<a href="http://gmagazine.com.au/blogs/julie#">Green challenges</a>

Green challenges

Thinking global and acting local, Julie Grundy takes on any challenge we throw at her.

As local as it gets: your own backyard


My own tomatoes

Credit: Julie G

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Last time we talked about how to check labels on your food to find out if it's local to you. But honestly, I get a bit tired of all the fine print sometimes. Once I've found a brand I trust that's in my range, I don't have to look anymore, but it still can take a while to figure out in the first place.

Luckily, I've got a source of totally local food very close to me: my own vegie patch. This summer I've got tomatoes, basil, crookneck squash, cucumbers, capsicum and rockmelons all taking over the back quarter of my little yard. I've also got pumpkins trying to take over the whole place, but that was an accident caused by putting pumpkin scraps in my compost!

I'm also lucky enough to have a neighbour who's a retired market gardener. He's got a fantastic vegie patch at his place: garlic, onions, zucchini, tomatoes (his look nicer than ours, I'll admit), watermelon and so on.

Every now and then when he's got a glut we'll come home to find a pumpkin on the doorstep, or a bag of tomatoes. On top of that, he's got gardening friends, and when they give him too much food he passes it on to us: we got two bags full of delicious sweet peaches a little while ago, we hardly knew what to do with so much fruit!

I'm hoping that our little garden will soon be productive enough to return the favour to him. I really like the little chats we have and it feels so neighbourly to be sharing food this way.

If you're having trouble sourcing local food, why not try growing some of your own? It doesn't have to be hard, a bit of compost, some seedlings in a sunny spot, regular watering and you're good to go.

Tomatoes and capsicums are easy, and so are herbs like basil and parsley and mint. Pick one or two of your favourites and you'll be thrilled with how much better they taste than the store-bought stuff, that's been cold-stored and trucked around the country.

I'd love to hear from you if you've already got your own vegie patch - what's growing well this season? Got any tips for beginners?