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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Gardening In Small Spaces Part I

I'd like to introduce you to Izaac and his garden.
Izaac is 25 years old and lives in a rental unit complex. He has a small piece of land front and back on a sloping block which faces basically north/south.
He is at University studying a bachelor of science with a view to environmental science. He also works three jobs; forestry (planting, pruning etc), catering and also at a hotel in the dining side of things.
He has a keen interest in food and worked as an unqualified chef for many years. He loves animals and plants and many, many other interests.
He has been working this garden for four years now.
The above photo is his "front yard" and is about 3m x 3m and is on the western side of the unit.
You can see sunflowers, potatoes, eggplants and many herbs. You can see his compost bins over towards the back close to the stairs.

Composting plays an important role in this small garden. It has been used to improve the otherwise poor soil structure and encourage worms. It is a place for all the scraps to which he keeps the microbial action balanced with additions of straw and sometimes water.
The black compost bins deter rodents as they are fully contained. Healthy compost should not have unpleasant odours but the lids prevent smells in times of imbalance and deter swarming insects.
Important points to remember when you are living in high density housing.
Here his supply of straw is stacked under the front steps staying nice and dry ready for use; as mulch, for composting and for his chickens.
The compost bins are also a great place to recycle all the waste material that comes from gardening too.
In addition to the compost and straw, Izaac has added lots of stable manure.
He uses no chemicals, commercial fertilisers or herbicides. The only thing he does use is pet friendly snail pellets. He hand picks off grubs and insect eggs feeding them to his chooks (yes chooks, we'll get to that later)
From this small plot this year he has harvested about 10kg in potatoes alone.
He grows a lot from seed using half toilet rolls for his "tube stock" but he tells me that he prefers to buy seedlings for things like his brassicas as he only needs a couple of plants of each.

Near the front steps is; his Christmas tree, some rhubarb waiting to be transplanted to the right spot and a native pepper tree.

On the other side of the front path he has created another little bed of about 2m x 1m and you can see here the last stages of his Cavolo Nero (Tuscan Kale). He just keeps successively picking. To be honest I think he grows it mostly as a fresh treat for his chickens. This bed has also had a zucchini, corn, rocket and various lettuce and Asian greens.

So in just a few square metres already we can see a wealth of vegetable variety and a healthy ecosystem.
He is growing food for humans and chickens and composting and recycling.
But there is more to see out the back.....
in an even more challenging space and I hope you will come back tomorrow for more of Izaac's garden.


  1. Hey Tanya, wonderful to see someone Izaac's age growing some of their own food in the garden and not out the back either, in full view of all the neighbours.............

    I hope his example has encouraged others around him to 'have a go'. It's one of my 'soapbox' subjects.......... people growing their own food instead of complaining about high prices and lack of funs.

    Ok, ok, I'm off the soapbox now, somebody else can have a go.....

    Wet and WIntery here, I'm loving it....

    Claire :}

  2. Terrific what Izaac has achieved!

  3. Mighty fine job !
    Can see why gorilla gardening is working in places where small gardens exist, with drive like Izaacs you can see why they would be so sucessful and necessary.

  4. Always fun seeing how other people deal with gardening in small spaces and how they decide to make the most of what they have. I myself ripped out our front yard of the house we bought and put in a series of raised beds instead. No grass to mow and we are just starting to reap the rewards of some great produce! (Although if anyone has any recipes with what to do with extra radish I would be very grateful) :)


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