KATHRYN CHANDLER

My Mantra
To educate, inspire and encourage woman to be the best version of themselves possible and support them on their own personal journey to wellness…

HOW TO GROW YOUR OWN ORGANIC VEGGIES, HERBS & FRUIT

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow” – Audrey Hepburn

Hey Gorgeous Goddess,

If you follow me on social media you will know that I LOVE spending time outdoors in our garden. Growing our own organic veggies and herbs brings me so much joy and today I want to teach YOU how to start your very own veggie garden! It’s a fun project that is easy to do if you follow my simple steps and I can promise that it is so rewarding.

Why Growing Your Own Food Is So Important:

One of the main benefits of growing your own food is that you know exactly what kind of soil your plants have grown in and what has been sprayed or preferrable not sprayed onto them!

Unfortunately, most of the produce that is available in supermarkets have been sprayed with chemicals and pesticides. These toxins are then absorbed into our body when we consume them and can wreak havoc on our health. GMO foods (Genetically Modified Organisms) are becoming more prevalent on the shelves too. It goes without saying, I highly recommend that you try your best to avoid consuming sprayed produce and GMO foods!

When you grow your own food, YOU take back the control of what goes onto your food and into your body. Shopping at your local, organic farmers market is great for reducing your risk of buying produce that is laden with chemicals, however if you can rather grow your own then I highly recommend that you do. I love supporting local farmers however it can be a costly option to pick up some organic produce from the markets. I remember paying $15 for a single red dragon fruit once at a market! If you have a family like I do, grocery shopping with this kind of price tag is most likely just not going to be feasible. Plus, there are a few other benefits of growing your own food. When we grow our own food, it encourages us to get outside, get our hands dirty and soak up some delicious vitamin D while we are at it. It is a beautiful way to connect with the earth and absorb some of that beautiful, beneficial bacteria from the soil too!

You Can Take The Girl Out Of The Country, But You Can’t Take The Country Out Of The Girl…

I come from a long line of farmers; in fact, my Dad is a third-generation farmer! I like to think that it’s in my blood and that I naturally have a “green thumb” as they say, but Patrick likes to tease me and tell me otherwise. Although Pat and I have lived in town since we got together, back in 2015, we have always found a way to grow a few herbs or veggies of our own. One of my big life dreams is to own a home one day with a backyard big enough to have a fully self-sustainable veggie garden… and a native beehive! As a teenager I hated the thought of having anything to do with farming, and I was determined NOT to become a farmer like the generations before me. All I wanted was to be a professional ballet dancer and live in the big smoke… which I did for quite a few years, until I realised that living off the land is totally the way to go! Maybe there is a little farmer inside me after all.

How To Start Your Own Veggie Garden:

Your living environment will pretty much determine what kind of garden set-up you will be able to have, all depending on how much space is available to you. If you live in a small flat with no outside area at all, growing a few herbs on your kitchen benchtop may be the only option for you, if you have a small backyard, a few large pots or raised garden boxes can work nicely. If you have a large backyard, you may want to put in a nice and big, in-ground, veggie patch, like the one my parents have on their farm.

You Will Need:

  • Base: Either a few small or large pots with drainage or a couple of raised garden boxes
  • Medium sized rocks or pebbles
  • Potting mix (make sure to buy certified organic)
  • Compost (read more on this in my article “Composting 101”)
  • Either dried seeds or seedlings (baby plants)
  • Watering can or plant mister spray bottle (please choose metal rather than plastic)

 

Step 1: If you are using a pot or garden box, make sure that it has sufficient holes at the bottom for drainage. The holes should be big enough that you can fit a pencil though them and spaced out evenly across the base area.

Step 2: Fill the base with a thin layer of small rocks or pebbles. This will allow the excess water to filter out without losing too much of the soil.

Step 3: Mix the potting soil and compost together until it is well combined. I like to use a ratio of 1:1. Then fill your pot or garden box ¾ full with this nutrient rich soil. Your plant babies are going to love their new home!

