No Dig Gardening

No-dig gardening has been written about since the mid 1940’s.  I mean just take a look at Albert Guests’ “Gardening Without Digging” (below).  Kinda reminds me a little of myself, standing there in my double breasted suit, smoking a pipe while admiring my garden.

But is was wonderful Esther Dean, who took the concept to the mainstream in the 1970s with her book “No Dig Gardening”, which has sold over 100,000 copies to date.

More recently it’s been promoted as “A new layering system…” or Lasagne Gardening with Patricia Lanza’s book.

 

How to get started?

Firstly you’ll need to assemble some ingredients:

Materials for a border: Straw bales, timber, bricks.  NB: If you’re building a garden over concrete or bitumen you will need boarders at least 30cm high.

Newspaper or cardboard boxes.

Bales of hay- ideally lucerne but straw will do (pea straw is great)

Manure – chicken, cow, pig – I’m not a huge fan of horse manure as it tends to include more weeds.  Would be fine for a deeper bed.

Compost

Potting mix

Water

Step by Step

1. Place your newspaper and/or cardboard in a sturdy wheelbarrow  right where you’re working and fill with water.

2. Mark out the edge of your new garden with your border material

3. Take the now soaked newspaper and place down thickly (the tougher the grass/weeds, the thicker it needs to be)

4. Throw some veggie scraps over the newspaper to encourage worm activity

5. Place down a thick layer of straw (if the straw breaks off into ‘biscuits’ go one layer deep)  approximately 20cm

8. Water well

6. Cover with a good layer of manure – use the ‘hottest’ first e.g. chicken.  Again water well.

7. Cover with another straw layer and follow with with manure, watering between each layer.  Continue until you’ve reached the height of your border.

8. Finish with a final layer of pea straw or sugarcane mulch.

9. Pull aside holes in the top layer of mulch and put in a few handfuls of potting mix.

10. Plant directly into the potting mix and water well.

Here’s a time-lapse clip showing how it’s done.  Maybe turn the volume down though…

 

 

Important Tips!

If you’re planting directly over lawn, mow the law on a very low setting just before starting the newspaper layer

Make sure you remove plastic tape from any cardboard boxes and plastic wrap from magazines.  Staples are fine.

Don’t use waxed vegetable boxes as in most cases it will be a petroleum based wax.

Some permaculture books suggest using old clothing, jeans, bed linen etc. as a sheet mulch for the bottom layer.  In my experience this is no longer the best idea as many of these now contain polyester which won’t break down.

The more thoroughly you can water whilst building the no-dig bed, the less is will sink down afterwards.  It also helps to speed up the composition of all your ingredients.

No dig gardens are better suited to well established seedlings – not seeds or root vegetables.

Now get (no) digging!

Crop Rotation 101

Why bother?

When starting a kitchen garden, we focus a lot on plants and yields.  What do I like to eat?  What do I want to grow?  As time with dirt up your nails increases you tend to get more focused on the soil and its needs – then the plants take care of themselves.  Part of this acknowledgement is realising it’s actually a pretty amazing thing to grow such high nutrient food year after year in plain old ‘dirt’.  But it’s not all a oneway street.  Soil gets depleted of elements and especially the three majors: nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus.  We can work around this natural cycle though, by planting in tune with the soil’s fertility.  Additionally, by moving plant families around, you’re less likely to have problems with soil borne diseases and other pests.

We are family

To effectively use crop rotation we have to understand the different plant families.  Some of our veggies are fairly obviously related e.g. carrot and parsnip.  Some are less so…think potatoes and tomatoes or beetroot and spinach.

Here is a quick run down:

Onion Family (Alliaceae)

Garlic, Leeks, Onions, Shallots

Cabbage Family (Brassicaceae)

Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Kale, Kohlrabi, Mustard, Bok Choy and other asian greens, Radish, Swede and Turnips

Carrot Family (Apiaceae)

Carrot, Celeriac, Celery, Fennel, Dill, Parsley, Parsnip

Potato Family (Solanaceae)

Eggplant, Capsicum, Chillies, Potato, Tomato

Marrow Family (Curcubitaceae)

Cucumber, Zucchini, Melons, Pumpkin, Squash

Bean and Pea Family (Leguminosae/Fabaceae)

Alfalfa, Beans, Clover, Fenugreek, Lupin, Peas

Daisy Family (Compositae/Asteraceae)

Lettuce, Chicory, Endive, Jerusalem Artichoke, Salsify

Now we categorise our veggies according to the parts we eat (basically).

