We gathered in Heather’s garden on a warm and sunny Sunday morning for our last swap & share of the year. Neighbours brought onion and tomato seedlings, potatoes, cucumbers, garlic, zucchinis, walnuts and brazil nuts, gardening books, home-made Christmas cards, seeds, herbal teas and lavender sachets.
The garden is a patchwork of lawn, vegetables, potted fruit trees and flowers. It is a peaceful, ordered space, beautiful in its simplicity. Although this garden makes growing a bountiful amount of food appear effortless, we all know better.
Half the backyard’s original lawn was removed to make way for several raised vegetables beds. These now grow a variety of summer vegetables and herbs – zucchinis, onions, cucumbers, silver-beet, tomatoes, lettuces, eggplant and capsicums.
The raised beds, constructed from a variety of materials – left over building bricks, corrugated steel and sturdy recycled plastic – are surrounded by soft paths covered with sawdust.
A simple structure provides shade over the vegetables and fruit trees during hot summer days. It can be easily removed and packed away for the rest of the year.
Four lucky chickens free-range in a large, enclosed run. A central, mature fig tree provides shade throughout the hot summer months. The coop is positioned to shelter the birds from the strong west-southerly winds.
Fruit trees and herbs grow together in half wine barrels on the edge of the vegetable garden. Heather has plans for more fruit trees and wants to experiment with espalier. Having already lost half the lawn, her husband is understandably hesitant about this new project. Yet fellow gardeners strolling around this garden already know that, in the end, patience and reason will prevail.
Over the summer months, many of us will be busy bottling and preserving an abundant harvest. There were hints of special recipes for tomato sauce and someone suggested we could perhaps organise a community bottling day.