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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Just a Suburban Backyard


This is a photo of our ordinary suburban backyard in 2008. It's winter.
Immediately to the right out of shot is the clothes line.
Upper right is the cubby house.
Upper left a small structure attached to the garage is the old wood shed, now a hen house.
The hen enclosure also contained the apple tree (3 grafts) and has a run behind the garage of 5mx2m.
The hens are situated at a point far from any dwellings (including neighbours) and have plenty of sunshine and protection from wind.
Their house is a small tin shed with cement floor. It has been fully lined with old timber boards.
Over winter I stack straw bales around the exposed walls for added insulation.

Ostensibly this photo was taken to show my brand new arch that Craig had made me for Christmas.
It is welded from scrap stair and fence railings.

initial bedding going in

As you may know from previous posts, we are chemical free (to the point of me running around with a butterfly net after cabbage moths!)
We believe in a harmonious eco-system. All things have a right to eat so long as the balance is maintained.
Insects eat some plants but in turn are eaten by other insects, frogs or my chooks....
In the photo above you can see the black compost bin in the upper right. The planting to the left of the path provides natural protection for the hens and they love to come out and free range under the plants. It feels safe and teems with interesting bugs.
same beds now

So with compost, horse manure bits and bobs of scrap. We have a thriving garden that not only feeds us every day but also has excess going to the growers' market every fortnight.
Many people at the market would ask me how much land I had and couldn't believe it was just a backyard.
Anyone can feed themselves and it may take on average an hour a week. Some weeks may take more, some weeks none at all.
In fact a post in the near future will show a young man living in a unit complex growing his own food in what I would have called impossible positions.
We tend to roughly grow things together in rows. For corn to self pollinate it's a must. But we don't get anal about partitions and separations. If crops are grown on a large scale all of one kind then it is like a laid out banquet for the predatory pests. All they have to do is move directly from one plant to the next! So we mix it up a little, make them work hard for their forage! Encourage a balance in who might be preying on whom.
We have tried different borders. Some timber and raised. Some stacked bricks but Craig has found his  preferred easy maintenance style is the spaded mounded style with lawn mower width walkways. This way he doesn't need the wipper-snipper.
So what if a pumpkin vine winds its way through the front roses.
What about coloured chard lining the driveway.
Mostly there are no rules really but as much sunlight as possible is a pretty biggie. We also rotate; in that we grow things in different places each time we plant. Again it's about natural balance. In the past a lot of "advice" for gardeners was based on commercial growing principles....IGNORE that! Most commercial growing means things are out of balance and cannot be grown without the additions of pesticide, herbicides and added manufactured nutrients. You are backyard growers and lets keep it that way.


  1. I love your methods! Sure wish more people were thinking that way. I work at a nursery and see and hear the most amazing things especially by people who just want to kill all the bugs in their yard. One old man the other day wanted a bug killer to till into his veggie garden because he didn't want ANY bugs...please...I had to let someone else help him. Love your yard by the way!

  2. Hallo Tom & Barbara - sorry to have missed you yesterday - day in town !

    "Just" is no word to use for your back yard !- talk about a patch of bounty and productivity.

    I'm all for your integrated garden - it really is an excellent method of having a very beautiful vegie patch - and the diversity is such an advantage to keeping bug numbers down.

  3. Hey Tanya, your backyard looks wonderfully productive. Remind me of our backyard growing up.
    Mum and dad had their own vegie gardens as they couldn't agree on best gardening practices, hehehe.
    Talking about vegies in amongst the flowers. Mum once planted beans around the edge of her garden when she moved to a block of units. You wouldn't believe it they all grew, the whole 52 of them.!!My sisters and I just rolled our eyes and thought ' that's mum for you' but we certainly enjoyed the lovely, fresh beans she gave us.

    Shame more people wouldn't make the effort to grow their own veg. as you say it doesn't take heaps of room. Maybe they would find it easier to get by on the finances available to them.......

    Claire :}

  4. What a wonderful post Tanya; your garden is certainly flourishing! In New York, apparently people are growing huge vegie gardens on the rooftops of buildings and also keeping hens up there as well! 'Where there is a will, there's a way!'

  5. You must get some tasty dinners out of that lot! I love the productivity of your gardens and your dedication to doing it naturally too.

  6. Thanks for showing us your back garden, it looks very productive.

    They are stinging nettles I used for the soup by the way.

  7. You have inspired me!!
    We are up to the back yard garden at the moment.
    I look forward to following your blog.

  8. your garden looks fabulous, we didn't have a lot of luck this year, our tomatotes were late then we got (still have) a glut of them, hubby made sauce and we still have lots, but nothing else seemed to grow well this year despite lots of TLC. thanks for the info about Clifford Craig and I meant to say with the apron I love your bunting too!


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