Legume

Bean and Pea Family

Root

Onion Family

Carrot Family

Leaf

Cabbage Family

Daisy Family

Fruit

Potato Family

Marrow Family

Let’s get started

Know we’re armed with all this knowledge we can start to plan our beds.  To start with a four-bed system is a good idea and if you don’t have separate garden beds you can simply divide a large patch into four.  It’s also a good idea to throw a little lime on the soil after the ‘fruit’ season as this will sweeten the soil for root crops.

 

  Season One Season Two Season Three Season Four
Bed One Peas or Beans Leaf Fruit Root
Bed Two Leaf Fruit Root Peas or Beans
Bed Three Root Peas or Beans Leaf Fruit
Bed Four Fruit Root Peas or Beans Leaf

We sow the seeds!

A little about seeds

Seeds are made up of two major parts.  Firstly the embryo which includes the roots and the shoots.  Secondly the food source.  Seeds are so bloody clever they pack their own lunches!

It also explains why seeds and grains are energy-dense sources of food for us big brained mammals.  To grow, seeds need to absorb around 60% of their body weight in water.  Additionally they also need access to air. So when growing seeds it’s a balance between moisture holding growing mediums while also having excellent drainage.  You can assist the water absorbing process by pre-soaking your seeds before planting for a day or so.  Soaking below are some purple king climbing beans.

I tend to only pre-soak large seeds as smaller seeds are too fiddly.

Direct in garden or seed raising mix?

For root vegetables (carrots, beetroot, parsnips etc.) I’ll always sow directly as the large tap root is susceptible to damage when transplanting.  Peas,  beans and corn I’ll also usually sow direct – the large seeds making it a straight forward process.  Most other herbs, brassicas (think cabbages, broccoli asian greens) tomatoes, capsicums, cucumbers…well pretty much everything else, I grow into seedlings before transplanting.

How deep to plant?

It is very tempting to plant seeds deeper than they need to be.  While working for the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation, I found kids always wanted to plant the seeds far too deeply.  It certainly seems to be our default setting.  Generally speaking seeds are planted to the depth of their width.  So broad beans around 1cm while lettuce and cabbage seeds barely need covering.  I dare you to simply spread some lettuce seed across the surface of some seed raising mix and just water without covering.  In around 10 days they’ll germinate and anchor themselves nicely.  We all know how wonderfully weeds grow, and nobody is sowing them at a specific depth.

Caring for seedlings and feeding

Seeds germinate well in dappled light (especially in summer) and this will also prevent the seed raising mix drying out too much.  You will know it’s too shady if seedlings grow ‘leggy’ i.e. thin and tall.  Temperature is the other necessary factor in germination, with most seeds only coming to life when the soil temp is close to 20 degrees.  Professional seedling producers use heat pads to artificially raise the temperature of the soil, leading to subtropical growth in temperate climates.

Use a fine spray of water initially as you don’t want to move the seeds with large drops of water while they’re trying to take root.  A hand-held pump sprayer is perfect.  As mentioned above the seed provides the required nutrition to germinate but once growing a weak liquid feed is a good idea every 10 days using worm juice or a seaweed concentrate.

Where to source seeds

Here are some links to seed providers who specialise in heirloom or old variety open pollinated varieties.  This means you can save the seed year to year and your plants will turn out true to type – something not always possible when saving seed from hybrid plants common in nurseries.

www.diggers.com.au

www.thelostseed.com.au

www.edenseeds.com.au

www.greenpatchseeds.com.au

www.theitaliangardener.com.au

Seed raising mix recipe

Most of these ingredients are readily available at good nurseries or landscaping suppliers (river sand and loam) and will save you lots of money if you’re propagating a lot of your own seeds.

One part river sand

1/2 part vermiculite (this is a naturally forming mineral that is a great insulator and holds moisture)

1/2 part weed free garden loam

1/2 part compost

Handful of blood and bone fertiliser

Mix together and keep in a sealed bucket.  Moisten before use.

Remember you can re-use this seed raising mix after planting out your seedlings by adding it to your next batch – don’t throw it out!

Planning a kitchen garden

We certainly live in times where the perception is to achieve something you have to be moving at a furious pace; report writing, renovating and making sure you respond to friends’ Facebook comments within 15 seconds.  Even relaxation time has to be booked in and analysed: “is this yoga class really giving me spiritual enlightenment?”.

1) Observation

Anyway, give yourself an afternoon off on the next sunny day and get into that comfy chair to simply pay attention to what’s happening in your garden.

