This year for the first time i've made a serious attempt at growing my own vegetables. I've always loved the idea of having a vegetable garden to wander into with a basket and pick an array of treats, but invariably I put a couple of things in, then i'm away, watering doesn't happen, and everything ends up dead or forgotten.
I was out at one of my favourite community projects earlier this year, Produce to the People, and while picking some veges for their shop, I really had a strong desire to make my own garden. I didn't know how, but I knew that I needed to.
Interestingly, Pinterest has been a major source of information and inspiration, and i've spent the winter months pinning tips for urban gardening, compact gardens and vertical gardens. I've designed a patch that is all raised and once it gets a grow on, will be taken up and over a frame to maximise growing in a minimal space.
In Tasmania, the old gardeners tale is that tomatoes and pretty much everything else goes in after show day to avoid frosts. So show day today has been the catalyst for a lot of potting and repotting of seedlings, the building of a potato tower full of Dutch Creams, and the creation of little companion families of plants. While I was elbow deep in soil, it occurred to me that many of the things I put off or don't do are things which my mother is exceptional at - including gardening.
It made me wonder if one of my patterns is avoiding comparison or criticism that my way isn't good enough, so I just don't do it. It was an interesting realisation, and also an acknowledgement as I made a garden that would be so alien to the type of neat and orderly rows of mum's vege gardens, that I unconsciously had waited to create a garden that was an expression of me, my way.
While our gardening styles are very different, the lovely thing about this gardening adventure is that we now have a shared hobby and discussion, and her wisdom and experience has already been valuable in solving a few problems my novice ways had created. I'm looking forward to a summer of ripe tomatoes, corn, peas, cucumber, zuccini and lots of fresh marigolds for offerings, and made sure I only planted things I not only loved, but could be preserved if there were too many (we've all been the recipient of those giants zuccini's no one wants!).
The final piece is going to be a watering system on a timer so when I head off to India in February, just as everything hits its peak, there won't be a drought along with a glut. We'll see how it goes, i'm sure there will be a lot of learning curves before the first harvest, but this time, i'm seeing failure as all part of the long term learning, and eventually, i'll have a raging feast filled garden, filled with love and nutrition.
Dr Polly McGee is an author, entrepreneur educator, digital strategist and urban yogi. Her writing and teaching is informed by a life of diverse experience: she has worked in kitchens, bars and restaurants from frantic to fancy, managed multimillion dollar innovation grants programs, worked with hundreds of start-ups to refine their business ideas and source funding.
A trusted communicator on digital strategy and small business, Polly has contributed to a range of business and digital publications for private enterprise and Government clients including Start-up Smart, presented ABC Northern Tasmania’s Drive Program, and created a suite of digital, audio and video content. As co-founder of Start-up Tasmania, she was voted one of the most influential people in Australian Start-ups. Polly is currently the Strategic Marketing Lead for global edtech company Prosper Education, and President of social enterprise Produce to the People. Her first novel, Dogs of India came out in 2015. Her second book The Good Hustle will be in bookshops and online Feb 2018