Category Archives: courtyard

Bees, why we need them, how to get them, what to do if you don’t want them but still want to be nice

Bees.  They get a lot of media attention due to their importance and current plight but we don’t all need to be bee keepers to help the bees. All we need to do is a few simple things.

But first:  why do we need them?

Bees pollinate a large number of our crops.  Other insects can help too but people tend to agree that bees do most of the work so if we want to keep eating like we’re currently eating, we need the bees.

How to get them

There are a number of local companies and councils who’ll come and help you out with hives.  If you are a school have a look at native bees. They are stingless and still fascinating (see pics at the top of this post).  If you are a business or home owner in Sydney consider getting in touch with the Urban Beehive and have a look at hosting options. If all this is sounding too hard how about making habitats for the many solitary bees we have?  Hollow sticks, holes in mud bricks, these all make excellent homes for some of our excellent bees, as well as excellent activities for big and little hands.

What to do if you don’t want them but still want to be nice?

The first thing you need to do is throw away the poisons.  Don’t put or spray anything in your garden that hasn’t come out of your kitchen or compost. The second thing you need to do is plant flowers.  Or let your herbs go to flower.  Bees love it when you do that.  The third thing you can do is write to your local council.  Ask them if they are using poisons.  Then ask them to stop.

 

Posted in bees, Community Gardens, courtyard, education, native bees, School Gardens | Comments Off on Bees, why we need them, how to get them, what to do if you don’t want them but still want to be nice

Never too old

This is the story of one of our first clients who I’d like to name (they have great names) but won’t because I’m not sure what the rules are on that.  This couple live in a small but well appointed apartment with a surrounding courtyard garden.  They are on the main road but when you’re inside you hardly notice.

We first came to their garden after it was newly built and planted.  There wasn’t a lot of thought put into the garden and as we dug and restructured it we found the soil was mostly made up of builder’s rubbish.  We put a lot of time and they put a fair bit of money, into that initial work but it’s paid off in a beautifully giving and changing garden.

While mostly planted with flowering natives we also included a number of edible plants and these have slowly increased over the years.  They pick from the garden every day and this is the reason for my story.  The gentleman of the couple, in all his years, had never picked and eaten from his own garden until we reshaped and planted this new garden for him.  For him (and for me), this was a great experience and one they, and I, continue to enjoy.

Posted in courtyard, Grow, Herbs | Comments Off on Never too old

Little Things

A lot of us don’t have space and a lot of us don’t have time and some of us don’t have space or time and this is where growing little things comes in handy.  Here’s ten of my current favourites.

  1. Herbs

Don’t buy those plastic wrapped packets you get at the supermarket and often only use half of.  Grow your own herbs (or find a nearby house that’s growing them for you – there really only needs to be one rosemary bush per block).  If your kitchen is too shady for window sill herbs, grow double pots.  Keep one in the kitchen, the other somewhere sunny and swap them around when the one in the kitchen starts to look peaky.

  1. Lebanese eggplant

So much easier and better tasting than the larger fruit, and generally prolific.  The rule here is that the longer you have to wait for a fruit or vegetable to develop the more chance there is of something going wrong (think here pest attack).

  1. Cherry tom

Usually resistant to fruit fly and they come in all sorts of colours and shapes now.

  1. Dwarf fruit

Happy in a pot, I find citrus the most productive and useful.

  1. Quails

When your space is too small for chickens these are a great alternative.  We love our quails for their prowess at catching pests, their protein packed eggs and their general good looks.

  1. Leaf lettuce

Hearting lettuce is susceptible to attack from slugs and snails before you get to the good part of eating it.  Leaf lettuces are so much quicker, you can be picking leaves in a matter of weeks and can continue to pick as the weeks go on.

  1. Midyim berry

These native plants are delicate, shade lovers.  Their speckled berries have a unique flavour, very fragrant.  A small plant can produce a lot of berries if it’s in the right place.

  1. Garlic shoots

Why wait for garlic bulbs when you can eat the leafy green shoots – fantastic flavour and a continual crop.

  1. Broccollini

Same story as the eggplant.  Trying to grow vegetables as big as the ones you buy in the supermarket can lead to disappointment.  Brocollini is fast, tasty and a little bit fancy.

  1. Kale

I love cabbage but growing it has the same issues as growing hearting lettuce.  Kale is a fantastic alternative, very attractive in the garden and one of those foods everyone says we should be eating more of.  You can grow it like you grow leaf lettuces, picking off leaves as you need them while continuing to let it grow.

So, small space?  No time?  No longer a good enough excuse!

What little things do you like to grow?

Posted in courtyard, dwarf fruit trees, Grow, pests, Quail | Tagged | Comments Off on Little Things

Growing Corporate

Late last year we were contacted by Razor & JOY to come and have a look at their courtyard space with a view to installing an edible garden. I’d been very keen install an office garden so was excited by the prospect. It was also a beautiful looking site (once the pot plants here removed).

We built the beds (2 four metre long and 1 two metres long) out of recycled hard wood timber palings, sanded and oiled. Lined them with geotextile fabric and filled them with a rich organic mixture of compost, manure, straw and lucerne.

Staff assisted in the final stage and the beds were planted with salad greens, tea herbs, herbs, tomatoes and beans, chilli’s and capsicum. There’s a strawberry box, micro green box and seed raising box.

Pots of dwarf citrus, midyim berry, blueberry and bay were added.

The garden is lovingly cared for and picked by the staff. Unfortunately the pests have been pretty happy with the garden addition as well but hopefully with a little tweaking the pests will have less to eat and the staff will have more. Reports are that this has been a really worthwhile addition to office life and has definitely been a very satisfying project for me to work on.

Posted in courtyard, dwarf fruit trees, Enjoy, Grow, Perennial, pests, Razor & JOY, recycled wood, Vegetable | Comments Off on Growing Corporate