Jono Clarke | Chef, Caterer, Proprietor

Lucious Food Store, Te Atatu Peninsula, Auckland, New Zealand

‘I love cooking fresh – its that unmistakable taste that food fresh from your garden has….most produce from shops has already lost it..’

Jono Clarke Chef, Caterer, Proprietor | Lucious Food Store, Te Atatu Peninsula, Auckland, New Zealand

My garden is 3 raised beds and a few fruit trees – apple, plum, peach, feijoa, grapefruit, guava, Kaffir lime, macadamia – in a ½ acre plot close to the Waitemata harbor. I tried to change the clay soil but it was too hard so I ended up adding loads of garden mix and growing in that.

I always plant the same things – tomatoes, garlic, beetroot, strawberries, spinach, rocket – things that look after themselves. Usually I’m out there about 20 minutes per week but it changes with the seasons. My kids sometimes help out and get stuck in, they like picking the plums and have given up ripping the baby apples of the trees ‘cause I’ve growled at them enough!

I guess I owe my gardening interest to my auntie and uncle who shared a house with us when I was a kid growing up in Devonport, they always had veggies and I’d help them out now and then.

Citrus fruit seem to grow really well here in parts of the garden that don’t get water-logged in winter whilst Avocadoes have really sucked year round. My planting philosophy is one of ‘natural selection’ – if I plant it and it grows – awesome. If it doesn’t do so well I’m not going to much effort into trying to save it or plant it again. I get slugs and snails here so every now and then I get out there with a torch and pull them off.

My favourite thing is a garlic crop every year. As a chef, my garden gives me an important connection to the seasons. At Luscious we change our menu to include seasonal fruit and vegetables and my garden gives me a window onto what’s going on.

I have a Dutch hoe that I probably use the most out there – it saves me bending over.

My greatest success so far has been some apple cider I made two summers ago. I used a simple recipe and it was delicious. I made 15 bottles and everyone I gave it to said ‘Wow that’s fxxxing amazing’ – it was!