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Meet: Matthew Hayden, former cricketer, cook and organic gardener

The family. Photo - Matthew Hayden

After years of cricket, Matthew Hayden has decided to focus on his passions and dedicate time and energy to his garden.

You retired from international cricket in 2009. What are you doing now?

After years of cricket training and teamwork, I’ve decided to focus on my passions and dedicate time and energy to my little corner of the world. The farmer in me wants to reconnect to the land, the cook wants to grow his own vegies and the dad wants his kids to know where their food comes from.


How did you begin the garden?

We enlisted the help of garden designer Nicole Moon who guided the project on and off screen during a series called ‘Homeground’ on the Lifestyle Channel. Her design draws from permaculture, where one works with rather than against nature. It’s a harmonious integration of landscape and people providing food, energy and shelter in a sustainable way.


What are you doing in the garden now?

I can smell spring on the air, and it’s a huge time of year. I’m harvesting the last of the winter harvest and gearing up for summer. In the subtropics you can start planting zucchini, tomatoes, Asian greens, beans and chives now.


What do your children like to do in the garden?

The kids learn the values of responsibility and respect by collecting the eggs each morning. Thomas, the youngest, enjoys pottering and planting (especially anything he can eat straight from the bush like tomatoes and beans). Grace likes the animal husbandry side of things and the company of birds. Josh, the eldest, is more concerned with the science of how worms work and why the compost breaks down.


Feeding the chooks. Photo - Matthew Hayden

What’s your favourite part of the garden?

I love getting all my cricket mates together and having a barbie around the fire pit. I’ll cook up something like lamb with garlic and rosemary and salt-rolled potatoes in their jackets with garlic chives and crème fraiche.


What do you worry about?

So many friends of mine have had to deal with cancer and I wonder about the influence of chemicals on crops. So I grow a chemical-free garden.


Corten steel edged beds add height and shape. Photo - Matthew Hayden

What’s your favourite recipe?

Come autumn my tomato harvest will go into a never-ending supply of home-grown tomato sauce. My sure-fire method is to fry off some onions, garlic, oregano and rosemary quickly in a stock pot and then in goes the chopped tomatoes and olive oil. It makes a thick tasty tomato sauce, perfect for meatballs. It’s a family favourite around here.


Matthew Hayden is the author of two cookbooks published by HarperCollins, including “The Complete Matthew Hayden Cookbook’.

Text: Linda Ross

About this article

Author: Linda Ross