I Did a Tree-Change But it Didn’t Make me a Gardener

When contemplating a tree-change, images of weekends spent pottering in the garden came to mind. We would eat an abundance of home-grown fresh produce and any excess will be pickled or frozen for use when out of season. We would never shop for fresh produce at Woolies again – on Saturday’s I would frequent the local farmers markets to buy anything we haven’t grown. When visitors came to dinner, everything on the plate would be home-grown, including the meat.

The first two years, I had reasonable success with snow peas and zucchinis.  Tippi would go out to the veggie patch and pick and eat her own crunchy snow peas – I’m a natural! The strawberry plants thrived but didn’t fruit very much, but I was undeterred – they’ll do better next year!

The problem with veggie patches is that they require attention ALL THE BLOODY TIME! Turn your back for a few days and the weeds start to take over, the snails slide on in and the birds have a party. On a fine spring day, I will happily spend an afternoon in the veggie patch clearing, weeding, digging, planting, fertilising, watering. Allen Seale would be proud! (to readers too young to get the reference, he was a gardener on TV in the 80s famous for his whistling lisp)

Then I’m done. Until the next warm spring day that is a) on a weekend and b) on a day that I FEEL like gardening again – that can be weeks for even months later. Damn, stupid veggie patch doesn’t just look after itself. By the time I get back to it, I have to start again. And then the same happens, so I start again. Then the same happens again. And then it’s winter and there’s no bloody way I’m digging around in dirt when it’s 4 degrees outside.

Five years on, that veggie patch and I are still not friends. This year we actually got a few strawberries – all of which my daughter ate – and I have a huge bush of parsley of the old fashioned kind – you know, the curly stuff no one uses anymore – and that’s about it. No snow peas, no zucchini, nothing. Zip.

Wouldn’t you think that the very act of making a tree-change (rather than just talking about it forever) would automatically grant you magical gardening abilities?

It doesn’t. Here is the fruit of my every now and then labours:



There’s actually some tomatoes in there, but they’ve been there for weeks and just stay green.


Oh, and I still haven’t been to a local farmers market. I’m going this weekend I promise! Our guests do eat home-grown beef and lamb, but I can’t take credit for that – that’s Andy’s job.