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Summer

Kitchen gardens

Planting a vegetable garden and growing culinary herbs are great ways to help cut grocery bills and reduce food waste and might even help with burning off those post-Christmas calories while you're digging, planting, weeding, and harvesting. And they taste great!

Fresh vegetables in a cane basket

©iStockphoto.com

When you grow your own produce you can pick your food at its peak of ripeness when the flavours and nutrients are at their best. Have you ever tasted a tomato straight off the vine? Even if you don't have much space, it's possible to grow almost any vegetable in pots, such as dwarf beetroot and carrots. Herbs are tolerant of many growing conditions and you can grow them in pots in the smallest of apartments. They'll add a refreshing kick to your cooking.

It can be really gratifying to know that you've sown a seed and cared for it while it grows. You can also give children a hands-on experience of where food comes from — and they'll love running out to the yard to hunt and harvest their own dinner.

By growing your own produce you also know exactly what goes into your food. You can minimise the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides which are pollutants that can get washed or blown into stormwater drains and local waterways. Keep in mind that pesticides don't discriminate between good insects and bad pests. Try out some organic pest remedies instead, like placing saucers of beer near plants that are susceptible to snail attack—snails are attracted to the smell of beer. Boiling water will kill weeds if you pour it directly onto them but take care to avoid your plants. This method is especially good for weeds in paving cracks. Vinegar will kill couch grass. Once you've identified which pests you need to control, you can surf the internet for many more organic remedies to make at home.

Work out what grows best in your local climate zone and check out gardening websites to help get you started and work out a summer timetable.

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