Want to Grow Your Own Vegetables? What You Need to Know

3 pink radish bulbs pulled out of the soil

With the rising cost of living, more people are open to the idea of growing their own food. Growing your own vegetables and fruit is a fantastic way to save money on your grocery bills and teach children about where their food comes from, while getting you outside into the garden, which has been proven to boost mood and improve mental wellbeing [1].

While you may not have the time, space, or expertise to become a fully-fledged farmer, growing a few simple foods can help prioritise healthy eating, while exposing you to new fruits and vegetables you may not have tried before. To make your veggie patch a success, there are some important things to consider before you get started:

Know what veggies will grow in your region

Queensland is a vast state with warm temperatures and different climate zones – tropical, sub-tropical and arid. Different areas will support different crops and different growing seasons. For example, silverbeet and rainbow chard will grow year-round in subtropical climates, but only between March and October in tropical and arid climates. Whereas basil is the opposite – thriving year-round in tropical climates but growing mainly between August and February in other areas.

Ask experts within your local community for advice on what to grow. For example, speak to a gardener at your local gardening store, join a local Facebook Community Group of gardening enthusiasts, or talk to your neighbours who might already be growing their own food.

Consider a plant’s basic needs

For fruit and vegetables to thrive, most need at least 6 hours of sunlight per day, healthy soil, and adequate water. Think about the layout of your backyard and the best areas to plant fruit and veg, and invest in good quality soil and compost to give your plants the best chance of success.

If you only have a small space, consider building simple trellises, climbing supports, and arches to grow climbing plants, such as passionfruit, beans, climbing spinach, etc.

If you live in a unit or apartment and don’t have a backyard, you can still try your hand at growing herbs, chillis, and sprouts in pots or in a portable garden bed. 

Prioritise easy-to-grow plants

Keep it simple to get started. Opt for low-maintenance plants that won’t take too long to grow and produce food. Try cherry tomatoes, radishes, European herbs, purple king beans and cucamelons. Again, a local expert can make some good suggestions.

Include a mix of perennial crops (plants that live beyond one growing season) in your growing plan, like herbs, asparagus, rhubarb, chives, watercress, Malabar climbing spinach or Brazilian spinach. These will continue to produce food each year, so you’ll always have something to eat from the garden.

Balance this out with annual crops to keep your garden diverse and interesting, such as beans, peppers, potatoes and tomatoes, which complete their life cycles in a single growing season.

Close up of cherry tomatoes growing on a vine

If you have your heart set on growing fruit trees, keep in mind that these can take 4-5 years to establish before producing fruit. Citrus fruit especially requires extra attention, as they are prone to pests. Limes and grapefruit are the easier varieties to grow within the citrus family.

Some good low-maintenance options for your orchard include cherry guava, bananas, pomegranates, passionfruit vines, and tree tomatoes.

Use plant groundcovers as ‘living mulch’

Instead of buying mulch every few months, you can plant edible ground covers to suppress weeds, reduce evaporation, and protect the soil. Depending on your location in Queensland, examples might include strawberries, prostrate rosemary, native violets, oregano, lemongrass, and Brazilian spinach.

Young girl dressed in denim overalls picks strawberries off a  strawberry plant and collects them in a little punnet basket

Be prepared for harvest time

Be prepared for glut during the harvesting season. Plan some veggie-based recipes that can be adapted easily depending on your harvest. For example, a roasted vegetable frittata, savoury muffins or vegetable paella. Homemade soups are another great option to use up excess vegetables, which can be frozen and eaten months later.

You can further reduce food waste by pickling vegetables or making salsas, pesto, or chutneys. If bottled correctly using sterilized jars, these will last for several months or even years, and make for terrific homemade gifts!  

Woman picks lettuce leaves from her backyard garden and puts them on a plate

Check out our blog for more ideas on how to make the most of your veggies.


[1] Ainamani, H., Gumisiriza, N., Bamwerinde, W., and Rukundo, G. (2022). Gardening activity and its relationship to mental health: Understudied and untapped in low-and middle-income countries. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9389296/ Accessed 9 April 2024.

Heart Foundation (2024). Pickled vegetables. https://www.heartfoundation.org.nz/wellbeing/healthy-recipes/pickled-vegetables . Accessed 12 April 2024.

Wiley, D. (2023). Plant These 7 Perennial Vegetables to Get a Harvest Each Year. https://www.bhg.com/gardening/vegetable/vegetables/perennial-vegetable-garden-plants/ . Accessed 9 April 2024.


Content developed with the help of Keith Gilbert from Bundaberg Fruit and Veg Growers Ltd, who is the North Coast Regional Coordinator for Health and Wellbeing Queensland’s Pick of the Crop school initiative, which supports Queensland primary schools to provide opportunities for students to learn about and eat more veggies and fruit. Visit our Pick of the Crop page to find out more.