Anna Leask is senior police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Dig this

With NZ's only gardening show Get Growing returning tonight, Anna Leask chats to the new duo hoping to grow green thumbs.

Lee-Anne and Chris Coopey with Get Growing host Lynda Hallinan and dog Benny. Photo / Supplied
Lee-Anne and Chris Coopey with Get Growing host Lynda Hallinan and dog Benny. Photo / Supplied

Until now, Auckland couple Lee-Anne and Chris Coopey haven't been all that successful in growing their own veges. Their current patch has bunches of silverbeet - which they aren't all that fond of - but otherwise hasn't produced much more than a handful of crops here and there.

But all that is set to change soon because Lee-Anne and Chris will learn the tricks of the vege trade on the new season of Prime's "back to basics" gardening show Get Growing, which returns tonight.

During the 10-week series the Coopeys will be given practical advice on how to adopt a more self-sufficient lifestyle by establishing a home vege garden.

The show is hosted by gardening guru Lynda Hallinan, and has input from experts Heather Tait and Fiona Katavich.

The trio will give the Coopeys hands-on lessons on what grows where and how, as well as clever ideas on pest management, composting and garden management - from seeds to harvest.

The couple will also be given tasks to complete each week in their bid to transform their garden into an edible wonderland.

The Coopeys bought their first home, which they share with their dog Benny and cat Oscar, in West Auckland three years ago and say establishing a decent vege garden was the next thing on their "to do" list.

"We're excited about the project and having Lynda to show us how to do it," Lee-Anne says. "Any questions we have she can answer and give us really good advice to kickstart our growing career."

The couple both work full time. Chris is a plumber and Lee-Anne a personal assistant for an accounting company, so they have to fit in their tasks and filming during weekends.

"The first week was all about the design process," reveals Lee-Anne. "We looked at what we have and what we can work with."

The major decision that came out of it was establishing the vege garden in the front yard - a concept the couple had to get their heads around.

"It was quite strange because it's such a small area compared to the backyard. But Lynda had some good points. And, if you want your veges to grow you have to plant in your sunniest spot," admits Lee-Anne.

The first task the couple were given was to get their greenhouse in place. Once that was done it was time to start painting the wooden planks that will border the raised garden.

Next week the couple rip up their front yard and get the beds ready for planting.

The couple were also asked to make a wishlist of everything they wanted to grow.

They said they wanted the garden to inspire them when it came to cooking - and make their busy lives easier by cutting down the time and money they would ordinarily spend at the supermarket.

Chris has asked for an Asian-themed area where he can grow bok choi, coriander and garlic to enhance his cooking. Lee-Anne is looking forward to having a big herb garden and trying her hand at things she has never grown before, including eggplant, capsicums and artichokes.

They also want to extend their growing to fruit and are planning a small orchard of eight fruit trees in the back garden, as well as a chicken coop.

Surprisingly, they both grew up with fresh veges on the dinner table - Chris' family had a small market garden and Lee-Anne grew up on a farm.

"Doing this show will get Chris and I back into something we've loved," says Lee-Anne.

"We want it to become part of our daily routine and have the veges in it inspire our cooking, rather than jump in the car and go somewhere to buy things."

Chris says the hard work involved in getting their garden up and going was not an issue. "We're doing more than the minimum because we want it to be nice. We've done all the stuff we initially wanted to do to the house and we got to the 'what shall we do now?' stage. It's good having the professionals come in and we're really happy about letting someone loose on the garden and seeing what they come up with."

Get Growing, Season 2 on Prime, Sundays 7pm.

- NZ Herald

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