you for supporting my page so I can continue to provide you with free content!

Natural Pest Management

Natural Pest Management

I much prefer offering natural and sustainable solutions rather than a pointless list of negative things not to do. But this topic is something I am very passionate about and something new gardeners often get caught up in (including myself when I first started growing food many years ago). You will find my list of natural pest management remedies below πŸ™‚

When you first start growing food you will get slugs and snails eating your new precious veggies and will want to INSTANTLY fix the situation. I see some newbie gardeners pour on huge amounts of snail bait to combat the hungry predators. This is POISON, not only will it kill the slugs and snails but is also deadly to cats and dogs. Now, if it can kill dogs, having it covering the soil and getting watered in and absorbed into the soil that your vegetable will feed on, especially those root vegetables, cannot be good for us.

If you’re reading this and thinking…I do this..you are not alone. It is something that has been a β€œnorm” for way too long. But the first step you can take is safely throw out your poisonous slug bait. I would place it in something that animals can’t get into in case it crosses paths or they get into the bins. Even better, contact your local council to find the best way to safely dispose of it.

Watch my latest video

There are plenty of ways to naturally combat pests and have safe and nontoxic vegetables for your family.

  1. Eggshells – Save your eggshells and dry in the oven on low. Then crush into small pieces and place in a jar. Sprinkle this around the base of your vegetables and the slugs and snails do not like the surface so will stay away. It also adds some beneficial calcium to your soil.
  2. Plant extras – Plant a few extra plants in different areas of your garden so that if one gets attacked you still have plenty πŸ™‚
  3. Encourage beneficial insects – Plant diversity and flowers to create habitats and attract beneficial insects. You could even make an insect hotel using lots of different sized sticks and logs for them to live 🐞🐝
  4. Manually remove – Go out and check your garden and remove the pests by hand. I often do this when I am on the phone, its a great way to multitask.
  5. Beer Traps – Cheaper the better, there is no need to use up any fancy craft beer. Place little containers around your vegetable patch and this will capture the slugs and snails before they get to your precious veggies 🍺
  6. Coffee grounds – Often your workplace or local cafe will be throwing these out anyway. Sprinkle around the base. Only add a small amount as it will change the PH of the soil β˜•οΈ
  7. Companion Plants – Often very fragrant plants will repel pests. These are plants such as: Marigolds and Rosemary 🌼🌿
  8. Soapy Water – this is great for aphids. All my dishwashing liquid is non-toxic and greywater friendly so I just mix up some diluted in water and paint it on the new growth that is affected by aphids. This is the last resort though as it may harm beneficial insects too. Try and isolate the coverage.
  9. Chilli spray – Mix up some chilli powder in some water and spray on your affected plants. I have read crushed garlic as well but that is bad for dogs so I would avoid.
  10. Healthy Soil – growing healthy soil by composting and mulching helps keep your plants strong and healthy πŸ’ͺ this means that if they do get bugs they can survive and thrive after an infestation.
  11. Sacrificial plants – Usually one plant will just get attacked and I just leave it. It usually means the bugs will only eat that plant and the rest will be fine! Sorry for that one plant but it’s feeding nature…🌿
  12. Chickens and ducks are also a great way to integrate natural pest management into your garden. Win-win πŸ›πŸ¦†

MY GARDENING ESSENTIALS //
Fertiliser spray gun: https://bit.ly/366nL1t
Retractable Hose: https://bit.ly/2TSC0Bo
More gardening tools: https://bit.ly/32IQmbD

DISCLAIMER: Links included in this description might be affiliate links. If you purchase a product or service with the links that I provide I may receive a small commission. There is no additional charge to you! Thank you for supporting my page so I can continue to provide you with free content!

18 Lettuce Substitutes to eat all year round

18 Lettuce Substitutes to eat all year round

It’s no secret in Australia and New Zealand that the price of lettuce has lost the plot.. $7.50 – $12 for a whole lettuce or $7 a bag 150gram mixed leaves. Now, obviously, this varies from place to place but these 18 substitutes for lettuce will allow you to have salad and sandwich greens all year round! You may already have some of these growing in your garden.

