In the Elk office we are constantly amazed by the delicious produce our wonderful Customer Service extraordinaire, Bec Fitzgibbon kindly brings in to share with the Elk Crew. Digging a little deeper into where all this nutritious bounty comes from we discovered the incredible garden that Bec’s Dad, Michael Fitzgibbon - with the help of his family - has created at their home in Woodend, a beautiful area in regional Victoria, Australia.
To celebrate Earth Day on Friday 22 April, we asked Michael to let us in on his secret tips to creating your very own garden wonderland of fresh organic seasonal produce, and in so doing, make a positive impact on the environment -
What’s growing this season in the Fitzgibbon vegetable garden?
Snow peas, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, PEANUTS! cucumbers, lots of tomatoes, heaps of passionfruit, corn, egg plants, capsicums, beetroot, zucchinis, squash, blueberries, chillies, limes, lemons, oranges, mandarins, lemon grass, heaps of herbs… and more…
Is the selection of vegetables the same every season or do you change it up?
We do like to change it up and try new things – the growing season in Woodend, Victoria, Australia, can be tricky with the cold weather and frosts but that’s not going to stop us experimenting! This season we planted sweet potatoes and peanuts for the first time – the peanuts were a success and now we’re anxiously awaiting the arrival of the sweet potatoes!
What are your secret tips for growing such an inspiring garden?
You have to love it and be excited by every new development. It’s a passion that rewards you in so many ways... We like to add a bit of art and interest to the garden so it’s not just functional but also fun to be around. The whole family has been involved – Bec even built the entrance arbor!
We have a ‘harvest basket’ that we all use to head down to the patch and round up a crop...
What are the rules of thumb you follow (green thumb if you wish – pardon the
Preparing the soil is a big one – veggies love soil rich in organic stuff. Regularly watering is critical – if it’s too patchy then things will seed quickly or just not develop. So, good rich soils and regular water – other than that a bit of fertilizer every now and again in the growing season and the let nature do the rest – we won’t use any chemicals or pesticides.
What is your daily routine when it comes to maintaining your garden?
Most days I take a walk through the garden and just enjoy seeing the changes.
Despite what many people may think, there is very little effort in maintaining a garden once it’s established, mulched, and has a watering system – pulling out the odd weed is about it!
We probably only water daily in the middle of summer otherwise every 2 -3 days is enough (rain water of course!).
Do you ever run out of vegetables?
We expanded the veggie patch this season and changed our approach so rather than using the garden to supplement our meals we challenge ourselves to make our meals from the garden – there’s nothing more satisfying than counting the different things in the meal that you grew yourself!
So we still rely on the supermarket a bit, but far less than we used to – our plan is to up the bar again this season.
What vegetable do you pride yourself in growing?
Hmm...whilst it’s not a vegetable, it’s hard not be proud of growing peanuts in Woodend!
Earth Day 2016 #trees4earth
To make a difference, all you have to do is plant one tree! Over the next five years, as Earth Day moves closer to its 50th anniversary, they are asking everyone to help achieve one of the most ambitious goals yet — planting 7.8 billion trees starting now! Like to learn more? Go to http://www.earthday.org/ and learn how easy it is to make a difference!