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Spring Planting for Summer Eating

Home > Melbourne > Food and Wine | Free
by Julia Hebaiter (aka Julia Svoice) (subscribe)
Highly qualified, established food & lifestyle writer, former restaurateur, founder professional writing business, Articul8. Long, diverse writing history, passion for food culture, the land & inspired food language.
Spring has sprung. It's time to bung on some gardening clothes and get out in the sun. Don't have a green thumb? Are you just plain green when it comes to gardening? That's okay. Anyone can do some spring planting for summer eating. Don't have a back yard? That's okay too. You'd be surprised at the quality and quantity of lovely, fresh herbs and vegetables you can pluck from pots, windowsills, balconies or rooftops.

Another (very fun and social) option is becoming a member of a Community Garden. As the name implies, you share a larger plot of land, within which you're given a smaller plot, with other members of the community. Given their growing popularity, some gardens have a waiting list but don't let that deter you. Find out where they're at and contact them by clicking on your state at the Community Foods website.

So, what to plant now? It largely depends on where you live given different weather conditions will affect what you can successfully plant and grow. While there are many planting guides available, it's also a good idea to speak to your local nursery about any specific conditions that will help your garden be as lush and green as can be.

One of my favourite planting guides comes from Gardening Australia. It gives you a month-by-month guide to what should (if the garden gods smile down upon you) do well in your area. It's simple and straightforward (good for those whose thumb is yet to green). It also allows you to click on the fruit, vegetable, herb or spice of interest for a little more helpful information.

If you want a truly magnificent kitchen garden companion, you can't go past Stephanie Alexanders' Kitchen Garden Companion. It is something you refer to again and again. It includes easy recipes for cooking up your just-plucked produce, and it is a tome I will treasure forever. While the web price is $125, book stores often have it on sale for well under $100.

If you're a novice, I suggest starting with few items and nurturing them well. It's much more rewarding than planting something the likes of a working farm, then finding you can't maintain it, the insects are chomping on it faster than you can mix an organic pesticide – and it all goes to pot.

A couple of extra tips: herbs are so easy to grow. I would be lost without mine, as each meal seems to require a couple of trips out back to pluck a bit of this or that. Herbs re-invent your food and cooking. Grow herbs!

Potatoes seem to grow in all sorts of conditions, despite neglect (or at my place anyway). Digging up a fresh spud is beaut, especially if you grow an interesting variety, like Dutch Creams. Yum! They're so good, they don't even need butter, or maybe just a teensy weensy bit…
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Why? For digging up Dutch Creams to die for.
When: Now
Where: Your Place
Cost: Cheap; the returns are worth it
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