Today, I am highlighting Erwin Ramos. His Instagram account,@garden.of.oz, was recommended to me from @rooandcrew when I asked for advice on growing eggplant. The pictures of big, beautiful eggplants below can do the explaining as to why his account was suggested.
When I reached out to him for advice, he was SO kind to provide me with eggplant growing tips. Not only is he a helpful gardener with AMAZING pictures of his prolific plants, he has super fun gardening challenges on his Instagram account. I highly recommend reading his interview below and following him for some eggs-cellent (as in egg-plant, get it?) gardening inspiration.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Erwin, and I’m 37 years old from Melbourne, Australia. I was born in the Philippines but have been living here in Australia since 1993. 🙂
As per my profile, I am a father of 3… who considers myself as a ‘Rookie’ Gardener – because it is true! A lot of people don’t believe me (which is quite flattering really), but I have soooo much more to learn before I become comfortable removing that ‘Rookie’ tag. Hehe
Besides gardening, I LOVE photography, fishing and cooking! It makes me wonder sometimes why I am an IT Business Analyst by profession!?
Anyway, let’s get on with the questions!
How long have you been gardening?
I have been gardening for about 3 years now… although this past year, specifically this past spring/summer season, was the one where I’ve been active at doing so. I planted so much more! And I have learned so much more!
What are you most proud of about your garden?
I am most proud of how productive my garden has been considering it is only approximately 40 square meters in size. A lot of people were assuming that I have a HUGE garden, after seeing my harvests. The truth is, whilst I didn’t plant too many varieties of vegetables, I planted A LOT of the ones I chose to plant. For example, I planted a lot of eggplants, green beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini and corn. Because they are the vegetables we love to eat!
Naturally, when they all produce well – which in my case they all did – my harvests looked spectacular! I would harvest baskets and baskets of green beans and eggplants and people are wondering “WOW! You must have a HUGE garden!” But the truth is I don’t have a huge garden. It’s just that everything I planted seemed to thrive!
What are your favorite learning resources for gardening?
My favorite learning resource is definitely like-minded gardeners, such as my parents and people I have met on Instagram. Occasionally I would Google and YouTube certain things, but I feel that the best source of information is directly from people who have done it before. My parents have been gardening as far as I can remember, and again it makes me wonder why I didn’t start gardening much earlier. Maybe because I didn’t need to because I can just harvest from their garden! Haha! Whilst they are very unconventional in the way they garden, they know a lot about the things they know how to do!
On the other hand, I never knew that Instagram could be such a powerful tool in learning about gardening. Simply coming across various gardening accounts by passionate gardeners was enough to inspire me to do better! The best part is they are all so nice and truly inspiring! Looking at their beautiful garden photos is definitely a source of motivation for me!
As a matter of fact, I want to make my garden even more productive this coming spring/summer, so I am doing all the preparation now. I’ve learned so much from everyone and I want to put all those learnings into action!
What are three things you wish you knew when you started gardening?
1. I wish I knew more about the importance of soil. Good soil is the KEY to a successful garden! Everything else come second! No matter how hard you try, if you don’t have good soil, you are less likely to succeed.
2. I wish I knew more about what to plant and when to plant them! Haha! I think that’s a common mistake to new gardeners. Somehow, they get this surge of excitement about having a garden and they just buy seeds and plant everything they want! Not realizing certain plants can only be planted at certain times of the year.
3. I wish I had considered the SIZE of the plants at FULL-GROWN stage, so I wouldn’t have planted my seeds too close to each other! Hahaha! Seriously, that is another common mistake, my new gardeners! They plant everything too close to each other not considering the size of the plants at full-grown stage! This happened in my first year of gardening and it wasn’t a pretty sight- hehe!
When you have an issue with your garden and you aren’t sure of the cause, what do you do to troubleshoot?
Prior to knowing about Instagram, I honestly would just Google it. One way or another, I would find a blog or a YouTube video that helped me troubleshoot. Although I don’t have particular YouTube channels or blogs that I follow at the moment.
How do you determine what to grow each season and which variety to grow?
I had to learn from scratch… and what I mean by that is, I started looking at seed packets to figure out when’s the best time to plant what. I then started looking at gardening magazines and websites… and eventually, I just ask people on Instagram. But since I have been doing this for 3 years now, I have a fair idea now of what I wanna plant every season.
What are you most excited to grow this season?
I am truly excited about planting Snake Beans this coming spring! Snake Beans are one of my favorite vegetables of all time! I have always thought that I couldn’t grow them in Melbourne but I know some people who have successfully done so (thanks to Instagram!). I’m also excited to plant corn once again!!! If there is one thing I wish I could grow all year, it would be corn! Everyone in my family loves it!!! I want to make extra raised garden beds just to plant extra corn this coming spring!
Do you have any other advice you would like to share? Go for it!
The only advice I can give is to LOVE what you’re doing in the garden. If you give your garden a lot of love, it’ll give you a lot of love back! Be patient… and if you fail, don’t give up. Instead, figure out why you failed, and learn from those mistakes. And once you’ve learned all your lessons, HELP OTHERS learn theirs!
Thank you so much, Erwin! I am SO grateful for your inspiration, encouragement and advice. Happy gardening!