Would you think it is possible to grow 23 different fruiting trees and shrubs, have chickens and bees in a townhouse garden on a standard dual occupancy block? Well, that is exactly what Patricia has achieved in 9 years. Including the strip along one side of the driveway, the productive area is about 72 square metres. And all without chemical use. Clever planning has been the key to productivity in this attractive garden. Along the sunny driveway are a range of vegetables – lettuce, peas, garlic and brassicas and herbs. The standout feature is an avocado tree laden with fruit which satisfies the household for the whole year. In a garden bed near the front door grow fruit trees, some planted as duos (2 similar trees about 20 cm apart) – Williams and Nashi pears, an apricot and peach – mixed with herbs and decorative species. The close planting limits tree size, aids cross pollination and enhances fruit production. Other fruit trees and shrubs including almond, Granny Smith apple, Moorpark apricot, Hass avocado, bay tree, blood orange, blueberry, black Genoa fig, sultana grape, grapefruit, macadamia, olive, two plum trees and pomegranate, grow in various locations around the outside of the house.
Full sun access on the roof at the front of the house creates an excellent location for the solar panels.
Behind the garage, in the shade are two large compost bays. Along the back fence are raised beds with plants that don’t mind shade in winter – strawberries, leafy greens and potatoes – and those that are dormant then such as asparagus. The area receives sun in summer so can then be used for other vegetables. A very productive beehive sits near the back fence. It is managed by the hive owner who shares the honey with Patricia – last year she received 10 kg. Fortunately, the queen is not aggressive so the bees don’t seem to be anxious to sting – Patricia has never been stung despite carrying out weeding and planting near the hive and walking past it regularly.
Along the western fence is the chicken run – very long and about 1 metre wide – housing four bantams which don’t require a large space to roam. They produce enough eggs for the family and when they lay fewer as they age, a new hen is added. On a small patio nearby are a range of citrus – several types of lemon, mandarin and blood orange growing in large terracotta pots.
Pests are dealt with by companion planting such as marigolds with tomatoes, and by mixing flowering plants like nasturtiums and those with aromatic leaves such as chives between the vegetables. Another strategy is to plant brassicas and greens later in the season when many pests don’t seem to be so active.
Scattered around the garden is an array of re-purposed items, often gleaned from hard rubbish collections. A wire mattress frame serves as a trellis for peas and metal containers double as pots. Various wire structures serve to protect plants from birds and other found objects contribute whimsy and interest.
Fertility is maintained by compost and organic chicken and cow manure mulched with organic sugar cane two or three times per year.
The nature strip is also lush with a mixture of Australian native plants like dwarf acacia, pig face and correa and others that are hardy, such as rosemary, so that no extra watering is required.
Altogether a healthy, productive garden which does considerable benefit to the planet and little harm.