Meet the Grower: Ozlem Andogan Gulhan

I am thrilled to share Ozlem’s interview with you all. Her instagram name is which suits her perfectly. If you follow her account, it won’t take you long to feel the love she has for all she grows.

Reading her interview will make you want to dig into your own roots and discover more about your heritage. Get ready to be inspired.

1.Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I was born in Cyprus and migrated to Melbourne, Australia at age 11.  My childhood was spent running around in fields, picking wild flowers, foraging for food, chasing chickens and sheep in a little village surrounded by sloping rocky hills and fig trees. Gardening has reconnected me to my roots and rekindled memories of a happy childhood!

In 2015, my husband and I planned to build an outdoor kitchen/entertaining area and the idea of building a vegetable garden around this area was born. It was either a pool or an edible garden. I’m so happy we chose the later!! I have now been gardening coming onto 2 years and am hooked for life! The growing zone for Melbourne (which I had to google, as I had no idea) is 10 Sub Tropical … the temperatures in Melbourne can be unstable. In the summer months, we can have 4 seasons in one day. Very frustrating for a gardener, but I have learned to be more patient through this gardening journey.

2. You’ve grown some super fun squash, like the tromboncino. Did you have issues with squash bugs? If not, why do you think they stayed away? If yes, how did you manage them?  (They are a major problem with gardeners in my location.)

Oh boy, did I have fun growing those tromboncino last summer!! You can imagine my excitement as a new gardener to have such a high yielding plant and fruit growing all different shapes and size. It was entertaining to say the least!

? Summer loving had me a blast, oh yeah, summer loving happened so fast …. ? ? I was just scrolling through some photos and found these beauties just hanging around! ? It brought a smile to my face! ? The same reaction I had the whole summer, while they graced my garden with their presence! #viva #tromboncino ????????????????? . . . . . #urbanorganicgardener #theseedcollection #urbangardenersrepublic #growyourownfood #grow #gardeningtips #gardenactivist #home #growsomethinggreen #seedaddic #seedsow #seedsnow #backyard #turkey #turkiye #garden #gardening #organicforlife #organicgardener #gardeningtips #nature #gardeningaustralia #melbournegardens #horticulture #healthyliving #thehappygardeninglife #squash #zucchini #kabak

A photo posted by Ozlem Andogan Gulhan ( on


The plant had no issues with pests … the crop were perfectly unblemished.  Towards the end of its life, it was effected by white powdery mildew. This was due to combination of summer rain and heat.  I contained the fungus by cutting off the affected leaves to stop the spread of disease and this helped immensely.  Overall, my method of pest control is companion planting with my vegetables.  Scattered around the garden beds, I grow marigolds, nasturtiums and borage to attract beneficial insects and herbs which act as repellent.  I even used garlic in winter to keep those nasties away!

I hand pick any worms or eggs that I notice, (I work from home and am always in the garden to do so).  Don’t get much work done, but I get rid off a lot of pests!! Haha!!

3. You are super efficient with your backyard space. What three pieces of advice do you have for someone wanting to transform their yard into edible growing space, including where they should start?

Happy weekend beautiful people! ???. I’m loving the way this side of my garden is coming together at the moment! ???. In the centre is my young fig tree, underneath I planted some squash, which I will train to climb the trellis. In the garden bed to the right of the trellis, I have corn , green bush beans and tomatoes. ??? At the end of this bed, there are also some volunteer potatoes, growing from cuttings! ?? At the back along the fence, more tomatoes and climbing beans. ???All at different stages of development. In the raised bed to the right of this pic, I have mint and rocket growing happily together! ??. Small space but, I’ll be harvesting a lot of vegetables from this section of the garden in weeks to come! So what are you waiting for!?! Do yourself a favour and grow your own food! ??????? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . #instagardeners_feature #urbanfarming #urban #urbanorganicgardener #thehappygardeninglife #growsomethinggreen #hydrovegan #garden #homegrown #theseedcollection #seedsnow #seedaddic #gardenactivist #lobotany #greengarden_tr #gardenersofinstagram #secretgarden #bahçe #urbangardenersrepublic #organicgardenermag #pipmag #gardeningaustralia #mutfakgram #summerveggies #growyourownfood #organicgardener #epicgardening #organictomatoes #thediggersclub #sundaygardener

A photo posted by Ozlem Andogan Gulhan ( on

Being an area that is for entertaining, as well as growing food, I wanted the area to look visually attractive.  Therefore, I needed to come up with an idea to contain the plants and have garden paths for people to walk around and enjoy the space. The solution was to include raised beds into the space where plants can be contained, (this can be a difficult task, especially with plants like the tromboncino!!), but mostly it works. Plants such as tomatoes, capsicum, peppers, eggplants, brassicas, beans, etc, work well in raised beds. I think a vegetable garden can look just as pretty as an ornamental one!

