Starting your first veggie garden

image of hands planting a seedling in the ground

Veggie gardens can seem like a largely adult concept, reserved for people who own their own homes and buy organic milk at the supermarket, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Growing your own produce may seem difficult, but it’s a great way to save money and incorporate more fresh food into your diet without breaking your uni budget. Regardless of whether you live in a dorm on campus or have moved into your first grown-up house with friends or your partner, there’s a way to make a veggie garden work for you, no matter what colour your thumbs are.

Start simple

If the idea of starting a garden seems daunting to you, start with plants that are easy to grow and difficult to kill. Herbs are a great candidate for this. They take root very quickly, and will handle the transition from the plant store pot to your garden bed well. As a bonus, they are very quick to yield produce that can be used in your dishes, and will regrow very fast. If you’re the kind of person who buys herbs in the supermarket regularly, you’ll know that they’re seriously expensive, and usually go bad pretty quickly if you don’t use them all in one go, so growing your own herbs that will stay fresh until you pick them is a great money-saving, flavour-enhancing solution.

Shop the season

Although it may be tempting to get caught up in the excitement of growing your own food and focus on only growing the foods you like the best, your veggie garden will be most successful if you plant and grow the foods that are in season. This has two advantages. The first being that when you buy these plants, they will be dramatically cheaper, and the second is that your plants will grow much better, and will give you tastier produce. This means that coming up to summer you should plant tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, and chili, and as winter comes around you should plant berries, spinach, silverbeet, and root vegetables.

Take advantage of your space

Contrary to popular depictions on Better Home and Gardens, you don’t need a handmade raised garden bed made from recycled wood to create your own veggie garden. No matter where you live, there is a way to incorporate plants into your space. If you live in a dorm, try planting some herbs or smaller veggies like chilies or cherry tomatoes and popping them in pots on your windowsill. If you live in a unit or a house without loads of outdoor space, look for vertically growing plants like citrus trees, passionfruit vines, or avocado plants. These can be placed outside against walls where they will be out of the way, but able to grow and flourish. If you have a bit more space, mix and match pots to create an array of plants, placing thin and tall plants at the back, and wide small pots of herbs at the front to ensure that they all get the sunlight they need.