This is about recycling and my suburban garden in Queensland, Australia: a garden that relies on reusing everything because I rarely get chance to go to a hardware store, and can’t afford much anyway! I grow flowers because I love them, and I grow food crops, often from saved seed, because we love to eat fresh real food.
I started by growing trees, and probably have too many because the vegetable growing area has shrunk somewhat. Getting actual fruit from them is another matter: last year I had one avocado, two figs, three mandarins that the fruit flies left me, a few loquat fruits, and nine mangoes. The choko, paw paw and passion fruit did OK though.
In the middle of the vegetable garden is a chicken pen: quite a posh one too. I ordered the basic one, but the supplier was unable to deliver it on time, so they gave me the penthouse version for the same price. My six Sussex cross chickens are thus living a life of luxury, and very happily produce lots of eggs and manure for my garden, while devouring plenty of weeds.
I have herbs, cabbage and silver beet to eat right now, plus green paw paw, mulberries and a few green beans. There are many more vegetables which I’ve recently planted or transplanted: Just like the fruit trees though, all sorts of disasters transpire between planting and harvesting – usually because birds, possums, fruit bats and multitudinous little multi-legged creatures get them first.
The soil here in Dinmore, traditionally a pottery area, is heavy clay with rocks of varying sizes. It is horrible to dig, and hopeless for growing in, so I had to come up with various solutions. One way is to riddle the soil and add lime: I made a riddler out of an old fan guard and a polystyrene box cut to size and strengthened with duct tape. The fan guard sits atop the box, and separates the stones and rubbish from the good soil wonderfully.
Another solution to the soil problem is the raised garden. I redirected an old rectangular iron frame that was on the way to the dump: surrounded by recycled chicken wire it became my first raised bed. I filled it with silky oak leaves which are forever falling on my yard, and then grass cuttings rescued after the council had brought their tractor and done a good job of slashing a nearby grassy bank. I topped it with compost and potting mix: Currently I have potatoes growing in part of it, and various seedlings in another. I look forward to feasting on my wonderful potatoes – in a case of hope triumphing over experience!
The thing with recycling is this: if you are looking for a specific you probably won’t find it: if you find something that possibly could be useful, you’ll find a use – eventually!
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