Many of these 18 lettuce substitutes have more nutrients and multiple uses so you can get more out of the food you grow. Lettuce is often used in sandwiches and salads so for today’s lettuce alternatives I will share which ones are best for these two main uses.

Click below to Watch Lettuce Substitutes

18 Substitutes for Lettuce

1. Calendula

Calendula is an edible flower and the leaves are also edible. Calendula leaves do have quite a strong flavour but you can add a few of these to your salads or sandwiches. Calendula flowers also have many healing qualities as well as attract pollinators to the garden. An amazing multi-use plant to add to your edible garden.

calendula

2. Nasturtium

Nasturtiums thrive well in most soil types and you will often see them spilling out onto the street from gardens or popping up in the wild. They have quite a weed-like growth because they are so easy to grow and self-seed. The whole plant is edible including the leaves, flowers, and seed pods. Nasturtium leaves are great for salads and are also the perfect size and shape to add to sandwiches. With a natural peppery flavour, Nasturtiums are a great substitute for lettuce.

3. Baby Beetroot Leaves

Baby Beetroot leaves can be harvested a few off each plant to use in salads and sandwiches. Beetroot leaves can have beautiful red veins or be entirely red depending on the variety. A beautiful and nutritious substitute for lettuce.

4. Rocket / Arugula

Rocket or Arugula is a popular substitute for Lettuce. Rocket has a distinct peppery taste and is delicious in salads, sandwiches and served on top of pizzas. Rocket grows quickly so if you plant both Rocket and Lettuce seeds you will have Rocket ready to eat while you wait for the lettuce to get established.

5. Kale

Kale is a popular substitute for lettuce and can be grown all year round in many climates. Kale comes in many varieties some are better than others for salads and sandwiches. My favourite is the Tuscan Kale as it has a softer texture. Choose the smaller leaves and chop Kale up finely to add to salads and sandwiches.

6. Purslane

Purslane is an edible weed that has succulent-like leaves. Purslane thrives in dry climates and is often popping up in my gardens in Perth. Purslane is a great addition to salads and sandwiches as an alternative to lettuce.

7. Sweet Violet

Sweet violets are known for their delicate purple or white flowers and beautiful fragrant scent. The sweet violet leaves are also edible and can be added to salads and sandwiches. They do have a bitter flavour so it can be a good idea to mix a few with other greens.

8. Rainbow Chard

Rainbow chard is a fantastic versatile green to grow during the colder months of the year. Baby rainbow chard leaves can be picked and used in salads and sandwiches. Larger leaves contain more oxalic acid so it is recommended to blanch them first.

9. Celery

Celery is a fresh, crunchy and hydrating vegetable just like lettuce. Celery leaves and stalks can be used in both salads and sandwiches.

10. Cabbage

Cabbage is a great all-around vegetable that has many culinary uses. Finely sliced cabbage is a deliciously fresh and crunchy substitute for lettuce. A little bit of Cabbage goes a long way so it is a very economical vegetable.

11. Asian Greens/ Bok Choy, Tatsoi, Choy Sum

Asian greens such as Bok Choy are great additions to your edible garden because they grow fast, can be harvested multiple times from each plant and are versatile in the kitchen. Use the softy leafy ends in salads and sandwiches and the thicker stems in soups or stir-fries.

12. Dandelion Greens

Dandelions are another edible weed. Choose young dandelion greens to add to salads and sandwiches as a substitute for lettuce. Always make sure you identify weeds correctly and only forage from places you know have not been sprayed with chemicals.

13. Sweet Potato Leaves

Sweet Potato Leaves are abundant green in the garden. Use the young leaves in a salad or blanch or stirfry the larger leaves.

