Are you growing food to eat or to embellish?

While I have always grown herbs and vegies, our budget challenge is changing the way I think about what we do grow. I realise now that I had previously not considered the produce we grew when deciding what to cook – how stupid can you get???? The truth is, we would just buy what we thought we might need, then add a few bits from the garden to a meal here and there. This would mean that whilst we may have a silverbeet crop in need of picking, it can always be used next week, so we don’t pick more than a leaf or two to add to meals. This could go on for months, and before I know it, the plant goes to seed or the outer leaves gradually wilt and die off. It’s just another form of food waste – only it never makes it to the fridge!

It probably seems obvious to people that are used to growing more of their own food, but for those of us with tiny gardens, we don’t tend to rely on a supply for the kitchen. There’s been a shift in our house, as what I am thinking now is: what can I use from the garden as the basis of a meal this week? There have been some easy ones: warrigul greens in baked ricotta, silverbeet with ricotta in wholemeal tortillas (I was amazed how quick this meal was), jerusalem artichokes in soups, and of course, basil pesto and cherry tomatoes on pizza and capsicums grilled as the basis of a pasta sauce.

Warrigul greens climb up to save space

Warrigul greens climb up to save space


I must have worked something out as I decided there was no need to buy any vegies this week, even when there were only a few things left in the fridge. I was also very fortunate to get to the food swap at Ceres on Saturday morning to find some goodies I don’t have in the garden. Here’s what we swapped for a big bunch of our lemon verbena.
From Ceres food swap!

From Ceres food swap!


We will really make the most of the vegies from our garden this week: pumpkin, jerusalem artichokes, radishes, basil (pesto already done!), warrigul greens and all the salad leaves we can eat. With a few carrots, some potatoes and garlic already on hand, we really don’t need any more.

It goes without saying that a small garden means we can only grown small amounts of food, but it’s easy to overlook the value that can add to your dinner table: small gardens can produce entire meals several times a week!

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