In only a few minutes, birds will start to ignore you and you can begin to note the following:

Which way is north, east, south and west?   (Free compass apps are available on most smart phones)

Where are the sunny and shady parts of the garden?

Note any breezes and the direction they’re coming from.  (You can also check for wind damaged trees e.g. missing foliage from strong/salty winds)

Bugs, bees, birds and butterflies.

Where are the eyesores or ugly views?

Take a wander and note dry or wet patches of soil.

Look for trees that may cast a shadow over areas or offer competition for water a nutrients.

Take note of the slope of the ground and where this will direct water during heavy rain.

Pay attention to the types of weeds that have grown over winter.  Tough, woody weeds usually mean poor soil.  Lush green leaves (that you’d probably eat if someone told you it was okay) are signs of fertile soil.

2) Elements

This is the fun bit and often where people start without the knowledge gained in step 1 – Observation.  Think about what you’d like; raised garden beds, a big patch for potatoes/pumpkins, compost heap, worm farm, fruit trees, chook house, asparagus, rhubarb, strawberries or other dedicated perennial bed/s, bee hives, herb patch, sensory garden, edible maze, berries, water tank, potting shed, green house – and the list goes on!  REALLY clever design is where you start to help these elements work together.  For example, including your chook run amongst your fruit trees fertilises the trees, minimises pests and provides shade for the chooks.  Your pumpkin patch may be down hill from your compost heap so its receives lots of nutrient rich run-off during wet weather.  Your potting area may look out over the rest of the yard or kids play area so you can safely garden while still keeping an eye on everything!

3) Right thing in the right place

This is where we use a Permaculture design technique called Zoning.  Basically it means thinking about how often you’ll use the above elements in your day to day living and placing them accordingly.  We start with Zone 1.  This is stuff you access every day such as herbs, picking greens such as lettuce and annual veggies.  You know, stuff you pick and cook or eat straight away.   If you’ve included a chook house, you’ll want part of your zone 1 to include a trip to fetch the eggs and check on your hen’s water and food.  You can see how this zoning exercise will influence your chook house design as wallowing through a muddy chook run to get eggs can soon lose its novelty!  Depending on your needs a clothes line may be a requirement in Zone 1 if you have a big (or young) family and need to hang washing daily.  Again your keen powers of observation from step 1 will let you know which north facing position will allow you to dry your clothes in the sun throughout the year.  I also have my worm farm in Zone 1 as it means food scraps are disposed with as conveniently as just throwing them in the bin.

Slightly less convenient is Zone 2 where you may include fruit trees, berry vines, a potting shed or greenhouse.  Other vegetable beds such as carrots, beetroot that need less TLC than heavy feeding lettuce etc. can be located in Zone 2. In an urban house block, you may have no further need any further zones and indeed a small courtyard or balcony will mean you only need Zone 1!

When designing larger properties the same logic follows with Zone 3 and 4 used for grazing, managed forests or woodlots, bees and other areas not visited every day.   Typically Zone 5 is ‘left for nature’ on large acreage although in an urban setting I often think of the rural land outside the suburbs as my Zone 5.

This idea of Zoning can be used in any from of design when aiming for maximum efficiency.  You can use it to design an office building, a house, a kitchen, and life in general!

4) Work to a timeline 

This is a really valuable step as it acknowledges that creating a kitchen garden isn’t like building a swimming pool, where you have a definite start and finish date.  As food gardeners we really do follow the seasons and that means for example that the time for planting bare root fruit trees has really passed.  Simply note it as a job to do in June/July next year and start working on the soil preparation now.  However now may be the best time to install a greenhouse as it will allow you to establish summer seedlings.  Chickens are often available at point-of-lay currently, so a chook house is another great spring activity.

If you prefer to plan on a laptop rather than paper check out here for a free 30 day trial of a garden planner…although I prefer to work on paper.

Approaching a kitchen garden design needn’t feel like project management.  However taking the time to think things through means you’re less likely to waste time and money, while increasing your chances of having an enormous backyard harvest!

Raising your garden

 

So during the last decade-plus of well below average rainfall, we’ve stopped using a lot of the techniques that assist drainage.  The most effective one is what we’re going to explore today, the raised garden bed.

It’s not just the height of the raised bed that helps with drainage it’s your ability to modify the growing medium (soil) to ensure the right balance of drainage and nutrient holding.  This is of course the holy grail of gardeners all over the world and one that deserves a separate post all of its own.  Having said that, even without the benefits of improved drainage and soil, not breaking your back is a good enough reason alone to look at raised beds!