14. Spinach

Spinach is another popular substitute for lettuce and is a versatile plant to have in the garden. Baby spinach leaves are best for raw salads or sandwiches due to the oxalic acid contained in the plant.

15. Chickweed

Chickweed (Stellaria media) is an edible weed that grows in abundance during winter. Chickweed has small delicate leaves and flowers and loves to grow in moist shady spots during winter. Chickweed has a mild fresh flavour similar to sprouts and makes a delicious lettuce substitute. Chickweed is also a popular feed for chickens.

16. Carrot & Radish Tops

Carrot tops and Radish tops can be finely sliced to add to salads. The younger leaves will be more tender than the older larger ones. Finely slice and drizzle with salad dressing. They can also be wilted down in the pan to soften first. The tops also go great in a Garden Pesto to dress your salads.

17. Watercress

Watercress grows in abundance during the winter months and is a great substitute for lettuce. Watercress does have a strong peppery flavour so it can be good to mix a little with other more mild greens and a dressing. Watercress is also good for soups and stir-fries. Watercress can be foraged but always ensure you have a safe source with no chemicals contaminating it.

18. Parsley

Parsley is a common herb that is often under-utilized. Parsley can be delicious chopped up fine in a salad or added to a sandwich! Flat leaf parsley is my favourite variety for this.

Sustainable Living Alternatives

The great thing about growing food is you have access to so many parts of the plant that are often discarded. Learning what parts of the plant are edible and how to use them can help you double your food supply overnight!

There are many more options than this so let me know in the comments if you use any of these or if you use other plants as lettuce substitutes in your garden. That will help others that find this post and are looking for more ways to expand their food source.

Of course, grab yourself some lettuce seeds too, and get your own little salad bar growing. I like to grow mixed loose leaf varieties and then I pick one or two leaves of each plant. Combined with other greens from your garden you can make your salad greens go a whole lot further.

NOTE: It’s important to note that some greens from the garden do contain higher levels of oxalic acid than others. This can block the absorption of some nutrients. Oxalic acid is reduced by cooking which is why many leafy greens such as spinach and chard are cooked first. This is mainly only a problem if you eat a lot of that plant. So by chopping up a little from each and choosing the younger leaves you can reduce the amount of oxalic acid consumed.

Sustainable Gardening HACKS for Time-Poor Gardeners

Sustainable Gardening HACKS for Time-Poor Gardeners

10 Sustainable Gardening hacks to ensure your garden is quick and easy to maintain for sustainable long-term growth. Do you want to grow an edible garden and harvest delicious organic food straight from your own backyard but… you don’t have enough time in the day? Whether you are a busy parent or your spare time is already devoted to hobbies, sports, growing your business, or other priorities and you want to ensure your garden is easy to maintain for sustainable long-term growth, then these Sustainable Gardening Hacks are perfect for you!

Lazy gardening is actually an amazing thing! It means you are working smarter, not harder, and have systems in place to work with nature to get abundant harvests.

So let’s not waste any time and get straight into it…

1. Plant Perennials

Perennial plants are ones that you plant once and they will continue to give you harvests for many years to come. They are the ultimate hack for sustainable gardening! So this is probably my number one tip for lazy or time-poor gardeners.

Perennials are plants such as Fruit Trees, Berries, Bananas, Sweet Potatoes, Rhubarb, Artichoke, and Asparagus. Aromatics such as Ginger and Tumeric, and Herbs such as Rosemary, Lemon Verbena, and Mint. These you plant once and each year they will produce more and more food. There are also many perennial versions of our much-loved annuals such as Perennial Basil, and Perpetual Spinach. This year I have added Egyptian Walking Onions, more Berries, Fruit Trees, Asparagus and Artichoke.

I am converting more and more of my gardens to perennials because not only does that mean I have more time to spend developing new gardens or pouring hours into creating more gardening content but, Perennial Plants also allow a seamless transition and continuous supply of food. Perennials will either produce all year round or they will have certain times of the year when they are fruiting or producing. If you want to really level it up you can plan out when your perennials are ready and ripe and plan to fill in the gaps with other perennials that will be productive during these gaps in the season. For example, my citrus are ready in winter, then over summer I have berries, and in autumn I have Feijoas. My plan is to have a continuous supply of fruit all year round so I will continue to select plants that are ready during the gaps.