Three pieces of advice I can give someone would be to:

  1. Prior to starting, draw your garden space and design your garden beds on paper. Visualizing your plan will help you make most of your garden space.
  1. Good quality soil is important. Soil ensures you have a productive garden.
  1. Companion planting makes most of the small space, for example, growing dwarf beans under corn and basil with tomato plants.

The biggest advice I can give you is just give it a go! There are no mistakes in gardening … we are continually learning!  

4. I’ve seen pics of your SoilWorx soil deliveries on Instagram. What else do you add to your beds – any other growing medium, fertilizer, fish emulsion, etc?

I am a big believer in manure ( Yes S..t!) Haha! In particular, sheep manure. My grandmother used it, my mother uses it and I use it. Sheep manure (aged) is wonderful for the soil. When growing food, soil above everything else is the most important ingredient for a successful harvest. I also use organic compost, and recently started to recycle kitchen scraps and garden cuttings to make my own compost.

Just what the garden needed! Top quality vegetable garden soil from @soilworx_ This is sure to give the garden the boost it needs to get those summer veg going! ??✅?????? . I got the soil in for my brand new Vegepod and to add to exiting garden beds which we will be raising a little higher ⬆️??. . . . . . . . #instagardeners_feature #urbanfarming #urban #urbanorganicgardener #thehappygardeninglife #growsomethinggreen #hydrovegan #garden #homegrown #wintergarden #theseedcollection #seedsnow #seedaddic #gardenactivist #lobotany #greengarden_tr #gizlibahçe #gardenersofinstagram #secretgarden #bahçe #urbangardenersrepublic #organicgardenermag #pipmag #gardeningaustralia #lovegrowsinthisgarden #gardensoil #soilwork

A photo posted by Ozlem Andogan Gulhan ( on

5. I LOVE your artichoke pictures. They have inspired me to grow my own. What advice do you have for someone growing them for the first time? And how did you decide where to plant this perennial, knowing it will remain there for so long?

Thank you, Kara! I LOVE artichoke too. It’s one of the plants that I have a strong connection to. It probably sounds ridiculous to most people but I purposely plant fruit, and especially vegetables, that takes me back to my childhood memories. These were some of the happiest days of my life and growing food has rekindled that connection.

Hello lovely people! ??? Hope you are all having a wonderful week! My artichoke plants are doing extremely well and starting to produce some real beauties! ? This gorgeous one has decided to have triplets!! ?? . . Did you know that the artichoke stems on both the flower head and leaves are edible!?! Just peel back the outer layer of the stem and the leafy part of the leaves ( the most tender and young leaves only) and add them to soups or casseroles or my favourite is to fry them with onion and eggs! ??????????? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . #growwhatyoueat #kitchengarden #organicgardening #instagardeners_feature #urbanfarming #urbanorganicgardener #thehappygardeninglife #growsomethinggreen #hydrovegan #garden #homegrown #wintergarden #theseedcollection #seedsnow #seedaddic #gardenactivist #lobotany #gardeningaustralia #urbangardenersrepublic #gardening #gardeningtips #gardeningknowhow #grow #melbournegardens #flowersofinstagram #organicgardener #greengarden_tr #bahce #backyard #artichoke

A photo posted by Ozlem Andogan Gulhan ( on

They are a hardy plant, pest tolerant and pretty much grow on their own once planted.  They can get huge, so I contain it by cutting off the outer leaves. The plant itself is so attractive and I purposefully planted it at the entrance to the veggie patch, visible so I can admire its beauty! It’s in a full sun position and seems to love it!

6. I noticed you have a mix of pots and raised beds. How do you water all of your plants?

Everything is watered by hand!! But I love it!! It’s my peaceful time.  My meditation time, where I become aware of my thoughts and emotions and any anxiety and doubt no longer exists. Connection is a wonderful thing.