Materials for raised beds

Over the years, raised beds have become far more sophisticated.  Perhaps they started with off-cuts of fascia or other plank like timber, held in place by tent pegs, rocks or those very handy star-pickets.  Many of Australia’s European migrants built very sturdy brick edged gardens in the 50’s and filled them with as much cow, sheep and chook manure as they could get their hands on.  Brick and stone are of course very durable and can help maintain even soil temperatures.  The main downside is they are expensive and labour and skill intensive.  Additionally you’d better be sure you don’t want to move the bed in the future and pretty much forget it if you’re renting.

The Aussie equivalent of the Mediterranean masonry edging is perhaps the retired galvanised water tank which was too rusty to hold water but fine to angle-grind down to a round garden bed edging.

This ‘recycling an old tank’ idea has now evolved to see tank manufacturers designing raised garden beds with new materials.  Of course the edges need to be folded down or covered with protective stripping to make them safe.  The corrugated looks look good in old and new houses alike, and seems synonymous with Australian homes.

We then move onto timber.  Now I have to confess right from the start that I’m not a big fan of chemically treated timbers.  Everything I know about organic gardening involves increasing your soil biology and diversity to open up the best possible nutrition to your plants.  It makes sense if the soil biology is prevented from rotting the wood over time then your soil must be compromised.  Recently there’s been the introduction of ‘Eco’ type treatments on plantation pine which although seem to be an improvement on the old ‘treated pine’ (which was Copper Chrome Arsenic – CCA ) they still can’t be composted or burnt at the end of their life…and that’s the real test as to whether or not a material can be harmlessly reintroduced back into your garden.  Proceed with caution and read more here if you’re interested.

So what are some other timber options?   Well you can look at untreated plantation pine, such as these boxes which were used for the Grow It! project last year.

They’re cost effective and a great height to work with.  Red gum and rough sawn native hardwood are both excellent, long lasting timbers although knowing how sustainably they were harvested can be challenging.  Hardwood is also a little tricky to work with – heavy and particularly hard on drill bits and saw blades.  Which leads me onto what I think is the champion of raised bed timber – cypress macrocarpa.  Now this isn’t the same cypress you’re starting to see available at hardware stores.  Macrocarpa is an introduced species – a true cypress from North America.  It was used in Australia on farms as wind breaks, but as the trees reach over-maturity they’re being pulled down and often piled up and burned.  A couple of local millers have seen this opportunity and have started producing small quantities of this marvellous stuff.  I love the stuff.

There’s also vintage (or recycled, reclaimed) beds.  I’m a big fan of old apple/potato/onion crates which are about 1.2m square and 0.6m high.  They originate from the fruit and vegetable packing industry and despite being made from untreated pine, have quite a long life.  Here are some slightly lower ones I managed to get hold of from a retired spud farmer.

 

Recently OH&S regulations have seen the move away from timber bins to plastic ones.  Apparently the risk of splinters for supermarket contract staff is too high. Hope my cabbages survive…

 

Anyhow, be sure to grab hold of these vintage timber bins before they all disappear.  I know I’m having to look further to source them…

Breathe Easy!

Why this stuff matters

Astronauts in both U.S. and USSR space programs had been experiencing symptoms such as itchy eyes and skin, chest pain, breathing problems and loads of other allergy-like symptoms.  At the same time due to the energy crisis of the 1970s buildings had become far better insulated whilst also including far more synthetic chemicals in their construction.  Think of benzene in plastics and rubbers, formaldehyde in particle board just to name a couple of nasties which lead to disease, asthma and even cancer.

Importantly, energy efficiency is a hot topic these days and if anything we’ve increased the amount of chemicals in our homes as we choose materials made of synthetic over natural again and again.  The CSIRO currently estimates that this ‘sick building syndrome’ costs us around $12 billion annually!

The original investigator of the NASA report – B.C. Wolverton Ph.D. has gone on to publish and entire book on the subject, which I imagine is a little more readable than the original report and highly recommended if you want to know more.

BC Wolverton

So without further a due here are my top five plants for detoxing your home and supplying fresh oxygen!

