Unless you have your head in the sand/soil, you would have a sense that life as we know it is changing rapidly and we need to respond, to secure our food security and health. Grow extra food for yourself and to share with your neighbours, community or to use to barter.

Growing nutrient dense organic food has always been a priority for me and I have spoken, written, and taught about it for years. Here I will give you a guide (part 1) on what I believe you need to get growing now to maximize food in your backyard or neighbourhood. I particularly select plants that are easy to grow and abundant. More information is always available in my book Eat Your Garden – Organic Gardening for Home and Schools available from https://leonieshanahan.com.au/shop/

As I live in subtropics, the plant list relates mainly to here and tropical.

Let’s start in the VEGETABLE PATCH.

SPINACH – Aibika, Brazillian, Okinawa, Sambung, Warrigul greens (NZ spinach), Kang kong, Ethopian Cabbage

BEANS – Madagascar: Snake (many varieties): Wing

STARCHES – Cassava, Cocoyam, Elephant Foot ‘greater’, Qld Canna edulis (arrowroot), Sweet potato

Others:  Aloe Vera Barbadensis (also medical plants -burns, bites etc), Amaranth, Choko, Comfrey, Herb Robert, Lebanese cress, Lemongrass, Luffa, Nasturtiums, Taro, Timor lettuce, Pumpkins (coz you can grow so many of them and store).

TUBERS – Ginger, Turmeric, Galangal, Garlic

SMALL TREE/SHRUBMoringa, Sweet leaf. I also like Banana plants for its multi uses besides the fruit – leaves for cooking and wrapping and the cut trunks can be grown into or used as edging etc.

WEEDS – know your weeds (misunderstood plants) as they have so many nutrients. You also need to educate yourself as to what parts are edible and whether eaten raw or cooked. Before harvesting, make sure plants (weeds) are coming from a clean environment, with no previous chemical sprays. Cat’s Ear, Chickweed & Tropical Chickweed, Clover – white, Cobbler’s pegs, Dandelion, Dock, Fat Hen, Gotu Kola, Mallow, Nodding Top, Plantain (Broadleaf and Narrow leaf), Purslane and Sow Thistle.

There is a huge range of familiar seasonal annual salads, vegetables, flowers, and herbs you can plant as well. Check your local planting guide, markets, and plant nursery.

Growing your own food full of nutrients in your backyard grows your health and peace of mind, and especially some food security. Remember to save seeds from your produce to share and sow.

To learn more, watch instructional DVD Edible School Gardens (for all ages) to learn all organic gardening processes or, as mentioned, comprehensive organic gardening book Eat Your Garden available from www.LeonieShanahan.com.au

Please email me with your own suggestions and favourites. Part 2 will include herbs, flowers and fruit trees and any other ideas.

[email protected]

Happy Healthy Gardening, Leonie