A birds eye view of one side of my garden. Love my happy place! Hope you’re all having a wonderful Thursday.! ???? . . Thank you to all those who have joined me in celebrating my new account name. Im really overwhelmed with all your love and support! To join use #lovegrowsinthisgarden and make sure you also tag me in your posts so I can find you! ????????? . Wishing you all a blissful day! Love always Ozlem ??? . . . . . . . . . . . #instagardeners_feature #urbanfarming #urban #urbanorganicgardener #thehappygardeninglife #growsomethinggreen #hydrovegan #garden #homegrown #theseedcollection #seedsnow #seedaddic #gardenactivist #lobotany #greengarden_tr #gardenersofinstagram #secretgarden #bahçe #urbangardenersrepublic #organicgardenermag #pipmag #gardeningaustralia #mutfakgram #summerveggies #growyourownfood #organicgardener #epicgardening #organicgardening

A photo posted by Ozlem Andogan Gulhan ( on

7. I’m amazed and inspired by your broad bean harvests. Do you preserve any for later? What are your favorite ways eat them?

Broadbeans are one of my favourite beans, and I love how they take over the garden with their stunning foliage. Their pretty flowers are just the thing I love to see in a winter garden!

I preserve them by blanching and freezing.  I love to eat them the traditional way my mum cooks them, pods and all!

Not a bad little harvest of BROAD BEANS on the first day of summer! ?? . I took the plunge and cleared the broad bean plants today! ??? as you can see a few broad beans were picked in the process and I even gave my sister a big basket full to take home! So thankful for this harvest! I’ll be freezing some and giving some away! ??? . . . . . . . . . #instagardeners_feature #urbanfarming #urban #urbanorganicgardener #thehappygardeninglife #growsomethinggreen #hydrovegan #garden #homegrown #theseedcollection #seedsnow #seedaddic #gardenactivist #lobotany #greengarden_tr #gardenersofinstagram #secretgarden #bahçe #urbangardenersrepublic #organicgardenermag #pipmag #gardeningaustralia #springgarden #turkishgarden #gardenlove #mutfakgram #flowersofinstagram #lovegrowsinthisgarden #blackeyedpea #broadbeans

A photo posted by Ozlem Andogan Gulhan ( on

I pick them young, before the pod becomes tough and woody. String the beans and boil to just tender but still leave them fairly crunchy. Don’t overcook them as they become mushy.  Once boiled, take them out and place them in cold water to stop the cooking process. Saute some garlic (optional – add chili for heat)  in olive oil, add the beans and toss them around. Add some vinegar, salt and pepper and toss them until all combined. Place in a serving dish, garnish with coriander/cilantro and spring onions and enjoy with a dollop of natural yogurt.

When picked more mature, I add the raw beans to salads, make a broad bean hummus, put them in casseroles, soups etc. Perfect and so versatile!.

8. It looks like you are gardening in an urban, backyard setting. How do you rotate your crops in a limited growing space? Or do you?

Yes, I am an urban backyard gardener and no, I don’t have much room to rotate, so I have to make sure my soil is healthy before each season.  The beans that I grow in winter, I chop up and dig them into the soil, add sheep manure and other household scraps to get the soil nice and rich for spring planting.  Once these are added I rest the soil anywhere between 2-4 weeks before before planting.  

9. What percentage do you grow from seed? Do you start all of your seeds in the garden or do you have somewhere to grow them indoors?

First season I grew 90% form seedlings, gifted by family and friends or brought from my local nursery.  The tromboncino squash/zucchini was one of the vegetables that I grew from seed! This year 80% was from seed, mostly saved from my own seeds and some store bought new varieties I wanted to try and grow. My goal is to be 100% self sufficient in growing my own food!

What a gorgeous #autumn day in #melbourne once again! ☀️??Hope you are all having a wonderful #saturday ??? my #saturdays are filled with taking my youngest to tennis competition in the morning and violin orchestra practice in the afternoon ??? busy but have so much fun cheering her on! ?? In between, a walk around the garden to find that my #lettuce seeds are sprouting! ?? another first for me! ?????? #happygardener ???#lovemygarden ???????????? ?? ??? #thehappygardeninglife #urbanorganicgardener #urbangardenersrepublic #theseedcollection #organicforlife #seeds #seedsow #seedsnow #seedaddict #growing #growyourownfood #organicgardener #nopesticides #garden #gardeningtips #gardenactivist #turkey #turkiye #instagardeners_feature #bahcivan #growsomethinggreen

A photo posted by Ozlem Andogan Gulhan ( on

I don’t have any indoor space, so I germinate all my plants outdoors. I am a big fan of sowing directly into the garden beds. However, this can be quite challenging with the weather in Melbourne!  For example,  this season, spring was unusually cool, therefore some plants took longer to germinate. Some plants I delayed in sowing and some didn’t make it at all! Happy days!! HaHa!! I guess all gardeners face similar challenges and as gardeners we see miracles in a garden everyday, so we plant again and again, no matter what challenges the weather or the garden throws at us!!

