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Spring

Spring in the garden

It's a wonderful time of year to re-emerge into the garden, and enjoy time outdoors with friends and family. As well as getting stuck into planting and pruning, it's a good opportunity to do any maintenance on the exterior of your home and ensure bushfire precautions are in place.

Home grown and community gardens

A baby gardening amongst the vegetables

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Spring is the perfect time to start a vegie garden for your household. It's warmer and more pleasant to be outside, seeds and seedlings are plentiful and ready for planting, and it's the perfect growing conditions to start off those yummy summer greens, beans, and corn. By growing your own you'll be helping your household make healthy choices while reducing the amount of energy used in producing and transporting your food.

First time gardeners and those living in apartments that are short on outdoor space might like to start with large pots and containers. Herbs and salad greens can easily be grown and eaten this way.

Before you get started, find out what grows well in your area and think about the things you're likely to eat before buying your seeds or seedlings. There are guides that tell you what to plant and when according to your climate.

For great gardening advice and community connections why not look online for community garden and city farm networks, or if there isn't one in your area, think about starting your own? Community gardens are great places for learning about local plants, meeting new friends and getting growing tips, as well as sourcing well-tested advice for your home vegie garden.

Your local school can provide another hub for fresh produce with programs like the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation which gives children valuable lifelong skills in how to grow, harvest, prepare and share fresh, seasonal food. These organisations offer opportunities to volunteer, and share your expertise. Last but not least, once you have things growing, don't forget to collect the seeds for planting next time around—you can browse the internet for seed savers networks that can show you how.

New season produce

Fresh strawberries

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It's spring and new season fruits and vegetables like strawberries, artichokes and asparagus are here to tempt our taste buds. In the southern states the warmer weather also signals a return to eating outdoors. It's a great time to focus on getting more fresh food in your diet.

About one third of the carbon we produce comes from food, so it makes sense to think about how your food is transported and produced. Supporting locally grown foods—or growing your own—is a good way to reduce your impact and connect to local producers and growers.

Produce that's in season locally is likely to be cheaper, tastier, and fresher which means more nutrients. Farmers' markets are growing in popularity as the place to buy local, seasonal fresh food, while helping to support specialist produce and sustainable agriculture. They're also a fun place to shop with a variety of artisan-made products like bread, cheeses, home-made preserves as well as vegetable varieties not found elsewhere. Search on the internet to see if there's a farmers' market in your area. Another option for finding local produce is to look for local community gardens that may have excess produce on offer in your area.

Water-smart in the garden

A succulent low water use plant

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Other things to think about before you lift the shovel to plant your own produce are ways to make your garden water smart. Key tips include grouping plants with the same water needs, minimising paved areas to stop soils drying out, and improving soils so they retain moisture. Starting a compost heap from your kitchen waste and layering it with mulch around new plants are fantastic ways to stop water evaporation and keep soil moist and fertile.

Planning ahead will help you save a lot of water over the life of your garden and keep it looking its best, even when you have to spend time away from it. Get advice from your local garden centre and friends and neighbours with green thumbs.

Assess the long-term water needs of your garden and consider whether it's worth installing drip irrigation around your garden beds. If you are considering water saving initiatives in your garden, check if you're eligible to receive any rebates for a rainwater tank, greywater system or garden assessment.

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