Head to the bottom of the Ryan’s garden, you won’t find fairies but you will French beans. And mint. And tomatoes. And baby spinach.
Pottering about in the veggie patch and then cooking using the produce is the TV personality and Westinghouse advocate’s favourite family activity.
While Beau’s daughter Remi, 8, did have a fairy garden of her own, the former rugby star says that trend didn’t last long – unlike her love of their herb and vegetable garden – and that’s transferred to spending time cooking in the kitchen.
“I don’t really understand fairy gardens. She had one for a little while but compared to a garden that has produce you can plant, smell, taste, pick and cook with, it feels pretty pointless,” says Beau, adding, “Remi gets pumped by the herb garden.”
The Ryan’s planted their own vegetable patch at home, inspired by a footy mate, who’d done the same with his young family. “I do work a lot, but otherwise we are homebodies and try to make our home life a family experience all the time. The vegetable garden does just that,” Beau says.
Here, Beau shares his tips for planting one and then cooking it produces with kids – what he says is the key to raising the next gen of keen cookers.
Size doesn’t matter
We’ve got a good-sized patch for our family of four, but if you haven’t got the space, some planter boxes or large pots on the balcony can provide the goods. Just be careful to choose plants that don’t go bonkers and takeover everything. We’ve learnt that the hard way.
Choose age appropriate jobs
The kids love being given little jobs. Jesse is three so he’s great at picking things from the garden and mixing things in bowls. He’s inquisitive so better out of the kitchen, because he’s always trying to steal stuff from the fridge and pantry. Remi is eight and actually quite patient. She’s great at taking her time flouring and crumbing – and doing baking and prepping for air frying with Kara. She’s especially good at one of our favourite family air fried recipes spinach and mozzarella arancini with roast tomato sauce.
Our kids love easy-to-grow vegetables and herbs that give quick results they can see, touch and feel, to keep them interested. We also pay attention to when to plant what. Heading into autumn and winter we’ll be planting some spinach, onion, carrots, peas, cauliflower and broccoli. Having it fresh from the garden is the chef’s kiss for my mum’s steak diane recipe which is another go-to weekend family recipe.
Cooking is a family affair for us and I’m happiest at home. Remi sees Kara, my mum and me in the kitchen cooking for family and friends, which creates memories. Remi’s the one who likes being involved and genuinely wants to help, but to encourage Jesse more, my dad got him his own apron, which he loves to wear.