Story and Photo by Ewa Bekiesch, Certified Permaculture Designer and Educator, QLD Pacific Haven
(This is the article I wrote for our local monthly magazine The Beacon, Issue 2, 2018)
Let’s Talk Vegetables
Based on the new report from the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare, all Australians (99%) aged 2–18, and 9 in 10 adults aged 19 and over do not eat the recommended number of daily serves of vegetables.
The food we eat plays an important role in our health and well-being. Good nutrition contributes to quality of life, helps maintain healthy body weight, protects against infection, and reduces the risk of chronic conditions and premature death. Chronic conditions—often linked with a poor diet—are the major cause of ill health in Australia (Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare).
We are so fortunate to have this great climate on the Fraser Coast that growing own vegetables is not a big challenge. Some basic understanding about gardening is enough to have healthy greens and vegetables all year round. It is very rewarding, always fresh, the taste is amazing and… you know what you eat!
All kind of heirloom and organic seeds can be found on the internet or at our local swap group. The local markets are great place to find all sorts of vegetables seedlings and organic fertilizers like mushroom or chicken manure which are essential if you want to grow your own food.
And what to do with the surplus? It can be shared with friends and family or swapped at the local Garden Food Swap in Howard. You can swap all sorts of home grown or home made food, seedlings, seeds and have a good time with like minded. More info on Facebook at: Garden Food Swap Howard And Surrounds.
Edible of the month to plant now: Tomato. Loves half shade and protection from the midday and afternoon sun. It needs a good amount of organic fertilizer like blood and bone, fermented or aged animal manure (fresh one won’t work that well) and some wood ash would be great. It will also be happy about some mulch on top. You can harvest your first tomato in about 6 weeks from when you see the fist flower. Tomatoes are self-pollinating which means that they don’t need bees for pollination and so you can easily protect them with a fine net from the fruit flies and the sun.
Edible of the month ready for harvest now: Cucumbers. Low in calories but high in water and several important vitamins and minerals like Vitamin C, K, Potassium, Magnesium and Fiber. Eating cucumbers with the peel provides the maximum amount of nutrients. Can be eaten fresh, naturally fermented or pickled.
Some other of the many edibles you can plant right now: beans, beetroot, capsicum, carrot, celery, chili, cucumber, eggplant, ginger, luffa, pumpkin, rockmelon, rosella, squash, sweet corn, watermelon, zucchini
Tip for beginners: start with perennial edibles. There is not much you can do wrong and you can harvest your first greens nearly straight away!