I saw a flier at the library for a My Smart Garden workshop when I’d just moved from a townhouse to a larger place. I’d experimented in pots here and there but I was a beginner with a lot to learn and I felt I could pick up some ideas for the new garden. I’ve been to about five or six workshops now and I’ve got a special folder with all my notes.
We used to think using chemical fertilisers and weed killers in the garden was no big deal but now that I’ve had the inspiration I’ve gone completely organic. I use coffee grounds and egg shells to deter snails instead of pellets and we use quail in a movable pen to fertilise the lawn naturally and for eggs. I’ve planted more flowers to attract predatory insects. I never thought I could compost but it’s easy. From nothing I became a complete addict – now I’ve got three compost bins and I could talk about it all day! I got the idea to have chickens from one of the design workshops, so we converted the old cubby house to a chook coup. They work in the compost heap and scratch under our fruit trees. Every workshop has got me thinking about what I could do and inspired me to try more. I feel much more confident from learning all the time.
The Gardening with Children workshop was a good one. It’s important for kids to know where their food comes from. When you buy things at the shops you don’t know where it was grown, or how it was treated with chemicals and pesticides. I really want them to be able to eat fresh food and understand how you grow it and where it comes from. I think it’s extremely important– the food that they eat is their future. Now my kids pick their greens for sandwiches each morning from pots with funny faces on them. When they ask ‘Mum, what’s growing?’ it makes me really happy. I get them involved as much as I can. It’s good for us to be outdoors pottering around together. They plant seeds and one of them feeds the worms and the chickens. She picks the peas off the bushes and we eat salad from the garden every day. It’s amazing! It makes me feel good that I can give them that healthy start in life.”
I want my kids to have a healthy start in life
“Everyone used to grow food before and gardening still gets people talking. My lovely old neighbour gave me a kohlrabi seedling one day. I had no idea what it was but I ended up with this beautiful purple thing that we made into coleslaw. I also planted Jerusalem artichokes from Louis next door. I had no idea what I was planting! It grew a big sunflower and then we ate the tubers. Everyone around here does a bit and we do like to talk, swap and share. At the moment we’re all asking “When are you putting your tomatoes in?”. We also go to food swaps every month. We take silverbeet, beans, worm juice, coffee grounds or seeds. I like the social aspects of chatting to people about gardening; it’s a way to reconnect with the community. I joined the Altona Garden Club too.
There’s always something to do in the garden and it keeps me busy but there are plenty of health benefits from growing your own food. I know I eat better and I’m learning to live by the seasons and enjoy the exercise. I really really enjoy putting it all into practice. And I love eating fresh food!