Areca Palm (chrysalidocarpus lutescens)

A natural humidifier

areca palm

Golden Pothos or  Native Monstera (epipremnum arum)

Removes formaldehyde, benzene and xylene

golden pothos

 

Boston Fern (nephrolpis exaltata bostoniensis)

Most efficient at removing benzene and formaldehyde

BostonFern

Peace Lily (spathiphyllum)

Excellent at removing benzene

peace lily

Mother in Law’s tongue (sansevieria trifasciata)

Produces oxygen specifically at night time – great for bedrooms and small talk with the inlaws…

MotherinLawTongue

Tips for getting the most out of your indoor plants

  • Don’t overwater – you want to avoid encouraging mould forming in the extra humidity of pooling water etc.
  • Use a quality potting mix and slow release fertiliser
  • Wipe the leaves regularly to remove dust and indoor pollutants
  • Take the plant outside for half a day, once a month
  • Ventilate your house regularly for optimal indoor health for you and your plants
  • Check if plant is toxic if eaten by curious pets before purchasing

So while some things from the 1970s should be left behind (think matching his and hers jumpsuits) indoor plants are a great idea that should be embraced!

matching jumpsuits

What is Permaculture?

About 15 years ago I was participating in after-hours management studies at Deakin Uni.  During a coffee break I found myself talking about veggie gardening as a hobby with one of the other students.  He mentioned that I may be interested in ‘Permaculture’.  While the word was vaguely familiar I had no idea what it meant and was actually a bit put off by the word ‘cult’ in it!

So what’s it all about?  Permaculture was originally the marrying of two words: permanent and agriculture.  The concept evolved out of an intense working relationship between a young Perth student called David Holmgren and his teacher and mentor Bill Mollison, from Tasmania.  They were brought together during a radical environmental design course – radical because it was nearly 40 years ago – in Tasmania.  At the time there was plenty going on to suggest things couldn’t continue at the exponentially frantic pace; an international oil crisis and the hugely controversial Club of Rome report called Limits to Growth.

This course provided fertile ground for the then twenty-something Holmgren who penned the Permaculture concept, which along with Bill’s encouragement and experience became Permaculture One.  Agricultural in the true sense of the word, the first book provided ideas and blueprints that would ensure a culture could sustain itself without fossil fuels and chemical inputs.

Essentially, the pair came up with an idea that we would now call ‘design for sustainability’ – almost 20 years before that term took on its current meaning.

After the first book, David moved to Hepburn Springs (where he still resides) and set about creating a real-life example of Permaculture in action while continuing the intellectual development of Permaculture.  Bill with his big personality and unmatched life experience took Permaculture to the world, publishing several more books and becoming the ‘face of Permaculture’ until recent years.

Far better known overseas than in Australia, Permaculture ideas and concepts continue to filter into the mainstream; think worm farming, no-dig gardens, water tanks, chicken tractors/domes, food forests, passive solar house design, eco villages, no till cropping, herb spirals, bikes and of course organic veggie growing.  Check out these ‘chook domes’ from Africa!

Of course Permaculture didn’t invent these things, it simply provides a framework to link them all together and to help make the most efficient and ethical decisions in the first place.

During the time I’ve been involved in Permaculture education I’ve often had people tell me that “it’s all just common sense!”.  It’s truer than they think.  The origins of Permaculture thinking were largely influenced by pre-industrial long survived cultures.  You see, common sense used to be more common!

But perhaps the most appealing thing I find about Permaculture is that it encourages us to look at positive solutions for what may otherwise be depressing situations.  A very hands-on example, I have a minor leak with a garden tap.  No biggie but given the age of the tap I can see any backyard plumbing is going to cascade (pun intended) into bigger problems.  The alternative of a three figure plumbing bill also doesn’t appeal.   Approaching it with my Permaculture hat on turns the problem into the solution.  Hence I’ve planted mint under the tap which is growing wonderfully thanks to the occasional drip irrigation.  Sure I’ll have the tap fixed when there’s enough work justify getting a plumber to visit but in the meantime I’ve averted problems of unused water pooling, turned waste water into food and beautified a soggy looking part of my yard.

So whether it’s building a classic herb spiral or choosing a bike instead of car, I invite you to explore the evolving world of Permaculture, safe in the knowledge that it’s nothing to do with a cult! Oh, and apologies to anyone called Moonshadow out there…

Portable Gardening

 

Going potty

When I planted these strawberry guavas, I knew a couple of things.  Firstly, I had a house for sale and I wasn’t sure whether the new owners would be as enthusiastic about my little Chilean beauties as I was.  Second, I knew they’d take a few years to produce fruit hence the combination of those factors lead me to get them in some decent pots until they found a permanent garden in the future.  I’ve picked some classic terracotta pots for these as they’re less fickle than high fashion glazed pots.  One thing I’d wish I’d done was to purchase pots with an internal coating to help maintain the moisture.  The neighbouring geraniums are in pots with such a coating and I really notice the way they hold onto their moisture much better.

