I grew up in a small town in North Wales. There is so much natural beauty and countryside around us that until you leave it’s easy to take it for granted. Well I left in 2010 at the ripe old age of 19 and have been living mostly in large cities or travelling ever since. Now here I am at 23, running around the farm showing everybody my first ever home-grown courgette, bursting with pride.
Nana and Grandad Bell are gardeners extraordinaire and my mum tried her hand at home-grown herbs, tomatoes and a cute little apple tree at one point. And I never really got it. It seemed like a lot of hard work that didn’t really pay off. If anything did grow (it seemed unlikely to me that our wet and cold seasons would produce anything exciting at all) it would be a small and ugly version of what we could pick up in a supermarket for a fraction of the price.
A little older and a lot wiser, I have opened up to how rewarding it must be to grow your own grub. I purchased a herb garden starter kit in my last year of uni and managed to rustle up some basil but nothing else worth mentioning. It felt good! Unfortunately I had to move to the South East of England and couldn’t take it with me but…the thought was there.
I spent my first ten months in Australia living in Sydney. This sprawling metropolis shouldn’t be the place to start getting interested in seasonal eating and organic veg, the Aussies are so health conscious that it’s much easier than in the UK. There are farmers markets everywhere, fruit and veg stalls almost every day of the week and I started noticing the prices changing season to season. Although this must seem foreign to some of you, I was all but unaware of the difference seasonal eating makes on the flavour. This isn’t because my mum doesn’t buy and cook good food but because we’re from the UK where we have to import almost everything as we just don’t have the climate for growing most fruit.
Almost immediately after arriving in Broome I was given the option to start planting in the veggie garden. It was a mulchy barren wasteland with nothing but a few sprigs of basil and a couple of chilli plants. After separating the mulch (that’s the old leaves from across the property that you use to protect the ground from harsh sun and walking over etc) into the troughs, I began planting some seeds on the beds. With the help of my new friend we managed to plant a lot in those first couple of weeks.
I think it took a lot of trial and error but we eventually saw some fruits for our labour. It gave me an appreciation of how well organised you have to be to make the most of your garden and how different each plant is. Two months after those initial planting days I am still planting new seeds but the zucchini/courgette seeds I put down six weeks ago are my pride and joy. They grew into three HUGE plants and are all producing fruits. I made my own natural pesticide (I’ll pop down the method at the bottom in case you’re interested) and used leftover coffee grinds and tea leaves from the café as a fertilizer and gave them a lot of love. I think if I had used some more fantastical fertiliser or if I’d had more experience I could have harvested more courgettes by now, but I can tell you it was worth the extra hard work just for the taste of the first crop.
One, lone little courgette, around 5 or 6 inches long and incredibly green. I sliced it up, drizzled it with olive oil and some salt and pepper and fried it. Passing it around, it was so satisfying to see everybody enjoying it. The flavour was as luminous as the colour.
I know I’m not about to win any awards for Project Veggie Garden, but for me this is a big step. It has confirmed my love for seasonal eating and I will aspire to grow my own food in the future and teach my hypothetical kids the same.