This article originally appeared in the Esperance Tide, our local magazine.
Spring has sprung! Here in Esperance, that means that long, lazy days of lying on the beach are just around the corner. You can sip on a Chardonnay, watch your friends fall off their surfboards, and only get up to reapply the kids’ sunscreen and tell little Tommy to stop eating sand. You’ll also have to check out the huge fish that your mate Dazza just caught. Onya Dazza! We’ll be around for fish on the BBQ tonight.
But spring is also the time for gardening. Everything is growing! This is the time of year when you look out the back yard, and suddenly, the grass is knee height. Small children could get lost in it. In fact, now that you think of it, you haven’t seen the dog for a while…. Before you don the gardening gloves and straw hat, here’s a few tips on how to keep your garden looking tip top.
Does your house look like an abandoned meth lab? You could renovate, paint, and redecorate, or just plant some flowers! Here are some that you can try. Otherwise, just plant whatever Costa from Gardening Australia recommends. The man is a genius, even if he does look like a giant garden gnome that has come to life.
Geraniums: Unless you’ve just built a brand new house, chances are you’ve already got geraniums growing in the front yard. Where do they come from? No one really knows. They’re probably planted by squads of ninja grannies operating under the cover of darkness.
Bougainvillaea: I’m fairly certain that one day bougainvillea will take over the world. It’s inevitable. It won’t even be a sad day when we succumb to our bougainvillea overlords, because it’s such a beautiful plant. Just don’t plant it too close to the front door, or it will seal you inside the house and you’ll never get out.
Succulents: Succulents are all the rage now, taking over from the ‘colourful grasses’ trend of a few years back. They’re like magic! Just pinch a piece of a succulent from someone else’s garden, and put it in the ground. In a few weeks, the succulent will have moved into your house, done all your dusting, and sorted out your taxes. No, wait, maybe I’m getting that wrong?
What Australian back yard is complete without a veggie garden? Home grown tomatoes, zucchinis as thick as your thigh, and enough pumpkins to supply the entire neighbourhood, if only they weren’t all growing pumpkins too. It’s the Aussie dream. But what to plant? Should you try growing potatoes? Leeks? That funny looking stuff that Dazza’s got growing in his veggie garden? Hang on, that’s not a vegetable. Artichokes? What the heck even is an artichoke? Are you sure you should eat a thing that looks like that? Ok, let’s keep this simple. Here are some veggies that every self-respecting gardener needs to plant:
Tomatoes: Plant as many as possible. A homegrown tomato tastes like freshly picked sunshine. You’ll end up with hundreds of tomatoes covering every surface in your house, and you’ll dream of tomatoes at night. You’ll give them to Aunt Maude, and she’ll give back jars of homemade chutney, which you’ll feel guilty about leaving to go mouldy in the fridge.
Potatoes: It’s backbreaking work, and you’ll end up with enough potatoes for one bowl of potato salad, but at least the kids will know where potatoes come from. They won’t care, but at least they’ll know.
Kale: Ah, what a plant! Not even the bugs will eat it. Only Lorna the yoga instructor from next door likes it. But kale is a must have veggie in every garden, for two reasons. Firstly, you can make kale chips. Yes, they taste nothing like real chips, but they make you feel as virtuous as the Dalai Lama himself. And if you offer them around at parties, everyone will be very impressed. What a hip and modern cook you are! Secondly, you can give everyone that comes to your house a big bunch of kale. If someone you don’t like suggests a visit, just tell them you have plenty of kale to give them. You might find that they suddenly have other plans.
Radishes: Sure. Plant radishes, why not? They grow like Jack’s beanstalk. You’ll have about 756 of them ready to eat in two days, and if you wait until the third day, they’ll be too big and misshapen to eat. But they’re funny to laugh at. Yes, that one does look like Uncle Bob’s nose!
Strawberries: Yes, plant strawberries. Your kids, partner, and neighbours, as well as some blue tongue lizards, your pet dog, flocks of birds, and a rabbit that turned up mysteriously in the back yard will absolutely love the strawberries. You might get to eat one or two if you’re lucky.
Herbs: Ah, now you’re talking! Herbs are easy to grow, and so useful! Of course, you’re going to need a lot of mint, as it’s coming into Mojito season. You’ll need rosemary for your roast lamb, lemongrass for that tasty Thai dish, and oregano and thyme just to pretend that you’re fancy in the kitchen. Don’t worry, no one really uses them, except for Jamie Oliver, and probably your fancy next door neighbour.
There you have it! Follow my handy tips, and your house will be the envy of the neighbours. You’ll delight at dinner parties, and people will run from you in the streets to avoid being given more of your abundant produce. And what’s more, you’ll always have mint for your Mojitos. What more could you want from life?