sedlingscosNothing beats eating fresh veggies picked from your own garden.

They taste better, are better for you (the fresher veggies are, the more nutrients they contain) and there’s a real sense of satisfaction in eating something you’ve grown yourself.

The Byron Shire’s mild climate makes autumn and winter an excellent time for growing veggies. The wiltingly hot days of summer are over, but there’s still plenty of sunshine, and less threat of pests and diseases.

Before you plant, make sure your garden soil is prepped – dig in some compost and well rotted manure a few weeks before planting to enrich the soil and improve its structure so it can better retain nutrients and moisture.

When your garden is ready, you get to the fun part – choosing what to plant.

Crops to plant now include carrots, peas (snow peas and sugar snaps are easy and delicious), broccoli, bok choy, kale, lettuce. rocket, silverbeet, tomatoes and celery.

Local seeds and seedlings are the best choice as they are well adapted to local conditions.

The New Brighton Farmers’ market’s seedling  suppliers, One Organic, sell locally raised, organic heirloom seedlings. All are grown outdoors in natural conditions in a home made organic seed raising mix (in contrast to some mass-produced seedlings, which can be pushed with artificial fertilisers and lights), which makes for more robust seedlings that are more likely to thrive and resist disease.

Once you have them home, plant your seedlings late in the afternoon and water them in well to give them a chance to adjust to their new environment.

Water regularly and feed the soil to keep it healthy and alive. One Organic has a great home made great plant food called EM’s or Effective Microorganisms, described as ‘probiotics for the soil’. It’s designed to encourage the growth of the soil microorganisms that are so important to plant and soil health.

One Organic also have natural pest controls such as Neem oil and can give you plenty of growing tips.

Keep the weeds down, and the supply of water and food up, and you’ll be reaping the rewards in no time.