Passionate greenthumb Markos Dymiotis will open up his garden to the public next weekend as part of Australia’s Open Garden scheme.

Mr Dymiotis, who migrated to Australia 55 years ago, said this is an opportunity to show people how to grow organic food, as well as demonstrating the benefits of sustainable living and a Mediterranean diet.

His garden, in Melbourne’s Hampton, grows “all the normal Greek things,” Mr Dymiotis said, elaborating to list them as hot chili peppers, capsicum, tomatoes, four or five varieties of beans, dill, oregano, basil, mint, Greek sage, thyme, parsley, purslane and a “few other things”.

Mr Dymiotis uses no pesticides or chemicals, instead covering his crops with netting to ward off birds, insects and pests.

By growing vegetables, green house emissions are also reduced, Mr Dymiotis said.

“In growing our own vegetables we’re using body energy instead of tractors and machinery, then there’s less processing, no chemicals used, so we’re lessening the impact on the environment and land-clearing,” he said.

However, Mr Dymiotis said politicians need to change current policies protecting wild-life.

“Possums, which are protected, do considerable damage to my fruit and trees. By encouraging possums and wildlife to come into the city they’re destroying the environment, preventing people from growing their own vegetables and thus doing more damage.”

Mr Dymiotis insists he’s no expert, just keen to learn.

“I have a lot of teachers here in Australia; the Greeks and Italians are the master practitioners. I join them all the time, I collect information and I learn from them,” he said.

By opening up his garden Mr Dymiotis said he is encouraging others to give gardening a go.

“I’m spreading the word. Absolutely anybody can grow vegetables, it’s not exclusive to the old Greeks and Italians; people have always grown their own vegetables in Australia.”

Mr Dymiotis, who also makes wine and bakes his own bread in an outdoor wood-fire oven, said healthy living comes from simplicity.

“The beauty of the Mediterranean diet is the cooking is simple; a lot of meals consist of no-cooking, a lot of bread, olives, tomato, salads,” he said.

Time poor people don’t have to grow vegetables, Mr Dymiotis said, however everyone should give preference to unprocessed, fresh food.

“Go to the supermarket but don’t concentrate on highly processed and packaged food,” he said. “The health benefits of a Mediterranean diet originate from unprocessed, fresh whenever is appropriate, real everyday food of Greece and the Mediterranean, and these benefits are environmental, financial and health-related.”

In his fourth time opening up his garden to the public, Mr Dymiotis is expecting a good turn-out.

“That’s an understatement,” he joked, “the first time I had 1600 people, then three years later it was 2500 people from all over Victoria. You just never know!”

The weekend will feature demonstrations on gardening, making salads, bread and wine-making as well as compost making, an information desk on the Herb Society of Victoria and a large salvia collection.

Visit Markos’ garden at 21 Barnett St, Hampton, on Saturday February 5 and Sunday February 6, between 10am and 4pm. Entry costs $6.