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Start a waterwise food garden this school holidays

The school holidays are the perfect time to get the family out in the garden. Little hands love to get dirty and growing veggies can be a great way to encourage eating them!

Growing food doesn’t have to take a lot of space or be difficult. Use these tips to get you started:

  • Pick a spot that gets lots of winter sun but not too much summer sun. If you can’t find the perfect spot or only have a small yard or patio, you can grow food in pots and containers.
  • Choose your containers. Food can be grown in almost any container with a minimum soil depth of 20 centimetres (pots, crates, boxes, old boots, wheelbarrows or pallets). Avoid containers made from materials that will absorb water like timber or limestone.
  • Improve your soil. Perth soil is often sandy and lacking in organic matter. The best remedy is to add clay, compost, worm castings or animal manures to your soil. Your improved soil will retain moisture and be full of microbes that will help your plants grow strong and healthy.
  • Mulch. A five to ten centimetre layer of mulch will reduce water loss through evaporation, discourage weeds and reduce the stress on your plants.
  • Plan your crops so that you are able to eat what you harvest. Planting from seed is a budget friendly strategy that will also mean you have control over the timing of your harvest. Beans, cherry tomatoes, spring onions, basil and chilies are great crops for beginners.
  • Plant a variety of herbs and flowering plants to attract beneficial insects which will reduce pest insects from damaging your crops.
  • Hand watering can be the most efficient method for your home food garden. If you are considering an irrigation system choose sub-surface irrigation or integrated dripper to deliver water directly to the roots of your plants with no evaporative water loss. Water in the morning to reduce evaporation and to give your plants moisture to draw on through the day. Or try your hand at making an upcycled water wise wicking bed.