Growing pains in my veggie patch 6



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My veggie patch has suffered from a couple of months of neglect: a trip overseas and then a bout of the ‘flu has wreaked havoc and taken its toll on me and the herbs and veggies. I came back from a trip in late March and found my little patch overgrown and in desperate need of weeding. But first I had to get to grips with the parsley, fennel, sorrel and rocket that had bolted and gone to seed. Perhaps it was the rains and the unseasonal warm autumn that caused the rampant growth of all the herbs. It was difficult deciding to be ruthless and prune, uproot and discard almost everything. I kept the sage and thyme, pruned the basil and sadly decided to get rid of everything else. There is only so much you can do with an excess of herbs – luckily my local Italian restaurant was thrilled with the fennel: flowers, bulbs and fronds; sorrel; sage; thyme, rosemary and wild rocket. My misery was their happiness and I was glad that the surplus from my garden was being used.

Although saddened by the now bare veggie patch, I was looking forward to renovating and refreshing the soil and replanting. I have now planted peas and broad beans, beetroot and broccoli. I have also planted garlic and hope this time it will be third time lucky! In previous years I planted garlic, watched it sprout and grow and then come summer and a few months before they can be harvested have gone away and returned to wilted and dying plants that have suffered through neglect. This time I am determined to do all I can to get my first crop of home grown garlic.


I have in the past couple of weeks grown leeks, spring onions and bok choy by placing the cut off root end in a shallow saucer of water and watched as the leaves appeared a few days later and then transplanted them to the patch. This is a quick, cheap and interesting way of propagation and also means you can stagger planting and get new crops every time you harvest.

My patch is now free of weeds, replanted and thriving. In addition to all the new seedlings the parsley, coriander, and basil have self seeded. I have filled a few bare spots with kale and am looking forward to harvesting winter crops in the coming months.

The pain of discarding has given way to the happiness of what is to come.


Spicy Pesto

This is an asian inspired pesto sauce that is easy to make and goes well with grilled prawns or fish [salmon or cod]



  • 1 bunch sorrel [about 15 -20 leaves] or a handful of fennel fronds
  • ½ cup olive oil or coconut oil
  • ½ cup raw cashews or raw peanuts
  • 2 green chillies
  • salt and pepper to taste



  1. Wash and dry the sorrel and remove the midrib.
  2. Cut chillies in half and de seed and remove white membrane.
  3. In a mortar and pestle grind up the nuts [cashews or peanuts] with some salt and the oil add the chillies and grind until nuts and leaves are coarsely ground.
  4. Adjust seasoning and add more oil if mixture is too dry. Serve on grilled prawns or fish

Note: add more chilli if you prefer it hotter

Kumar Pereira

Born in Sri Lanka, Kumar studied typographic design at the London College of Printing. After working in London he lived in Hong Kong for 18 years. He left Hong Kong for Australia in 1988 and lives and works in Sydney. He has worked in publishing in Sydney before joining Sydney Institute, TAFE NSW Design Centre, Enmore where he was Senior Head Teacher Graphic design, until 2007. In 2011 he was a contestant in MasterChef Australia, series 3 where he made it to the top 12. In 2012 he was part of MasterChef All Stars. In addition to design and cooking his interests include gardening, walking and illustration and travel. His Book ‘Kumar’s Family Cookbook’ was published by Allen & Unwin, Australia in May 2013 and is available in Australia and internationally. ‘Paletteables’ a set of 6 illustrated cards with cooking suggestions was published in March 2014 and is available at select stores and online;

  1. I take care of the front garden, herbs ect., grt tips re propagation, the back garden, have given back to nature, tiny birds coming back at one time, sad to say, neighbours cats have also made it their home!!!

  2. I’m pleased you were able to give away the herbs Kumar. I too have trouble with garlic – don’t bother anymore, but it is good at repelling insects.

  3. Great hint about planting the root end of bok choy etc, I’m going to try this; as you say Kumar, it staggers the planting so easily.

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