I’ve never had a green thumb. Actually the opposite. I am widely known in my local community for killing lovely green growing things with casual disregard. There may or may not be a wanted sign up at Kings Plant Barn for me. I’ve even killed a cactus, and those bloody things only need to be watered once in forever. However, I seem to succeed in vegetable and herb gardens. Maybe because I give all my veggie babies names, so I feel personally affected when one shrivels up and dies. The natural occurrence of rain also helps. Or perhaps, because there is a reward of ALL THE VEGGIES AND HERBS when you are nice to them.
Please meet ratatouille and eggie…
…and little cucie, baby cucie and crispy.
There is nothing more satisfying than running out to the garden and grabbing a handful of this or that while you’re doing your cooking. At the moment we have a lemon, lime and mandarin tree on our backyard, and it’s pretty convenient grabbing a lemon whenever you need it. Our lime tree is just there to toy with me. It mocks me. It starts fruiting, and one day will have 20 little limes on it, only for them all to fall off the next day. One day it will flourish. And on that day, I will set up a little roadside lime stand, and become a millionaire!
In my veggie garden we grow tomatoes, chili peppers, eggplants, capsicum, cucumbers, spring onion and a million different types of salads. We did the maths on how much salad we eat, and during summer we would eat about $10-$15 worth a veggies a DAY from our garden. So not only is it special because it’s my veggies, but I’m also saving tons of money. These were almost all the cheapy starter plants from Kings, except for the tomato plants which I would recommend spending a little bit more money on to get one of the super fruit growing grafted varieties. Honestly, we had tomatoes coming out of our everythings.
What I really really love though, is my herb garden. Herbs are hearty little things and they don’t need the love that a tomato plant does for instance with all the watering and staking and more watering. When we went travelling for four months, apart from rain, my rosemary and oregano didn’t see much (any) tending to and they were both flourishing when I came home. My sage, mint and thyme looked a little worse for wear but also still survived. My pièce de résistance, the giant basil plant needed some good ol’ TLC and sweet melodies sung to it for about 3 weeks afterwards before it decided to come back to tasty life. My parsley and coriander went to herb heaven. You need to look after those ones, I guess.
Having access to so many fresh veggies and herbs just makes food so much tastier. Here are a few of my garden hacks:
– Grow chili peppers, and when they start to produce, throw them in the freezer and snap freeze them. They will last forever and are also easier to cut or only use a small amount of when frozen.
– Tomato salads all the time. We ate this wonderful heirloom tomato, olive oil and rock salt dish in San Sebastian that made me realize that tomatoes are a champion on their own. You don’t need much to bulk up a yummy fresh tomato, however a good buffalo mozzarella or burrata is pretty delish and if you have fresh basil – bam.
– If you pull the tips off your basil when it starts to flower, you will keep it looking nicer and keep the leaves less thick and bitter for a longer period of time.
– Grow Your Own Mint = Grow Your Own Mojitos. No more explanation necessary.
– When all the herbs start to flower and are almost ready to toss, pull everything and put it in the food processor along with any stray rocket or other leftover salads. Add a squeeze of lemon, a bulb of garlic, olive oil, a tablespoon of red wine vinegar, some salt and about half a container of anchovies and blitz it. You’ve got yourself a mighty fine salsa verde with zero waste.
– Think about veggies that take up smaller amounts of room and value for money before you decide to plant that entire planter box full of carrots. Yes, fresh garden carrots are yummy – but they’re also about two cents from the supermarket. Salad veggies take up less room and cost a lot more if you eat tons of them. If you can produce limes I will fashion you some sort of Veggie God plaque and throw a parade in your honour.
Little Eggie all grown up.
EDIT: After bagging my lime tree for mucking me around…. IT DID THIS:
I’m going to be SO RICH. See ya, guys.