10. I LOVE the picture of the purple garlic you grew – so vibrant! Gardening and cooking go hand-in-hand. What is your favorite variety of garlic to grow for cooking?

I even surprised myself with the success of my garlic last season! I’m certainly no expert and I don’t have enough garden beds to dedicate to growing garlic alone, so I planted them in a few beds, between other vegetables.  They thrived under these conditions and also acted as pest control! Win win!!

I’ve only ever grown one variety, therefore I can’t compare to others.  This purple garlic variety I grew was brought from a local farmer’s market.  A lot of people wanted to know the variety after I posted my pics on Instagram!  After researching, I believe them to be Purple Stripe variety called Dungunski.  They are a really good all rounder, perfect for roasting or using raw in salads and dips.

11. What do you use to stake your gorgeous tomato plants?

How I love growing tomatoes!! Wish everyone could taste a homegrown tomato! Honestly, they would never go back to a supermarket, to purchase a tomato ever again!!

I use bamboo sticks for smaller varieties and natural timber that my husband cut and prepared for the taller plants. This is no easy task, as they can get out of hand, if like me, you let them grow wild.

Hello lovely people! ??? hope your all having a wonderful day! ??☀️??? . Don’t you think tomato vines can get out of hand very quickly!!? ??Yesterday, I was clearing and cleaning one of the tomato patches and underneath all the leaves and branches I found these beauties!! ???? . PRINCIPAL BORGHESE is an Italian heirloom yielding clusters of fruit in abundance. They are perfect for sun-drying, roasting and their rich tomato taste makes a beautiful sauce?????? . Thank you to all those who have joined me in celebrating my new account name. Im really overwhelmed with all your love and support! To join use #lovegrowsinthisgarden and make sure you also tag me in your posts so I can find you! ????????? . Lots of love Ozlem ??? . . . . . . . . . . . #instagardeners_feature #urbanfarming #urban #urbanorganicgardener #thehappygardeninglife #growsomethinggreen #hydrovegan #garden #homegrown #theseedcollection #seedsnow #seedaddic #gardenactivist #lobotany #greengarden_tr #gardenersofinstagram #secretgarden #bahçe #urbangardenersrepublic #organicgardenermag #pipmag #gardeningaustralia #mutfakgram #summerveggies #growyourownfood #organicgardener #epicgardening #tomato #italianheirloom

A photo posted by Ozlem Andogan Gulhan ( on

12. How much of your harvests do you preserve for later? Any favorite recipes you want to share?

For me a big part of growing my own food is the pleasure of sharing with family, friends and neighbours. I’m so grateful that I can grow and share fresh vegetables that not only feeds and nourishes my family, but can be shared with others who appreciate fresh organically grown food.

I freeze a lot of the vegetables like peas, broad beans, borlotti beans, leafy greens etc… I even grilled and froze some eggplant and okra last season. I like to freeze a lot of tomatoes, which I cook with in the  winter months and turn into pasta sauce, pizza sauce etc. Last season my pepper/capcicum harvest was huge!! I preserved them by making capsicum paste, which was the sweetest and most delicious I ever taster. But I could be biased!! HaHa!!

I also like to to make pickled vegetables that include cabbage, cauliflower, green and red tomatoes, capsicum, peppers, chili and garlic.

My red capsicum/pepper paste recipe was delicious, so if you want to give it a go here it is:

  1. Roast the red pepper and capcicum with some garlic and chili (chili optional – use as little or as much as you want depending on your heat tolerance) with a little olive oil. No sugar as the vegetables are naturally sweet! Cook in the oven until the skin becomes charred. Take out the vegetables and save the juices in pan.
  2. Place the capcicum/peppers in a container and tightly seal the lid. Leave for 20 – 30 minutes. This process allows the skin to separate from the vegetable and the skin comes off easily.
  3. Place the peeled peppers/capsicums, chili and garlic, together with the juices left over from roasting, into a food processor and blender until it becomes smooth and creamy.
  4. Transfer into a pot and bring to boil, turn down and simmer until it becomes a paste like consistency.  This can take up to 30 minutes to an hour depending on the amount of capcicum/peppers used.
  5. Place in a sterile jar and enjoy!

Thanks so much for sharing your love for gardening with us, Ozlem – it’s contagious!


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