My Humble Veggie Patch update

infused water jugBy Kerrie Hill, love what you eat dietitian Maroochydore 

My herbs are thriving & I’m using them in salads, fruit salads, drinks (see previous post) & desserts.

I’ve also had a steady supply of salad leaves & cherry tomatoes to use in my salads each day. My heirloom tomatoes (yellow pear cherry tomato) has started to fruit & I’m patiently waiting for them to ripe (excited about these!!).

My baby eggplant though has not been so kind. I’ve had dozens of flowers but no fruit. Have done some asking around at my local nursery & researching gardening books, internet etc. I’ve tried fertilising with a liquid fertiliser fortnightly, but still no luck. I’m thinking it may be that there are just not enough bees in my garden to pollinate the flowers, so I’ve just planted a few Australian native flowering plants in my backyard to hopefully attract more bees. A fellow gardener had the same problem & had to put a bee hive in his garden, hopefully I won’t have to go quite that far! If you have any advice regarding my eggplants, please let me know!! Until next time, happy gardening x

Photo taken by Kerrie Hill

Ditch the soft drink!

We all know that sugary soft drinks are not great for our health & that water should be our drink of choice. But do you find water bland & a little boring? I know I do at times. Well I’ve recently discovered that water can be appealing AND delicious. It just needs a little help from some beautiful fresh fruit & fragrant fresh herbs. 

I recently tried my hand at making some fruit & herb infused water using some of the herbs from my flourishing herb garden. I must say I was pretty happy with the results!

Some of the delicious combinations that I tried were: 
– Strawberry, lemon & mint (this one is officially my new favourite Spring/Summer drink!)
– Watermelon & basil (yes basil really does work)
– Raspberry & lemon balm (lemon balm is a great herb, so easy to grow & it smells & tastes divine)

You can basically use any fruit or herbs you wish but here are some suggestions: lime, grapefruit, cherries, pineapple, mango, cantaloupe, blood orange, blueberries, kiwi fruit, paw paw, cucumber, ginger, blackberries.

Combine any of the above fruits with the following herbs: mint, coriander, lavender, basil, lemon balm, parsley, thyme, rosemary
To make the infused water it’s as simple as choosing your fruit & herb combo & combining all ingredients in a jug filled with ice & cold water. You can drink it straight away for a subtle flavour, or let the flavours steep in the fridge for a few hours or overnight for a more intense infusion.

So if you’re finding it hard to give up your daily soft drink habit, then I urge you to give this a try. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

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8 GREAT BENEFITS OF GROWING YOUR OWN

By Kerrie Hill, love what you eat Dietitian 

Now that Spring is here, it’s time to dust off my salad spinner cos it’s officially salad season. While I love visiting local green grocers & farmers markets to get the freshest possible produce I can find, I’ve decided to go one better this year & grow my own. I mean what could be better than stepping outside in your backyard to pick salad greens & cherry tomatoes anytime you like.  Absolutely blissful!!

I know what you’re thinking, why go to all that trouble when you can simply walk into the supermarket and buy perfectly good fruit & veg? Well, I’m soooo glad you asked, because I’m dying to share with you some of the amazing benefits to growing your own food.

8 GREAT BENEFITS OF GROWING YOUR OWNWin the little veggie patch book!

1. It’s good for your hip pocket. While you may have a small initial outlay on seeds/soil/pots, in the long run you will save money on your grocery bill.

2. Taste. Who could argue that home grown food tastes so much better than store bought? Remember what tomatoes used to taste like from your grandmother’s garden

3. Improve your health. You’ll end up eating more fruit/veg as well as greater variety of the freshest produce. Home grown food will also generally contain less pesticides

4. Home grown food is more nutritious. When fruit & veg are left to ripen on the plant they retain more of their nutrients than those that are picked early and forced to ripen during storage/transportation.

4. Cheap & easy way to get some exercise in the great outdoors.

5. Good for the mind & soul.  Some people describe gardening as therapeutic or meditative as it helps them de-stress from life or work. Being involved in Community gardens also helps people feel more socially connected.

6. Great way to help your kids understand where food comes from & at the same time spend quality time with them away from TV/computer/social media!! Getting kids involved in the growing process can also help encourage their interest in fruit & veg (which is a sneaky way of getting them to eat more veg too). Why not involve them with watering the garden or asking them which fruit/veg they’d like to grow

7. Provides a sense of accomplishment & pride as you watch your little babies grow from tiny seeds/seedlings to abundant ‘fruit’ bearing plants

8. Zero food miles. Home gardeners can play their part in helping to reduce the environmental impacts of transporting & distributing food to supermarkets.

If you’re think that you don’t have much space to grown anything, well think again. Your veg plot can be as large as a house block or as small as a couple of jars on your window sill filled with herbs. Whatever tickles your fancy. Or find out if your suburb has a community garden where you can tend your very own plot. Check out http://communitygarden.org.au/acfcgn-directory/.

And you don’t need to have a green thumb! I’m a prime example of that!! I started out small last season with just a few pots of my favourite herbs, but I’m really getting my hands dirty this year by growing some fruit & veg as well.

I’m growing everything in pots, due to my cheeky Cocker Spaniel who has a penchant for digging up & devouring anything that’s remotely edible. My array of plantings this year include: limes, baby eggplant, cherry & heirloom tomatoes, cos lettuce, endive, radicchio (my salads will look so pretty!), sweet & thai basil, Vietnamese mint, garlic chives, coriander & lemon balm.

I’ll keep you posted with the progress in my garden over the coming months as well as some of the delicious recipes that I would love to share.

I also want to invite you all to take part in our Grow Your Own hashtag challenge on Instagram, where by simply posting a photo of your ‘veggie patch’ (doesn’t matter how small or big) you could win 2 brilliant books, ‘River Cottage Veg Everyday’ & The Little Vegie Patch & Co’s book, “How To Grow Food in Small Spaces”. The prize will go to the most creative photo. All you have to do is tag your photo with the hashtag #showusyourgreenthumb

So go on, what’s stopping you? Get growing!

Win the river cottage veg recipe book!

 

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