Pots are also great because you can move them during the year to follow the shade or the sun or the rain depending on what they need.  Citrus and olives love the sun, so they’ll love being backed onto a north facing wall which may have other plants gasping in protest.  Upcoming  heatwave?  Well pots allow you to move everything into the shade for a few days meaning you don’t risk losing them.  Of course they can be quite heavy so only attempt this will the right tools e.g. a sturdy trolley and someone that can manage it (especially during heat waves!)

Knowing when to water

The great thing about containers is the ability for you to control the growing medium.  Generally potting mixes are a safe bet – you’ll notice they’re made up of larger ingredients such as pine bark which make bigger gaps meaning better drainage.  Of course the flip side of this great drainage is that you have to water more often.  I like to include compost  in the mix to ensure there’s lots of organic matter in the mix, and this also helps to hold the water better.

In a normal garden bed I usually stick my finger into the soil up to the second knuckle and by seeing if the soil sticks to my skin I can tell the soil moisture.  Pots can be a little tricky so I’ve found the best way is to tip the pot ever so slightly to see how heavy it is.  The more moisture the harder the pot is to move.  It’s amazing how light a full pot can be if the soil has started to dry out and indicates they need to be watered more frequently.

Want an example of how not to container garden?  Well I purchased a couple of these recycled half wine barrels a while back and planted up a valencia orange and tamarillo.  All good I hear you say, but unfortunately I forgot to check the drainage holes in the bottom of the tamarillo’s barrel and wondered why it was looking pretty average a few months later, especially when compared with the lush orange.  The soil mix was fertile and revealed a stack of worms as I pulled it aside to check what was going on.  As I dug down I noticed water starting to pool…hmmm.  Yes, I was drowning my poor tree!

Remember containers need drainage holes!

Feed regularly

The excellent drainage of pots also means the fertility will flush quickly through the soil.  I combat this by adding a good sticky compost which will hang onto the moisture and therefore the nutrition.  I also tend to ‘top dress’ the potting mix with organic fertiliser such as pelletised manure (dynamic lifter) or blood and bone.   Plus of course worm juice!

If you’re interested in learning more I’ll be giving a free “Growing Veggies in Boxes” workshop on Thursday May 10 from 1pm at the Cloverdale Community Centre, 167-169 Purnell Rd Corio.

Pimp my pavement!

Guerilla Gardening is not as sinister as it sounds, with ‘guerillas’ generally focusing on gardening in public spaces in need of some tender loving care.  Who knows where it actually started, although I have sketchy memories of Permaculture co-founder Bill Mollison planting tree seeds randomly in public spaces in one of his early videos in the 1980s.

No matter how it started it has certainly gained some serious momentum.  How serious?  Take for example the world famous Royal Horticultural Society’s Chelsea Flower Show which now includes ‘Chelsea Fringe’ an open access version of the exclusive show, complete with guerilla gardening map of London!  The Brits even have an International Sunflower Guerilla Gardening day on May 1st!  Of course by ‘International’ they really mean northern hemisphere as we’re a few seasons off planting sunflowers down here!

sunflower guerilla day

The idea has even been picked up by companies such as Adidas to promote their more eco friendly range of footwear

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ECG4YfgY9jI

This no doubt influenced the local production of the television series Guerilla Gardeners which despite being on a big commercial network, managed to step on lots of local council toes and promptly disappeared. I’ve noticed episodes are back up though now if you’re interested.

http://ten.com.au/guerrilla-gardeners.htm

Closer to home I’ve observed early evidence of guerilla gardening down the Bellarine Peninsula where forward thinking folks of European decent planted olive trees in nature strips over 30 years ago.  While being a radical act at the time, the trees have provided useful feedback for the City of Greater Geelong, in showing themselves as a nature strip species which holds its fruit (therefore preventing slippery fruit littering footpaths and creating public liability woes) and can be under-pruned for driver vision etc.

Here is a couple of examples of the Council trialing some nature strip olives in Bell Park.

olive trees bell park

Recently Backyard Harvest pimped some pavement near the Urban Bean Cafe in Labuan Square, Norlane.  We think our vintage potato boxes from a local farmer certainly help to improve a sad looking car park!

Before:

guerilla norlane before

 

After:

guerilla norlane after