Growing on the Marginal

At the end of November we joined Lisa on the foothills of kunanyi, nipaluna, on muwinina country (South Hobart). It was a wonderful opportunity to learn more about productive use of marginal spaces.There was so much to take in and here are just a few favourite elements of the visit.

Lisa welcomed us and recapped the known history of the land they are currently stewarding. She recalled the amount of advice received against settling in their location because it is a steep. south facing block that for two months of the year barely gets any sun on much of the garden area.
Clearly, Lisa and her partner Ant love a challenge and by gosh they have they risen to it!

The three main aims of Lisa and Ant’s design are: 1. Creating a haven for them, their friends and family 2. Building greater self resilience and 3. Providing improved habitat for wildlife.

Located on the sunniest part of the block, the house was originally from the North West Coast. The previous owners had it cut in half for transport and then reunited it on site in South Hobart. The roof is now home to solar panels that make the most of all the sun it receives year round.
(The practice of relocating houses is much more common on the mainland than Tasmania. Heather has previously written about her family’s house relocation here.)

Worm farms and weed fertiliser production occurs beside a pomegranate tree in a space that was once devoted to a clothesline and since removed.
And their washing? It is dried in the carport area, inside the house on raised lines or, if needed, our intrepid mountain dwellers strategically use a clothes drier during the daylight hours so it will be powered by their solar.

Fertilisers that were brewed in an old fermenting barrel decanted into empty gin bottles.
The beauty of a figgery – both the word and the realisation of a fig mini orchard on the patio.
Looking back down towards the house, citrus trees have been planted in this protected, sun catching pocket of space.

The margins beside the stairs up the slope are also home to scented herbs, flowers, shrubs and vines. Lisa keeps some of their gifts in her pocket when leaving home as their scent provides a bit of a nature boost during longer days working in an office or less delightful smelling places.

Throughout the walk and talk Lisa chatted to us about
– Gardens for wildlife
– Food forests
– Gardening in raised beds and how to keep them hydrated
(read more about the ollas in Helen’s linked post below)
– Top bar bee keeping
– Using green houses to extend your growing season
– Incorporating quail and chickens into your system
– Utilising our “waste” and that of others to nourish our soil

A berry protected sanctuary to obtain a yield.

Lisa explained that when they first moved here, there were many canes of one kind of delicious raspberry. These produced fruit for two months of the year. By changing things up and diversifying raspberry varieties, their berry harvest period has been effectively extended to 6 months. Of course there’s also the added interest to their dessert bowls!

Quail playground.

Lisa’s Zone Two includes a food forest and their happy chickens and quails.

Many leafy greens like kales, mizuna, mustards etc have made themselves comfy in the food forest. They self sow themselves there and this frees up more space in the annual beds for other veggies.

For specific shade tolerant vegetables and tips on growing them this post covers lots of what Lisa chatted about throughout the tour. I’ll add mention of Lisa’s tamarillo trees (not to be confused with tomatillo) and her chillean guava shrubs (ugni molinae) as food forest options that that can do very well in part shade and even less sun.

No get together is complete without a catch up cuppa, chat and the sharing of surplus which the group enjoyed before heading home with full arms, heads and hearts!

Massive thankyou to Lisa for organising and hosting a wonderful visit to her permie patch! You can read another perpective on this visit from PT member Helen here.