Dear Organic Garden lover,
When I was a little boy I spent most school holidays with my grandparents. We lived many hours drive from them, so I was always excited to be going to stay for a week or two.
I have many warm memories of wandering around after my grandpa in the garden. He'd talk to me about this plant and that, showing me how to look after them, when to pick them and even how to store them. He'd let me plant seeds with him. And of course there was the feeding of the chooks (chickens) and collecting the 'googs' (googy eggs) as we'd call them.
My favourite part of the day was mid-morning when we'd ritually go pick our oranges. We'd bring them into grandpa's work shed, slice them and slurp away! They had a Valencia tree and a Navel, so there were oranges ready to pick almost all year round. Their home grown fruits and vegetables tasted so much better than what I was used to at home (my parents didn't really care much for gardening, so pretty much all of our food came from the supermarket).
It was those cherished times spent with my grandpa that gave me my love of gardening. But when I finally bought my own home, some years later and started to garden - well let's just say that I didn't have a green thumb. It was embarrassing! Surely there's a gardening gene passed on from generation to generation? Even if it skipped a generation that should have still worked out for me.
Several seasons in a row I started out with so much enthusiasm, only to watch my veggies start off OK, then become straggly and wither, or bolt straight to seed. What was I doing wrong???
When I think back now on those early years I can see clearly each and every mistake.... well it's the bleeding obvious ones that really stand out in my mind. My biggest problem was that my grandparents had both passed over by the time I had my own "garden".
And my parents didn't have a clue about gardening, so they were no help. Most of my friends grew up with the same dilemma as me - our parents just weren't gardeners.
So there was quite a bit of hit and miss in my first few years of organic gardening. I managed to have some things give me small yields, but many of my plants didn't thrive. The thing is, that I really loved the time I spent in the garden - especially the veggie garden. It was the one place where I could feel calm... to recharge and restore some sanity to my life.
I decided to get a serious amount of learning into my head, one way or another. I decided to educate myself so that I could get good at growing my own food.
I studied horticulture at TAFE, completing certificate III in Horticulture. Then I became the co-owner of an edible plants nursery for several years.
By this time I was growing enough vegetables to keep my family going over the main growing season. I was quite proud of myself - and still am. The thrill of saying "I grew that" about things we were eating - well I can tell you - it's joyful. Truly joyful!
But you don't have to spend all the time it took me, effort and money to learn how to become a successful organic gardener. The combination of my love for growing (and eating) organic food, along with my experience with plants led me to create the...
" Organic Food Gardening Beginner's Manual "