Spring is the perfect time to get started on your baby food garden.
A baby food garden is a fancy name for something your great grandparents probably did – feeding their baby or child with veggies grown in the backyard.
Pre-made baby food from the supermarket can be convenient, but it can also be expensive, contains preservatives, and all those pouches and jars contribute to landfill. In contrast, veggies grown in the backyard cost next to nothing, are fresh and full of nutrients, and any scraps can be returned to the compost heap or chooks.
Having a home veggie patch can also be an educational experience for your child, showing them where food comes from and introducing them to a range of vegetable from an early age.
If you don’t know where to start or consider yourself a bit of a black thumb, plant expert and founder of Beyond Sunflowers, Gisele Zanier, has shared her top tips on why and what you need to be growing in your baby food garden.
Where to plant
Find a place outside that gets a minimum of 5-6 hours of sunlight a day. Make sure your soil is high in organic matter or well fertilised, plant all your seeds with enough room between each – what type of veggie you are planting will determine how much room is needed. Remember to water, weed and harvest your veggies when ready. Don’t worry if your first go isn’t a hit, the more you grow the better you get and this will also give you the opportunity to better know your space and microclimate which is an important factor when selecting your seeds and seedlings.
Pick your produce
While there is such a large portion of different types of vegetables to grow, there are a few that stand out and taste great. Pick plants that grow mass amounts so you can be always picking and cooking, as bubba always needs to eat! Stick to plants like tomato bushes and sweet potato that grow mass amounts.
Growing lots of green produce is a must. Zucchini is full of potassium, great for the heart, and strengthens bones and teeth. Zucchini is great because with its light flavour you can add in into most meals to bulk it up. Another great vegetable to grow is peas – great for kids as they are easy to mash up and are full of antioxidants, minerals and vitamins. These babies are also really simple and don’t take a rocket scientist to grow. Another superfood is baby spinach, which is full of iron, vitamin c and fibre. Baby spinach is great to add to meals and even juices and smoothies.
Add some colour
You can teach babies to enjoy their vegetables from a young age. A great way if implementing different food groups is by adding a variety of colours to capture their eyes. Let’s start with beetroot. Not only does its rich colour entice children but the health benefits speak for itself. Beetroot is full of fibre, vitamin c and is a rich source of folate and manganese. Another veggie you cannot go past is sweet potato, as its popular with children and you can spread it far. Sweet potato also tastes great on its own without adding any extra sugars and is full of vitamins, fibre and inflammation properties.
Make it crunchy
Let’s not skip crunchy snacks! You cannot pass on carrots – these bright sweet snacks are great cut up for the children with teeth and are great pureed for babies. Full of vitamins, iron and potassium, this delicious veggie is great raw or cooked. Another superfood is tomatoes. These beautiful rich and delicious little balls of heaven are a must for kids. For the sweet babies, a strawberry bush will be your best friend. Great whole, cut up or pureed, this is an easy on the go snack. Strawberries are full of vitamins and are known for their infection fighting properties.