2. Chop and Drop

This is a technique of mulching and composting that I use in my urban food forest. Any time I trim my plants or remove any annuals I simply chop up the leaves and branches and drop them around the garden allowing the plant matter to break down and feed my plants. This is very easy to do and I don’t have to move plant material anywhere. It protects the soil from the sun, suppresses weeds and it feeds my soil to help grow more and more food! It’s a win-win situation and saves a lot of time. Fruit trees also love the fungal properties that rotting sticks and branches provide.

This technique works best with a food forest situation rather than a veggie patch, as it would be much harder to spread the plant matter and not cover small seedlings. This may also attract slaters or woodlice which will help break down the plant matter but these little critters are not something you want in your veggie patch.


3. Direct Sow Seeds

This is my favourite way to plant seeds. No, it’s not the most effective, but it saves a lot of time. I find direct sowing seeds straight into the garden can take a bit longer for them to germinate because it might not be the right soil temperatures but once they pop up they will usually be stronger plants. Sowing in seed trays means you can control the conditions and bring them inside which will encourage them to pop up sooner but you need to baby them and care for them. Harden them off by taking them outside so they can get used to outside temperatures before you plant them in the garden. They are just more fiddly and do require more attention. So where I can I go with the survival of the fittest approach and plant a few extra seeds.

4. Grow Soil

If you are time-poor and only have small amounts of time to allocate to your gardens, I would definitely put a big chunk of that into improving your soil and creating soil-improving systems. This will go a long way in creating sustainable gardens. Healthy nutrient-rich soil means your plants will grow faster, they will be stronger and more resilient and they will not succumb to pests and diseases as easily. If your soil is poor and lacks nutrients you will end up spending more time trying to keep your plants alive, more time watering and more time babying your plants.

5. Mulch

Following on from growing soil – keeping your gardens well mulched is a great system to help build soil for sustainable gardens. Mulch will start to break down over time and feed your soil. Mulching also helps keep moisture in so your gardens won’t need as much watering and they help suppress weeds. Weeds are not friends with time-poor or lazy gardeners. So having a thick layer of mulch will help reduce the time needed for weeding and also the weeds that do grow will be so much easier to pull out.

6. Make it Close and Convenient

Choosing a location for your garden can be a make or break for the time-poor or lazy gardener. If you decide to grow your veggie patch or garden down the back of your property or behind the shed, it may start off okay whilst you are full of enthusiasm and feeling inspired, but eventually it will be out of sight and out of mind…. this happens to me all the time and my property is just a suburban block. I plant all my low-maintenance plants such as perennials and fruit trees all in the outer parts of my property and the annuals or plants that require more attention or regular harvesting, within view of my kitchen. In permaculture, we call these zones and it makes so much sense. When it’s raining, dark or you have had a long day, traipsing out to the veggie patch might not be high on the list. But, if you have your gardens close to your house and within view, you might notice something that needs harvesting or attention, and your garden will naturally receive more love and attention because of that. Therefore it will be more productive.

Even If this means you start off with small container gardens and once you master that move on to larger more permanent spaces.

7. Grow Wild

Creating diversity and growing lots of plants all together will not only do amazing things for the number of beneficial insects in your garden, but it can also be a lot more low maintenance. Conventional gardens with neat edges, straight rows, and symmetrical layouts will take a lot more time to maintain. By creating a garden that is a little wilder it will look lush and have less room for weeds to take up home. Even if you do get some weeds they blend in and don’t look too messy and hey, some of them may even be edible or provide flowers for the bees. Edible ground covers are great for this.

