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What size garden do you have? (approximately)

Jane’s suburban backyard in Newport

I went to my first MSG workshop more than 10 years ago after I picked up a brochure in the library. I thought ‘Ooh, this is interesting, and it’s free as well!’


I’ve been to lots of workshops on topics like pruning, seed raising and entomology. One of my favourites was soil science. The presenter was so enthusiastic and loved her subject. She gave us a thorough understanding of our local soil type, geology and the soil food web. The key message was if your soil is healthy, then your plants are healthy. She used correct terminology but it was pitched just right for gardeners. It wasn’t a lecture; she spoke to us like friends, and we had samples and photos to look at too. I could have stayed for another two hours no problem! I’ve never been bored at a My Smart Garden workshop. The presenters all come with great technical knowledge but they talk to you in accessible ways that are thoroughly enjoyable. It’s practical knowledge and skills that I can apply right away.

Now I have the right balance I can allow nature to do more work. A lot of my vegies have self-seeded and grown themselves. All through winter I had staples like silverbeet, broccoli, beetroot, pumpkins and potatoes. Previously I would have to buy all these, and with the extreme weather lately the prices have shot up. I have fruit trees like my lemonade citrus so I haven’t had to buy much fruit either. And my cherry tomatoes are so sweet! At a My Smart Garden workshop I learned to save tomato seeds so I just squeeze a tasty one onto paper and raise them next spring. Now I can share these tomatoes with other gardeners at the next event! I also learned that you could eat violets and nasturtium flowers so there’s more that I can use.

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I’ve learned practical skills and knowledge that I can apply right away

My life would be joyless without a garden. I’m getting older and I have some injuries, so the idea of doing exercise doesn’t appeal to me, but when I’m gardening I forget about all my aches and pains. I just go out and I love it! It’s been a nice way to connect with my daughter-in-law, who now asks for my opinion on her plants. It also connects me to other people in the community. When people walk past and I’m in the front garden, I always say if their child sees a flower that they like, they can pick it.

We hosted a Permablitz (edible garden working bee) through My Smart Garden. A group of locals came along and were marvellous. My goodness did they work! We built wicking beds at the event and it wasn’t the blokes who did it – the women put them up with hammers and drills! The facilitators were really good at teaching us how to do it. Everyone was hot, sweaty and dirty and it didn’t matter. People had a really good time!