Foods beginners can learn to grow

Get your hands in the earth and discover the pleasures of growing your own fresh, delicious food.

Written by Caitlin Saville

In a time where many of us are ditching our one-use items for the likes of keep cups, green bags and bamboo toothbrushes, it’s no wonder there’s a growing wave of modern-day green thumbs leading the charge in edible gardens.

There are plenty of benefits to growing your own food, like saving yourself grocery money, having fresh herbs on hand, and of course reducing your carbon footprint. However, the best part is the sweet taste of satisfaction when you’re tucking into your own labour of love.

Gone are the days of needing a farm or even a backyard to toil over your veggies. Today people are transforming their balconies, courtyards and even rooftops into little green havens.

With a few handy hints, you can fill that empty outdoor space and create your own fresh produce aisle that will keep your crisper ticking over all year round.

Let’s dig in.


How to grow it

Mint is fast-growing with a vigorous root system. Once it takes off it doesn’t need much upkeep. Plant it in a damp, semi-shaded spot with room to stretch out.

How to use it

Tabbouleh! This fresh, zesty salad is delicious on its own or with crispy falafels and a dollop of hummus. Chop up fresh mint, parsley and tomatoes, stir through pre-cooked quinoa and drizzle with lemon juice.

MORE: Quinoa tabbouleh recipe

Leafy greens

How to grow them

These guys grow all year round and in the smallest of gardens, or even pots. Pack them in tightly amongst the shade and watch the fruits of your labour grow. Make sure to pick the leaves regularly to stop them from going to seed.

How to use them

Fresh leafy greens are the base of any fresh salad. Make up your own or get inspiration from our huge salad recipe collection.

MORE: Delicious salad recipes

Cherry tomatoes

How to grow them

Cherry toms need tons of sun and a stern green thumb. These suckers run rogue so use a stake or wireframe to help them grow up rather than out. The more upright they are, the easier it is for sunlight to reach the whole plant.

How to use them

Cherry tomato and asparagus bruschetta is a delicious go-to lunch. Get yourself a crusty piece of sourdough and decorate it with chopped tomatoes and chargrilled asparagus before drizzling with olive oil.

MORE: Bruschetta with asparagus and cherry tomatoes recipe


How to grow them

Sunlight and water are all it takes for zucchinis to flourish. Don’t get carried away with planting too many too close though – these babies grow big!

How to use them

A grated zucchini and carrot salad tossed with avocado is easy, delicious and healthy.

MORE: Zucchini and carrot salad recipe

Spring onions

How to grow them

Stick them in some quality soil and voila – they’re there to stay. These persistent scallions don’t need much, aside from a hungry mouth to match their speedy growing rate.

How to use them

Toss them through a salad or use them as a garnish to add a little pizzazz to your dish. If you’re looking for something heartier, try using them in a mushroom risotto.

MORE: Beef, shiitake and spring onion risotto recipe


How to grow them

If you’re short on horizontal space but rich in vertical space, cucumbers are for you. These spindly climbers will grow up fences, trellis or wireframes. They’re happiest reaching for the sun, so try not to overcrowd them.

How to use them

Blend up cucumbers, mint, lime juice and water for the most refreshing and hydrating drink you’ll ever sip.

MORE: Cucumber, mint and lime agua fresca recipe

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Written by Caitlin Saville

Caitlin Saville lives in Melbourne and has worked in the world of books, films and opera. You can follow her on Twitter @cjaville.

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