Step 4: If your planting dried seeds, you can either plant them in rows or spread them evenly around, then cover with a few centimetres of the soil mix. If you are planting seedlings, dig out a hole slightly bigger than the container they are currently in and fill with water. Once the water has absorbed into the soil, carefully remove the seedling from its current container, trying not to disturb the roots too much and gently place into the hole. Push the soil in around it so that it is nice and snug. Repeat for each seedling and then add a little extra soil around the base of each little plant.

Step 5: Gently water or mist-spray your plant babies until the soil is well hydrated.

Step 6: Wait patiently! Depending on what you have planted and when, it may take a few weeks before you’re seeds sprout, or before you see noticeable growth from your seedlings.

Tips: Position your plants so that they can soak up either the morning or afternoon sun but are in the shade by mid-day, to avoid the extreme heat. The seasons will determine how frequently you will need to water your plants. Generally, I only water over the hot, summer months and do so once or twice a day. If watering, make sure to do so either early in the morning or in the late afternoon. If you water right at the hottest part of the day the sun will heat the additional water and essentially steam-cook your poor little plants!

Top Tip: Instead of buying expensive seeds at your local garden store, start collecting your own! Every time I eat a vegetable or fruit with a seed/s inside I put the seeds on a piece of paper towel and allow them to dry out. It usually only takes a couple of days before they are ready for my next day in the garden when I can plant them.

Get The Kids Involved!

This is something that I am soooooo passionate about!!! The idea of growing your own food almost became a lost art but it is making a comeback and the humble veggie patch is finding itself once again in the everyday persons backyard. I want to empower the next generation with the knowledge and skills to be self-sufficient and grow their own organic produce. It is never too early or too late to start gaining this knowledge and skills and passing it on. Gabe and Josie have joined me in the garden since they were babies. I have photos of Gabe in his baby rocker and Josie in her portable cot as newborns, sitting right next to me in the garden, while I worked away in our veggie patch. As they grew, they naturally became interested and keen to help me with my garden projects and now I think they get just as excited as I do, watching our plant babies grow. Every morning we check on their growth and I love seeing the excitement in their eyes when they notice the changes. These are the experiences and life lessons I think are important to give to our kids from a young age! What do you think?

What To Plant:

Here are a few ideas of what to plant in your garden and which plants make for good “friends” to plant them near (this is called companion planting). 

Veggies

  • Lettuce, plant with carrots or strawberries
  • Baby Spinach, plant with lettuce or peas
  • Carrots, plant with lettuce or rosemary
  • Capsicum, plant with carrots or tomatoes
  • Tomatoes, plant with basil

 

Herbs

  • Mint, plant near tomatoes or cabbages
  • Parsley, plant with asparagus
  • Basil, plant with tomatoes
  • Rosemary, plant with beans or carrots
  • Stevia, plant with basil

 

Fruit

  • Strawberries, plant with lettuce
  • Lemons/Limes, plant with peas

 

Note:  Make sure to do your research and find out which season is best to plant them in, for your area!

Celebrate The Fruits Of Your Labour:

After a few weeks the many hours you have invested into your garden, tending lovingly to your plant-babies, weeding and watering have paid off! Now it’s time for the harvest. Depending on what you have grown you could create a delicious, fresh garden salad or make some cold-pressed juice with your very own home-grown, spray-free produce. This is so rewarding and yes, you have full permission to feel as proud as punch! If you have a prolific garden why not share the goods around with your family, friends or even work colleagues!

Want To Do Some Hands On Learning?

I highly recommend paying the guys from Shambhala Farm in Doonan on the Sunshine Coast a visit. They have a 12-week Food Growing Course where you can learn their step by step system to grow your own organic food garden. I haven’t personally done the course as I learned everything I know about growing veggies from my Mom and Dad, however if you don’t come from a farming family, the team at Shambhala Farm know there stuff and will definitely be able to pass on their knowledge!

So darling, I hope this has inspired you to start growing your very own, organic veggies, herbs, and fruits in your own backyard! If it has, I want to encourage you to share this article with your besties right now! My mission is to spread the message of true health and wellness to as many like-minded women as possible, so that they too can live their best lives. I am so grateful for your support and help in sharing my life’s work.

Love Kat Xx

P.s – I’d love to see you in your garden!!! Take a pic and tag me on Instagram in your post @kathryn.chandler 😊