First and foremost we’re growing good soil.
– Fabian Capomolla, The Hungry Gardener
After years of getting overexcited by lovely books such as The Italian Way I have learnt that in order to make peace with the possums in our neighbourhood, I’m best to keep it simple and grow only herbs and lettuces. Herbs are so easy to grow (and exey to buy), and lettuces are a goodie to grow at home as they are often on the Organics Dirty Dozen list. Anything else I figure local farmers are probably much better poised to grow for our family. Here’s a list of the herbs that I grow:
+ Basil (in the warmer months each year) – great for salads and home made pestos.
+ Dill – for a cucumber salad or creamy slaw.
+ Rosemary – necessary for a wintery slow roasted lamb shoulder, or a cutting to tie with kitchen string around a brown paper present.
+ Thyme – sprinkle with feta over steamed vegetables.
+ Mint – for juices and salads in summer, and herbal teas in the shoulder seasons.
+ Oregano – cut up and mixed with olive oil and lemon juice for the best roast chicken marinade.
+ Flat leaf parsley – for most Italian recipes.
+ Bay leaves – grow on a tree in my neighbour’s front yard, I’m sure they don’t mind the odd leaf pruning whenever I make a French lentil soup in the winter time.
+ Salad leaves. Rocket, butter lettuces and cos (pick the Rocket early, the older it gets the more bitter).
A word on trench composting: I’ve found the simplest way to keep soil healthy and deal with household waste is to dig a hole and bury our kitchen scraps in the garden each week. This way the worms get a good feast and leave castings, the soil gets all of the nutrients of the produce and we don’t contribute to greenhouse gases in landfill. If you’re keen to improve your soil and address your household waste I don’t think you need to rush out and buy a compost bin or order a green bin from the council – burying your kitchen scraps with a shovel really works just the same way. I also add a bit of rotted manure from my sister’s farm when I can get my hands on it, and layer pea straw around the plants to stop the soil from drying out in summer. The odd bit of natural seaweed fertiliser also does wonders every now and then.