How and when did your passion for gardening start?
My passion for gardening started at six years old when helping my grandfather prune his grapevine. He gave me a cutting which I took home and planted and that spring it grew and fruited. I still have that grapevine.
Favourite and least favourite produce to grow?
Favourite produce to grow is avocados – it’s such a wonderful and versatile fruit. I truly do not have a least favourite, I just love growing any food that you can eat.
How should a novice gardener make a start?
Start with lettuce. It’s super-easy to grow and when watered with a seaweed tonic it provides the plant with over 40 different vital elements, including iodine, making it especially healthy for children with developing brains.
What’s a gardening hack you can share?
Coir or Coco Peat, a by-product of coconut production, is an absolute must for gardeners raising seed or growing from cuttings. You buy it in dehydrated blocks and soak it in water to prepare for use. It’s cheap and a wonderful clean, natural product.
What’s the most common gardening mistake you see being made?
People fail to feed their vegetable and herbs sufficiently. Regular weekly liquid feeds with seaweed and fish based fertilisers and a monthly addition of blood and bone is essential for optimum production.
What underrated produce would you like to see more people grow and use?
More people should grow sweet potatoes at home. Plant tip cuttings in spring and harvest magnificent tubers in autumn, but throughout the growing season harvest the young foliage and steam lightly with an added drizzle of olive oil. The leaves taste delicious.
What should you focus on planting if you only have a small garden?
If you’re pushed for space, plant fresh leafy greens including silver beet, rocket, English spinach and lettuce.
Indoor plants are very on trend at the moment. What plants do you recommend and what are your tips for keeping them healthy?
My favourite indoor plant is the beautiful Phalaenopsis Orchid. It flowers profusely indoors for months. Lightly liquid feed them once a month with a product such as Seasol PowerFeed and be careful to not over water. If the soil feels wet, do not add more water. As a rule, water them once a fortnight in winter and once a week in summer.
What do you see being discarded from the garden that really should be used?
Lawn clippings are a wonderful asset that should really not be removed from the lawn. They should be allowed to drop back onto the lawn and work their way back into the soil. If they are collected and removed from the lawn mix them with blood and bone, about a handful for each catcher full of clippings and set aside in a pile in a shaded position allowing them to compost. After about six weeks they can be used as a mulch on the garden.
We hear a lot about family trade secrets being passed down through the generations, what’s a trademark that you’ll be passing on?
Slow release fertilisers turn any amateur gardener into an overnight expert. All commercial growers use slow release fertilisers in everything they grow. Potted plants and established gardens all benefit massively by using these slow release products and they are far safer for the environment than traditional fast release forms.