How did you first get involved with gardening and growing food? Was there a pivotal experience or moment?
As a young farm kid, I have these glorious memories of sowing seeds –beans in all wonder - with my Dad. The care and attention to something small that then grew like a fairy tale. The wonder of gardening has always stuck with me I was lucky to grow up in a family of farmers and country gardeners – it is in the blood but it also gave me the confidence just to have a go.
What would you say to someone who is thinking about taking up growing?
Give it a crack! It is ok if it doesn’t go exactly to plan. It doesn’t always. Gardening is a skill we all hone with practice. But the pure pleasure of working with nature and the seasons – growing delicious vegetables and herbs and enjoying the beauty and satisfaction of flowers and the bees they bring – it is a soulful reward of itself.
What’s growing on in your patch right now?
So much! Five Coloured Silverbeet – one of Diggers most well received heirloom introductions. My favourite Brassicas - Romanesco and Spigrello (Broccoli leaf), beautiful Radicchios in ruby reds and flecked (Castlefranco). Crimson Flowered Broad Beans, Peas, Fennel, Beetroot, Spring onions, Rhubarb, sweet Asparagus, Dill, Coriander and a range of Herbs, Asian Greens (Sea Buckthorn, Pak Choy), Landcress, Cabbages etc and favourite spring flowers – a wall of Sweet peas and poppies and edible hardy annual flowers – Nasturtium and Calendula.
What is your favourite veg to grow and why?
Eggplants. The beauty queen of all vegetables. Deep purple aubergine tones just like a still life. Harder to master a good harvest in cooler climates but my most favourite to eat or marinate and preserve.
Do you have a favourite native / indigenous foods you like to grow?
Finger limes are hard to resist but also experimenting with Appleberry, De Koch saltbush and Strawberry Gum.
Top 3 favourite veg to cook with? Any tips on using the whole vegetable to reduce food waste?
Fennel – such a multi-dimensional vegetable. Roast the bulb or slice it raw into salads. Stems into stock or part of any base with carrot and onion. Aromatic fronds into salads or pickles.
Radicchios – the inner leaves are so darn beautiful. The outer are a little bitter but can still be utilised and balanced with other green leaves from the garden.
Spring Onions – so versatile, sweet and easy to grow. To salads or stir-fries, an easy one to start with if you don’t have the space or time for larger onions.
Whose patch would you most like to checkout and why?
Palisa Anderson’s farm – amazing varieties and passion for soil ecology. What is not to love!
Top 3 favourite songs to garden too?
I confess I am an RN podcaster – a Richard Fidler podcast and a potter in the garden – perfection!
Do you compost and if so why?
Yes!!! A natural cycle of kitchen and gardens scraps into an amazing resource. It just makes so much sense to cycle things back into the patch.
A favourite recipe you love?
Whole roast Cauliflower or Romanesco with a garlic yoghurt sauce with fresh herbs and toasted nuts. Simple and happy celebration of the vegetable.
How to Grow: Potatoes
How to grow giant vegetables at home Q&A with Kevin Fortey (Giant Veg UK)
Q&A with Paul West
Grow It Local 2020 Awards