And I've always cooked since I started batching it. With a longstanding preference for Middle Eastern foods, I developed quite a skillset.
Then when I fell ill 33 years ago I combined the two obsessions.
I grew things to eat -- of course -- but I started growing novel comestibles that were not in standard supermarket supply in order to sustain my increasingly exotic kitchen experiments.
Having a Kitchen Garden was very important to me.
So was cooking an evening meal.
Handicapped as I was -- and still am -- by pain, fatigue and stiffness -- preparing an evening meal for the fam became a touchstone of my existence. Even if I spent a good part of the day abed, at least I could do that in order to make my daylight hours valued by at least one concrete achievement.
Since I was doing the house husband thing -- and raising two kids -- the food-on-the-table mantra was pretty important.
More and more, so was the garden. Through a few different residences I made do with the dirt and space.
Each garden is, as we all know, a journey and a partnership where you aspire to play a deity. But a kitchen garden is also powerful therapy as it lives close by, and can suffer any amount of interference or neglect. If you are challenged physically, it won't judge you as growing things are always patient.
They have to be.
You can toil in the soil as long as you can. In my case I can work outback, lay down, work out back, lay down, drink a cup of tea, work outback... and so it goes.
I even used to aspire to 20 minute sessions before I would allow myself a 'smoko'.
Who needs a physiotherapist when you have dirt calling you to garden labour? Instead of the factory horn or the punch clock, it's the warble of magpies.
Over the last few years, since moving here, growing things has become much more important to me. Not only am I now skilled up more than any time in the past, but I now run two gardens -- one here and one at the school. I may not be a bona fide horticulturalist but you can learn a few botanical things if you work at it.
The return in way of exercise, social and mental health is inestimable.
A kitchen garden gives you value the more you value it.
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