The Secret Gardener

posted on: Wednesday, 2 October 2013


Beetroot, and their leaves are great in a salad

More tomatoes than you can possibly eat

My daily mulberry haul, straight from the tree

A few years back, I took over my grandparents garden after they were no longer able to look after it. I was given a massive headstart in developing my green thumb because for over 50 years, Nancy and Burt had built up the quality of soil that any hipster, organic urban farmer would kill for when starting out.

I planted mulberries, lemon, limes, oregano, coriander, beetroot and spring onions and every one of them flourished without too much effort on my part. When it rained, even things I hadn't planted started to grow: sweet potato, hundreds of truss tomatoes, rockmelon on a vine, a paw paw tree. The lemongrass that started as wisps not 10cm high, grew over two metres high, almost matching the gigantic sunflowers which had literally thousands of seeds in their huge faces.

But I must admit, with all this good fortune, I've gotten a little lazy and after almost four months overseas, it's time for the secret gardener to get back out there and put in a little elbow grease. First up on the agenda are herbs which have all gone to seed, except for the unassailable mint. While this seems pretty basic, of all the things I've grown these have been the best value: they make any meal taste better, Vietnamese cooking proves that, but the cost of buying herbs at the supermarket vs buying the same plant is almost identical. And what I like best is that you can choose exactly how much you use, rather than the pre-packaged amounts that inevitably go off in the fridge. 

Next on my list is learning how to grow a whole system of food and my favourite flowers at a permaculture course, or hippie camp, as one of my friends calls it! Can't wait!


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