If you want something tiny, nutritious and delicious, try micro greens. Long revered by chefs for their subtle flavours and delicate textures, they are very easy to grow and will add some extra street cred to any kitchen. Because plants are not grown to full maturity, we don’t have to worry about a lot of common challenges like spacing, light, pests and disease. Instead, growing is an all-out sprint with a high-density of seeds placed in a tray and watered daily. Only a little bit of light is necessary, which makes these a popular option for people who want to grow indoors.
Lettuce is the Golden Retriever of the vegetable world: simple, loyal and easy to satisfy. Throw any season at a lettuce and you’re bound to get some produce in return. It seems to thrive best in early autumn and spring conditions, but like your Retriever, will be happy with most seasons. Lettuces are not especially hungry for nutrients, but do require a steady supply of nitrogen.
There is no more important fruit anywhere in the world, so despite the challenging nature of the tomato, anyone who’s anyone will rush out and plant one in spring. All styles differ, whether that’s the variety you choose (cherry, staking, bush), the infrastructure or maintenance. There are so many variables you won’t find the same two set-ups anywhere.
The ultimate confidence booster, the radish is the perfect introduction to gardening newbies or those who haven’t yet mastered the art. It’s a small space specialist that gives almost instant gratification. And speaking from the perspective of a generation that is often defined by our short attention spans and love for instant gratification, the radish may just be our champion.
The spring onion is a bunching variety that is hardy, fast growing and ideally suited to the home gardener. If you find yourself looking for a confidence booster in the vegie patch, the spring onion is always happy to partner up, whether in spring, or any time of the year in our parts. In fact, despite its name, the spring onion could easily be the autumn, winter and summer onion, too.
Nothing breaks our heart more than having to buy herbs from the supermarket. They are so easy to grow and most will produce year-round. Paying $4 for a sprig of rosemary that lasts you one roast would be much better spent at the nursery, which will satisfy your rosemary needs for life. Not only will planting herbs reduce unwanted trips to the supermarket, they will also provide a range of scents and colours when in flower that attract beneficial insects into the patch. If you build a mini ecosystem of plants and insects, the vegie patch will operate at greater efficiency.
SILVERBEET (SWISS CHARD)
Silverbeet is a robust and diplomatic leafy green that is decisively neutral to the seasons. It can be planted all year round, provided the environment isn’t extremely hot or cold, so it’s a ready tenant whenever new garden real estate becomes available. For us however, we like to use all our available space for summer vegies during the hot months, so silverbeet has become a de facto winter crop. A single plant should steadily produce for 12 months or more. It’s so safe and reliable…so Swiss.
Planting a dwarf citrus tree is all about knowing your limits. With space at a premium, these smaller trees are made for small space gardening, but they also produce a more manageable yield of fruit, which doesn’t end up fermenting on the ground of hot concrete laneways. It also means that rather than limiting yourself to one large tree and a lot of the same fruit, you can diversify your tree stock and the fruit they grow.
There are few tastier times in the patch than when peas are in season and those sweet, crunchy snacks litter the foliage. Their bounty aside, peas also provide benefit to the garden as a whole, injecting the soil with nitrogen as they grow. The difference between a tiny bite-size pod or a proper mouthful is about two weeks and a lot of willpower.
Strawberries are a great small space variety and prime candidate for growing in a pot or wall garden unit. Although we are all very familiar with the summer-bearing supermarket strawberry, few people realise that there are hundreds of weird and wonderful varieties that you can grow yourself. There are red, white, blue, black, green and even purple strawberries. Consider the pineberry: a white strawberry with red seeds and a pineapple-like taste.
List adapted from Grow.Food.Anywhere by the Little Veggie Patch Co (Hardie Grant 2017) with permission from the authors.