Permaculture Systems with Organic Gardener Christine
(13 October 2014)
I recently visited home garden of fellow community plot holder Christine, and was suitably impressed with the amount of work done on what was originally a barren, steep block of land full of builder’s rubble and not much else. She has unknowingly utilised permaculture principles by using what’s around her to create a harmonious, integrated home and garden space. She is a big believer in growing hardy plants that tolerate Canberra and surround’s often challenging seasons in order to create a thriving, low maintenance environment.
Amongst her many passions, Christine breeds mini lop rabbits, whose manure and antics have transformed both her home and community gardens. To say their accommodation is Taj Mahal like is a gross understatement – when I arrived I followed a lush, meandering path that opened up to an established bunny oasis including purpose-made play areas and a range of overhanging deciduous and evergreen shrubs for their comfort in all weathers.
All herbs and leafy greens are located close to the kitchen entrance for convenience and all other veggies are grown at her COGS plots, which she tends to every couple of days in the warmer months (less often during winter). She decided to get involved in community gardening as her home garden is now quite shady and existing trees take a lot of much-needed nutrition and water from the soil that veggies require to prosper.
There is impressive – yet simple and economical - north-facing microclimate for growing all veggie seedlings for the upcoming season. It is situated in front of a warming brick wall with large glass windows, and is protected by surrounding shrubs and small deciduous trees. There are plans to erect shade sail above it during summer so area can be further utilised as shade house. Seed used is from previous year’s crops, which she finds have increased resistance to local weather and pest problems in comparison to shop-bought counterparts (as do I with seeds I have saved).
On the fertiliser front, her adorable rabbits supply manure and nutrition to all garden beds – and in return - are lavished with leafy greens and other fodder plants such as tagasaste (Lucerne tree – a popular multi-purpose plant used extensively in permaculture systems). Silt is also collected from water feature and is used to make liquid fertiliser for all intents and purposes.
Christine shares her copious amounts of produce with extended family (believe me this is not an exaggeration – I regularly view her community plots with envy and find myself dreaming up recipes I would create if said bounty was mine), and exchanges green chicken feed and holiday care with her daughter in return for yummy ‘happy hen’ cackle-berries.