Growing up I spent a lot of time in my paternal grandfather’s back garden, swinging on the Hills Hoist, exploring the forbidden zone behind the garden shed (turns out it was just a bunch of pots and tools) and splashing my sister when she walked past the bird bath.
In my mind’s eye it’s always summer, and there were always delicious tomatoes growing against the fence. I remember eating spearmint and parsley and lettuce right from the garden and was amazed to learn that plants – just straight from the ground, regular plants – were something we could eat. It sounds utterly dumb now, but when I realised that food was as simple as a plant in the ground, and not necessarily the fruit in buckets at the supermarket or the vegetables wrapped in plastic, there was a shift in the way I saw food and, in particular, gardening.
Of course, then I became a teenager and didn’t think about it for a decade.
But when Ben and I moved to the mountains and I had two young kids at home and a raging case of overwhelm, I planted a little native garden in our bare backyard. I didn’t know it at the time, but that garden was an integral part of my recovery from post natal depression – watering it, checking its progress every day, discovering the swell of a blossom about to burst and the joy of seeing a flower where yesterday there was none – was actually an act of mindfulness, even if I didn’t realise it at the time.
Now, after many false starts and failed gardens, we’ve got two big veggie beds in our backyard that have kept us in kale, spinach, herbs, silver beet, broccoli, carrots, beans and peas for months. We’re just about to plant out our first crop of tomatoes (my pop would be proud) and my passion for gardening has – if you’ll excuse the pun – really blossomed.
In today’s episode I have the absolute pleasure of chatting with Kyrstie Barcak – a passionate gardener and educator, whose goal is to see every home grow at least one edible plant. She’s written a beautiful book called Grow Just One Thing, and today she and I talk about why she encourages people to start with just one plant.
We talk about information overwhelm, garden comparisons, time constraints, the steep learning curve of growing your own food, and why starting small is the best way to slowly find a level that works for you.
Kyrstie has some great advice for people who want to grow just one thing but don’t know where to start – including some suggestions for hard-to-kill starter plants and her never fail tips on caring for your plant once you’ve got it in the ground.
Enjoy! And let me know – do you have a garden? Some herbs in a pot near the back door? A lemon tree in the backyard?