After spending three decades murdering every plant I touched, I was amazed to find myself locked in with a working edible garden.
Maybe isolation taught me patience. Maybe the pandemic has made me more cautious. It certainly helped that there were already vegetables growing in raised beds when we moved in: from them I learned that part of gardening is watching the plants die (some died! that was OK!), and from there I gained the confidence to plant more.
My first piece of advice is to start simple. Basil, dill, parsley, chili, snow peas, lemon thyme, strawberries and mint are all hardy if you have good soil (did you know you can just go out and buy a bag whole worms? And then just throw them away?), enough sun and don’t forget to water every day. I keep my herbs and veggies in tubs hanging over the garden beds, where zucchini, beans and tomatoes grow for which I can’t take credit; the beds were already irrigated.
My second tip is to dungeon it’s simple with low-cost accessories that take the guesswork and the legwork out of the way. I have a large rubber tub ($4, Bunnings) that collects rain (free, La Niña). I have a soil meter ($17) that measures moisture, pH, and light (a magical tool that tells you when to water and has kept my houseplants alive too). I first plant the seeds in a seed box ($12), which protects them from the weather until they are big enough to move. Once settled in their balcony containers ($11), I scatter an assortment of flowers around them year-round to attract bees to pollinate the plants. Bees: free too!
It’s obscene how much joy this all brings me – and it takes about five minutes a day to deal with it. I run around every morning now with my cute and silly watering can ($20) to water everyone, cut off the dead leaves (this helps the plant focus on the live ones) and see if anything has happened. A new strawberry! A different flower! A bee! Look at this bee! I shout all the developments to my bored partner and show him the small yield that I collected in a small basket (so it looks bigger). Sometimes I wear a hat while I do it, like a woman on a boring BBC show. It’s so much easier than I thought! And incredibly dull. I love it.