8. Let Plants go to Seed

If you let some of your plants go to flower and seed you will have plants popping up all on their own next season. This is another way you can create sustainable garden systems. The great thing about self-sown seeds is that they stay dormant in the soil until they get the right conditions to grow and then they shoot up. With absolutely no effort on your behalf. I have lettuce, tomatoes, basil, and edible flowers pop up nearly every year. Free FOOD! This technique can be amazing but it can also be a little wild at times. It’s important to try to contain the seeds on your property. I let a celery plant go to seed once and I had celery popping up in everywhere!

9. Easy Watering

Watering can take up a lot of time, especially during the warmer months. And if you run out of time or can’t be bothered then you could lose your plants after just one day in the peak of summer (especially if you live here in Perth!). Thinking about watering and creating sustainable watering systems will go such a long way to saving time in the garden.

Some great tips are to install automatic timers and drip lines. Another is to ensure you have a hose nearby to your gardens and make it a retractable hose! Nothing puts you off watering than thinking about unraveling and putting away a hose. A retractable hose can be out and back in seconds and it has honestly been a game-changer for me in my garden!

Mulching will also help with water retention.

10. Get the Plant Selection Right

Selecting the right plants will go a long way toward creating a low-maintenance sustainable garden. We talked about choosing perennials earlier but there are also other plant selection criteria than can really help you grow an abundant garden with less effort.

  • Choose local or native plants. Plants that thrive in your local area will be much more adapted to the conditions and will be easier to grow. Native edible plants are often interesting and unique additions to your garden. They will also attract your local pollinators and wildlife which is a bonus!
  • Choose low-maintenance plants. Some plants require more care and upkeep than others. And some will have a lot more pests and diseases than others. This will vary from place to place.
  • Tomatoes – require staking and tying and are susceptible to pests and diseases. I often grow cherry tomatoes as I find them a lot easier to grow.
  • Stone fruit – Trees such as Nectarines, Peaches, and Plums have soft skin and can be vulnerable to many pests and diseases. Birds, fruit flies, rats, bats, etc. They may require netting or individually bagging fruit to ensure you get a harvest. I have chosen citrus as they have thicker skins and I find them a little more hardy and low maintenance. I have a lot of citrus for that reason such as Lemon, Lime, Blood Orange, Finger Limes, Blood Limes, Kumquat, and Lemonade.
  • Herbs and fragrant plants such as Lemon Verbena, Rosemary, and Ginger are often left alone by pests and are easy to grow.

This is where it is a great idea to visit small local nurseries where you can get helpful advice on what grows well in your local climate.

WATCH Sustainable Gardening HACKS for Time-Poor Gardeners

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10 Edible Plants to Sow in March – Autumn Garden

10 Edible Plants to Sow in March – Autumn Garden

These 10 edible plants to sow in March will get your Autumn garden off to a productive start. These edible plants can all be grown in containers or the garden so you can grow more of your own food at home. I am gardening in Perth, Australia and these 10 edible plants to sow in March are great transition plants to bridge the gap between summer and winter to help you produce a continuous supply of food at home.

There is nothing better than walking out into your garden to pick and harvest your own fresh, nutrient-rich food. No chaotic shops are needed!

WATCH 10 Edible Plants to Sow in March

Top 10 Edible Plants to Sow in March

1. Radish

Raphanus sativus

Radish are so easy to grow, they can handle a range of soils and environments, and they are also one of the quickest veggies to grow! From seed to table in just 4 weeks. Also, the whole plant is edible. The roots are delicious fresh in a salad, or, added to your roast veggies, and the leaves can be chucked into stirfries or blitz to make pesto or chimichurri to dress your salads and meals. There are a lot of different varieties of Radish that range in flavour, so if you don’t enjoy the pepperiness of Radish, choose the white or light coloured varieties. Radish also makes delicious pickles and you all know I’m obsessed with pickles.

If the Radish is not harvested it will send up a flower and create seed pods. The seed pods are also edible when they are young or they can be left to dry and save the seeds for a sustainable food supply.

