Tildesam's Experiments: Suburbia Edition

Discussion in 'Members' Systems' started by Tildesam, Jul 29, 2017.

  1. Tildesam

    Tildesam Junior Member

    Feb 13, 2012
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    Sydney, Australia
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    Warm Temperate (Diggers Cold Zone 10, Hot Zone 4-6)
    Because I'm so hideously lazy at keeping up a garden journal, and the web-based garden journal I'm building is taking so long because side projects, I thought I'd sort of ramble out loud about what I'm getting up to in PRI.

    I also did another thread to document the experiments I'm doing in my rural property, too.

    So here goes!

    My partner and I rent an ageing cottage in Sydney’s northern suburbs. The yard is horribly under-utilised, thanks in part a big old pool smack-bang in the middle. The front yard is standard fare, a bit of lawn along with some traditional ornamental plants.


    The house & land orients almost north-south, but tends towards NNE and SSW which is reasonably good for sunlight all year around. Thanks to standard fence and building shadows (the standard issue in suburbia), the southerly half of the front and back yards are best for gardens, the remainder is adjusting for harsh west sun, or semi to deep shade.



    We don’t get frost much in winter here thanks to the heat the pool traps (at least it’s good for something!) but the sheer amount of space it takes up means I have to work around the slivers of ground surrounding.

    As soon as I moved in, the first thing I did was set up a standing bed on the concrete. This is where I most intensively garden so I can really go for it, and not feel concerned about putting everything back the way it was, when it’s time to leave. Gravel on the bottom for drainage, some hegelkultur style material on top of that (read: lazily shoving pruned tea-tree branches so we didn’t have to chop them up) and the remainder a compost mix bulk-purchased from a landscaper. I top up with compost when I have it on hand.


    For my kitchen waste I run a worm farm and one of those spinny compost bins. I sort of fumble my way around them both but it seems to be going OK.


    The soil in the ground itself is horrid - sandy clay loam, that got covered in weed matting and pebbles to suppress weeds in the 60s or something. At some point, an owner (or some rather dim-witted landscaper) chose to simply cover it all with woodchips. Because weeds being weeds, grass has managed to get through it all anyway so now it all looks rather unkempt, with the added bonus of humus going to waste, and being an utter pain to have to weed manually. Sigh.


    I’d like to say I leave the garden itself unattended, but I just can’t help myself! Any leftover cuttings or plants I put in amongst the existing plants, and where I do this, I make sure to replace the soil with compost before I replace the top layer of mulch. It’ll look the same but in all likelihood I will replace the soil by about a third with good quality humus, and at the very least the existing plants will appreciate it.


    The beds around the house I mostly focus on ornamentals, or ornamentals with edible properties - and don’t worry about them too much since it’s not really “mine”. If a plant becomes successful, I leave it in as a gift to the owners (they’re reasonably nice people!)

    The remainder of the outdoor spaces I utilise with container gardening, with which I have had varying levels of success.



    Even though I rent, my landlords have given me some creative liberty with the yard as long as I keep it “tidy” (I suspect “tidy” means “not very permaculture looking”). There are a couple of places I’m planning to do some clever gardening, west-facing fences with cracked concrete that might be perfect for training beans or berries, long north-facing brick walls perfect for heating up soils and busting cold air, areas of lawn to slowly turn into garden beds.

    I can’t properly design this property just yet since there isn’t much I can muck about with, so this place I am using as the laboratory for my horticultural (and agricultural) experiments. I’ve never really gotten deep into edible gardening before (shocking as I’ve been lurking here for over 6 years) and here is where I’m giving it a good hard go.

    For reasons that are mostly documentation for myself (as I am inept at keeping a garden journal, I managed a few pages on my last attempt!) I also record some of my progress on video. Here’s the last one!

    Well that's it for now!
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2017

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