About My Garden
We bought our house brand new in 2007 as part of a new subdivision. There are still houses being built in the area, although there are not too many vacant blocks left. Before the subdivision, the land was used for horses. What we bought was literally a house, with a gravel driveway and not much else.
Of course, at the time, Mrs Non Gardener and I didn’t have a lot of time to worry about the outside (we were both high-level hospitality management), and the inside was brand new, so required little, or no time.
After a false start, which amounted to me trying to dig in the middle of Winter, and hopelessly mowing weeds every week (while our immediate neighbour has immaculate lawns), we decided to bite the bullet and spend some money.
We found a reasonably cheap startup landscaper. We paid him to strip the ‘grass’ back and lay some imported soil and lawn seed.
We also had a fence built on either side of the house for privacy and to keep our toddler penned in. To finish the job, they paved the driveway and steps up to the front door.
Now we had a good base to start from. If only we were gardeners!
Initially, our “garden” was built from necessity.
Before we had our fences built, I planted three rosemary plants across the front gap, to act as a hedge. Not knowing what I was doing, I simply dug a trench across in what had to be the hardest ground ever. I put the plants in, one on each side (pink) and one in the middle (blue). For whatever reason, the blue one didn’t last more than a couple of weeks. Three years later, we’ve lost another one to disease.
Our property backs on to the major route to the south of the state, so we wanted to get some privacy and noise reduction. We had varying degrees of success with pottosporums – half died and the other half are stunted.
This was about the time I came to the revelation that we should be planting according to the land, not forcing plants upon it. We found some native burgundy plants for $30 each. They are thriving! However, it could be some years before they grow to their full potential.
Before we had the lawn done, I attempted a very small plot, where I planted some potatoes and onions. I already knew about spuds, as I’d seen my parents do it plenty of times – get the old spuds out of the pantry, cut them up into pieces with at least one shoot per piece, then bury them in the dirt shoot upwards. Easy. The onions I bought from the nursery – I just followed the instructions on the label.
When the lawn was done, I had to start again. It actually took a long time before we got going.
We decided that we wanted an edible garden. This meant everything: vegetables, herbs and trees. We started with a Bay tree (we love curries) and we already had the rosemary.
Fast forward to today. Trees include bay, lime, lemon, orange, apple, blueberry, nectarine and two hazelnuts (although, sadly, these must go as our daughter is allergic to nuts). Vegetables are snow peas, lettuce, tomatoes, potatoes. Herbs are rosemary, oregano, thyme, vietnamese mint and coriander. There are also raspberries and strawberries.
After the berries went in, we decided that it was time to provide for ourselves. The food is amazing, what little we have. So it’s time to step it up and get into some serious production.
There are some corrugated iron, raised garden beds on order. They sit 40cm off the ground. These offer great drainage and save our backs. Raised beds can be seen as individual gardens, so planning crop rotation and companion planting is simple.
I just bought some heritage/heirloom seeds from the local garden centre. Some of the varieties date back to the 17th century. Initially, we will be planting beans, carrots, onion and peas together (beans draw out the nitrogen, which carrots love and the onion keeps carrot-loving bugs away).
Eventually, we will have 6 – 8 garden beds, each 1.4m x 2.4m. To live mostly off our own vegetables, it’s necessary to grow a lot. Our small plot of potatoes went within a week!
Over the next year, you can follow me as I build and harvest and learn. There will be lots of mistakes and trial and error. Hopefully, there will be a lot of food as well!