The thing I love most about Radish is you can plant them in between your veggies. They grow so fast that they are ready to pick before the other vegetables take up too much space. This means you maximise your space to grow more food.

2. Rainbow Chard

Beta vulgaris

Rainbow chard doesn’t do too well in the heat of summer so most climates will only grow chard over the cooler months. Rainbow chard has large leaves so it can lose moisture and wilt quickly. If you plant Chard over the summer choose a shady location. Autumn is a great time to sow your Rainbow Chard seeds. Rainbow Chard is super versatile in the kitchen and it brightens up the winter garden with its’ neon coloured stems.

Rainbow Chard can be used in nearly every meal as a substitute for spinach.

3. Lettuce

Lactuca sativa

Lettuce can be a delicate plant to grow and doesn’t tolerate the heat well. Autumn is a great time to plant lettuce in the garden. If you want to grow lettuce during summer then find a cool spot that receives shade during the hot afternoons. Otherwise, it will just go to flower and seed if it gets too hot and then it tastes awful and bitter. Due to its’ delicate nature, lettuce is best sown in seed trays and planted out into the garden when it is a seedling. Little seeds and seedlings will be susceptible to pests such as slugs, snails and slaters. Check out natural pest management for tips on how to reduce loss from pests.

4. Beetroot

Beta vulgaris

The whole Beetroot plant is edible and the leaves can be used just like chard or spinach. You can pick off the outer leaves just one or two from each plant while they grow to get a prolonged harvest.

Fun fact: Rainbow chard is actually part of the beetroot family!

You can use the roots grated fresh in a salad, roasted beetroot is sooo good, especially the yellow and white varieties they are so sweet! Beetroot is also delicious pickled and canned to preserve the harvest.

I have planted the White, Golden, and Chioggia varieties. The Chioggia has beautiful candy cane stripes. It is also very sweet.

5. Spinach

Spinacia oleracea

Spinach is another great Autumn veggie to plant and will offer you an abundance of greens for the rest of the year. There are many different types of spinach and a few that I like to grow are the Malabar Climbing Spinach – it seems to do well here in Perth as it is more like a succulent type of plant. Perpetual Spinach is also another great producer that can offer you greens for most, if not all of the year.

6. Onions

Allium cepa

Onions are a staple vegetable to grow for adding flavour to meals and there are many different varieties. Planting onions randomly throughout your gardens can help deter pests due to their strong scent. Egyptians walking onions are a great perennial onion variety. They grow onion bulbs on the base like most onions but the difference is, they also grow mini bulbs on the tips too and as these grow they get heavy and bend over to touch the ground and then this bulb will start growing so they sort of move around the garden which is pretty neat! Plus, they just regrow on their own which supports a sustainable garden.

7. Rocket

Eruca vesiculate

Rocket or Arugula is a great leafy green to grow because it is fast-growing and it can be added to a range of meals. Add fresh baby rocket leaves on top of your meals for added flavour and nutrition. Rocket will get quite bitter if it doesn’t get enough water and also will bolt if it’s still too warm. If you are sowing it early in the season or in summer, grow it somewhere with a little shade. I sow little patches of Rocket throughout my garden at different times to have a continuous supply.

8. Rosella

Hibiscus sabdariffa

Rosella is a type of hibiscus that has edible leaves that you can use as a substitute for spinach. The flower buds are edible and are great for making tea, syrups and jams.

Edible Plants to Sow in March

9. Fennel

Foeniculum vulgare

Fennel is a top edible plant to grow at home as the whole plant is edible. During the warmer months, Fennel plants mainly produce leaves/fronds and flowers which are great flavour enhancements for meals or pickling. The fronds can be used to make a delicious pesto. Once the weather cools down in Autumn the bulbs will start to bulk up. Fennel is so crunchy and fresh and pairs really well with citrus. Roasted fennel is also super delicious. There are two main varieties green Florence and bronze. The green Fennel does tend to go a little wilder than the bronze.