Whether you’re an aspiring green-thumb or an outright foliage-obsessed plant-person keen to propagate something of the edible variety, then gardening guru Costa Georgiadis’ practical advice will sow the seeds of gardening inspiration.
In this next instalment of The Helpers Series, curated by activist and changemaker Maree Lowes to help you navigate these turbulent times, Costa shares how to plant and harvest your own produce from pots (no backyard plot needed!). Let’s dig in…
Today’s Helper: Costa Georgiadis
Landscape architect, educator, host of Gardening Australia and Get Grubby TV, and Gold Logie nominee
A NOTE FROM MAREE:
When change is around us, it can be hard to fire up and find motivation for the hobbies we usually use to energise ourselves. If there’s one person that has taught me the value of community for keeping our spirits stoked, it’s Costa Georgiadis. I’ve spent a lot of time travelling all over Australia with Costa – from Tassie to the Torres Strait and from Ballarat to the Great Barrier Reef – and no matter how little sleep we’ve got, or how many towns we’ve visited in a week, Costa never has to search for energy because he knows exactly where to find it. It’s in the people around us, who share their heart (and their cuppas) with us. And of course, it’s in the soil beneath our feet. Costa is a legend at cultivating community and connection. Here’s a few words from the man himself sharing his other great talent: growing food.
Growing your own food – Costa Georgiadis
There’s a little bit of backyard farmer in all of us. It’s a skill that, until a generation or so ago, was standard practice in every household. Coronavirus presents an opportunity for all of us to direct the current uncertainty unfolding around us into an activity that brings immediate physical and mental health benefits. Add to this the hope of fresh produce and you start to understand why any effort to grow your own food is the perfect antidote to stress.
Growing fruit and veggies at home is inclusive – you can involve the whole family in the process of growing, caring for, harvesting and sharing your homegrown produce.
Like anything, it’s best to start small and go for fast-growing crops. Growing some fresh veggies or herbs in containers is the best way to begin, particularly if you don’t have any backyard growing space. The best veggies to get growing with are greens such as lettuces, rocket and Asian greens. All of these can begin to be harvested within 4–5 weeks.
Radishes are another speedy option, as they’ll be ready for harvest within three weeks. Beetroot with baby leaves can be harvested within a few weeks, and the tips of bush beans can be eaten during the growing process (used in stir frys or salads). And, of course, growing some sprouts and microgreens on a kitchen or living room window sill is as fast as it gets for some immediate homegrown food.
Reusing old pots is a perfectly affordable way to begin. They’re readily found on the street during curbside clean-up time, or equally, white plastic containers discarded for recycling by restaurants are another free way to begin (of course, give any recycled containers a good wash and handle them with care during this time).
A cheap and easy way to fill your containers is with a couple of bags of potting mix from a local nursery and a couple of punnets of seedlings. Plant two or three varieties of lettuce in each pot, using between four to six seedlings in each 300mm wide container you have.
Herbs such as thyme and oregano go well together in a pot as they can cascade over the edge, and rosemary can be used for the centrepiece. Silverbeet is another valuable quick-grow veggie that can be planted in a pot – the outside leaves can be repeatedly picked and used in lots of dishes.
Please note: this is a highly addictive behaviour! Once you begin there’s no saying where this growing will take you, but it’ll be a journey into the joys of gardening (and if you’re lucky, tomatoes will follow!).
The Helpers Series is a blog series inspired by a wise (and widely shared) snippet of childhood advice courtesy of Mister Rogers – “look for the helpers”. It was curated and created by activist and passionate changemaker Maree Lowes, who has rallied some of her favourite ‘helpers’ to offer up their best advice and tips for getting through these challenging times.
To fire you up with Costa’s wisdom and help you with your Mental Health Workout in the times of coronavirus, our friends from Lifecykel are giving readers a 15% discount for all their grow kits. They fit perfectly on bench tops, verandahs, whatever little spot you’ve got and give you something to look forward to every day. Head here and use the discount code ‘MHW2020’ to get growing…
WORDS: COSTA GEORGIADIS, MAREE LOWES
ILLUSTRATION: EMILY EHLERS