Tuesday, November 6, 2012

So what's in your garden?

We have been at this house for an amazing 14 years, renting from our neighbours family (all except the landlady surround us and can see into the garden from various angles).
When we moved in there was very little vegetation apart from a fig, a half dead apple tree (which died), grape vines stretching out across garden from their spot down the back, and a pair of loquats (one of which also died). The previous tenants didn't go outside much or open the windows, despite the number of pets it smelt t like they had in here.

We had a fairly clean slate, and did warn the landlords that we were rabid gardeners. Paul and I had both done our permaculture certificates not long before and we were keen to grow.

If we had realised we were going to be here for so long, we would have planted more fruit trees into the ground. A couple of large shady trees were put in, one of which, Gleditsia Sunburst, is getting a bit too large, but we both love it heaps, and the Paulownia, to be cut down every year or three to reduce height and theoretically allow us to somehow dig it up or poison it before we leave.

In the interests of creating an ark to take with us when we eventually manage to leave the city, most of our useful and edible plants are in pots. Having said this, there are areas where vegetables and herbs have been grown in the ground for some time. The food growing areas have been improved over time with manures, minerals, biochar and depth added with rescued potting mix from a couple of nurseries I've worked at.  If something is edible it gets looked after, if its ornamental it has to be tough enough to not need very much water in summer.

Therefore we have an orchard worth of potted fruit trees and small edibles, many types of succulents and other hardy ornamentals in pots, vegetable and herb beds and the aquaponic set-up. A few bamboos and other long-living trees in pots are also part of the ark of biodiversity we keep for the future. Around the edges of the garden are a variety of natives, mostly Grevilleas and some local species to invite local birdlife in.

Birdbaths are also scattered around (although strangely all lined up from the back window where I sit now, so I can see any bird action at any of them), for insects and birds to drink from. Always place a stick or rock into birdbaths to enable any insects to climb back out and change the water often to stop bacterial build-up which may cause birds to get sick.

Eating food from your own back garden is such a simple joy. Seeing the changes as time goes by is always interesting and there is always something new going on. Our garden is our sanctuary from the rest of the world.