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My Garden

In our family, I am largely responsible for the back garden (which produces most of the fruit, berries and vegetables). Now that the boys have grown up the back garden has been reshaped from a productive+play area to just productivity. So, I'm progressively working through a plan to convert the back garden into more of a permaculture setup.

In addition to the back garden, Dawn has allowed me to sneak a few edibles into the front garden. This includes one of the pomegranates, two espaliered apples, the two cherries, two peaches, the blueberry bushes, 15 asparagus plants and about 15 rhubarb crowns. Hardly anything, really.


After a major rework over January and July of 2017, the vegetable garden is now made up of six raised beds, made out of redgum sleepers. Each bed has the external dimensions of 0.4m high, 1.20m wide and 4.8m long. As the sleepers are 75mm thick, the internal area is 4.8 sq.m, and the total areable area is c. 29 sq.m. In summer this produces most of the vegetables we need. I'm still working on getting the succession planting right for winter (although the trick seems to be to plant brassicas much earlier than one can believe, in February!), and it still gets a bit too cold in Melbourne for things to do well in the main winter months. In addition, the sun drops down behind a plum tree to the north so about half of the garden bed (which runs East-West) is in shadow for much of the winter.

Each zone of the vegetable garden is used for compatible plants for a single year. This plant group is then moved to the next bed to the right (West) for the following year. This both reduces pest buildup (as part of our commitment to organic gardening), and enables plants to be matched with the right nutrient levels (which change over time - the acid levels build up and need to be reset with lime, and nitrogen content needs to be boosted by legumes and green manure). The resulting table below is based on the ideas of Peter Cundall, the now retired host of Gardening Australia on the ABC, augmented by additional thoughts from Julian Blackhirst, head gardener at the Garden of St Erth, and somewhat compromised by my desire to grow more tomatoes than a single bed in any given year. The left-hand end of the table is the East end of the garden, the right-hand end of the table is the West, and the Sun tracks around to the North. Each year the crop grown moves to the right in early Spring. The Green Manure gets sown in two beds: in preparation for the Tomatoes and also as part of the main six-year replenishment phase.

Bed 1

Autumn: Sow Green Manure crops

Early Spring: Dig in Green Manure

Spring: Plant Peas, Beans

Summer: Plant Brassicas (Cauliflower, Cabbage, Brussel Sprouts)

Goal: Replenish Nutrients

Bed 2

Autumn: Add lime, Mulch
All Year: Alliums (Onions/Garlic/Leeks

Goal: Meet needs of Light feeders

Bed 3

All year: Root Crops and Asian Vegetables

Meet needs of Light feeders

Bed 4

Late Spring: Tomatoes, Capsicums, Basil

Goal: Meet needs of Heavy feeders

Bed 5

Early Spring: Dig in Green Manure

Late Spring: Tomatoes and Corn

Goal: Meet needs of Heavy feeders

Bed 6

Spring: Sweetcorn, Cucurbits (cucumbers, squash, zuccini)  

Autumn: Sow Green Manure crops

Goal: Meet needs of Heavy feeders

Fruit and Berries

Pome fruit

Stone Fruit





Recently, we've branched out into a small nuttery - five hazelnuts (needed because of the Byzantine complexities of hazelnut cross-pollination - A pollinates B, but B won't pollinate A, so you need C which might be pollinated by B and if you are really lucky will then pollinate A). We've gone for:

and we have recently planted a:

I'd love to have a walnut, but they get too big and I don't have space.


The family poultry collective currently consists of five hens (or 'chooks' in Australian English):

Previous chooks include:

We also normally have a Welsumer and sometimes an Ancona, but our flock is currently large enough. We won't add any more chooks until the numbers drop a bit lower. We can then introduce the new girls in one go. It only disrupts the pecking order once and makes it easier for the new arrivals.

The revelatory change for 2019 was the introduction of a treadle chook feeder. Ours looks a bit like this, but without the internal grate. Wastage has plummeted and the local Indian Mynah population now has to find food elsewhere.