Time to finally start my journal! The weather here is finally clear, blue skies and cool. One of my most favourite times of the year. There are a huge number of projects going on in my garden and I rotate time between them all – oh to have a body double! Here are some of the garden zones and features we have here:
Micro Gardens: Close to the house and on our verandah are mini gardens I grow in boxes and pots. Some are portable so I can rotate them around to shield them from the weather or get the most sun. Others are making the most of a sunny spot against the house where they are both protected and get the gentle morning sun. I am constantly amazed at what can be produced in micro gardens. I grow vegies and herbs of all kinds, a fruit tree, mulch and flowers. Our kaffir lime tree has been in the same pot for about four years and is absolutely thriving. My focus is on organically growing as much of our own food as possible.
Kitchen Garden: Here I grow a variety of herbs and salad ingredients as well as my ‘pick and pluck’ greens and edible flowers. There are potatoes, asparagus, lemongrass borders for mulch and edible carpets of oregano and thyme that prevent weeds from growing into the garden bed. Currently building new permanent raised garden beds to replace the hay bale ones which have been composted and we’re resting a couple of other garden beds for replanting after hungry corn, zucchini and tomato crops finished.
Herb & Medicinal Garden: I plant a range of herbs that are useful for both culinary and medicinal needs in our home – some useful basics to support our first aid kit and saves money on pharmacy medicines. Some of the uses are we make delicious and healing herb teas, our own pesto, use soothing aloe vera for healing the skin and grind our own lemon myrtle leaves to make seasoned flour or to flavour our cooking.
Orchard: We have a small orchard on our property and grow avocados, macadamia nuts, mandarins, lemon, loquats, bananas, mangoes and guavas. I make my own fruit fly baits and traps and hang these in our trees.
Cut Flowers & Foliage: We grow flowers and foliage which we sell privately and to the Floriculture industry including proteas, gardenias, mock orange, lemon myrtle foliage and also lemon myrtle leaves for the Australian native bush tucker industry.
Pumpkin Patch: A long row of proteas was cleared and sheet mulched for a patch of pumpkins. This has been an extremely productive garden bed although the pumpkins are ‘bed hogs’ and take up a lot of personal space, with no respect for the plants nearby, simply trailing themselves over proteas and growing happily in their branches!
Native wildlife is abundant here: with so many flowers and shrubs, we have a wide range of flowering species that attract bees and beneficial pollinators. Greedy ducks, rainbow lorikeets, magpies and other native birds turn up to be fed morning, noon and night on our back verandah and lawn as if we’re a Bird Cafe! We provide logs and bird houses in a couple of trees for nesting and feel it’s a ‘win-win’ relationship in exchange for the free poultry manure deposited in and around the kitchen garden area and the pest management they take care of for us, eating insects before they devour our edibles.
Seed Saving & Propagating: We collect and save our own heirloom, organic and open-pollinated seeds to maintain diversity and preserve edible varieties of vegies that grow well in our local area.
Garden Design: We have done a design plan using Permaculture principles to make best use of the various zones on our property, take into account weather factors, access, how frequently we visit the different zones and water flow. We maximise vertical space in parts of the garden like our passionfruit vines that adorn the fence and form a living green wall and many tepees and staked gardens for flowering vegies. Raised beds also are a great way to grow many vegies. We love beauty in our garden spaces so garden art plays a role, and in certain areas we focus on particular plants or trees, a water feature or view to draw the eye to something special.
Garden Surplus: When our garden is producing an abundant surplus of organic vegies, fruit or seedlings, we share some with neighbours, sell what we don’t need at local markets, donate seedlings to school gardens in our area and share seeds or cuttings at Transition Town and Permaculture meetings in our community.
Recycling Resources: We have a few compost systems – four worm farms, several compost piles and a bokashi system for food scraps in the kitchen. We reuse all the resources on our property and only buy in mulch or soil when we really need to. Our firewood, compost, mulch and soil all come from utilising free materials in our backyard. Pine cones, fallen twigs, prunings and branches from our trees and shrubs all end up in the fireplace. Gutter leaves and grass clippings are composted along with other garden waste.
The Bigger Picture: When I’m not outdoors in nature’s classroom, I also share my garden experiences and tips in a small gardens blog and publish a community newsletter to help people connect with greener options and become more sustainable.