How to make it your hobby, save money and/or enjoy fresh food

Australians are returning to their roots — literally — cultivating backyard vegetables to squeeze every cent out of their food budgets.

As the pandemic continues, hardware stores and nurseries across Australia are reporting a boom in the number of home gardeners since last year, with customers tackling everything from growing their own herbs and vegetables to updating their landscape.

Garden centres are also reporting skyrocketing vegetable plant and seed sales.

Popular seedlings include lettuce, radishes, silverbeet, strawberries and herbs, says Bunnings national greenlife buyer Alex Newman.

“Creating a veggie patch was hugely popular last year with people spending more time at home and we’re seeing the ‘grow your own’ trend continue this year,” he said.

“Home gardeners who built veggie patches last year continue to cycle and plant next season’s crop, having enjoyed the rewards of their homegrown produce.”

A new 2021 trend report by Plant Life Balance highlights that eight in 10 Australians will continue to grow produce at home this year.

According to the survey, the top three reasons people want to grow their own food is to enjoy it as a hobby, save money and enjoy the freshest food possible.

“The flavour and freshness of homegrown produce has to be the best reason to grow your own — and the ability to do a quick run to the patch for dinner ingredients,” horticulturalist Chloe Thomson said.

“Convenience is also a driving factor. No need to leave home to pick up some lettuce or herbs.”

Families who have been using lockdown to weed, mow and seed have found it both relaxing and energising — which makes for a better mood, longer concentration and more productivity.

Being outdoors can also lower stress, while growing your own eases concerns over food security by saving money and increasing healthy eating.

Celebrity gardener Sophie Thomson said now is an ideal time to create a veggie patch from scratch.

“Start small, plan big and know what you want to achieve,” she said.

“Being able to grow at least some of your vegetables, herbs and fruits teaches children where their food comes from and studies show kids are more likely to eat veggies if they were involved in growing them. It also gives them a sense of food security.”

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