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gardens and landscapes transformed

Edible Garden

6th November 2008   11:50AM  

Green Footprint designed Keri Anderson's new edible garden. This article featured in Waikato Times' Home and Lifestyle Magazine in November 2008.

To read the original, click on the PDF below

Keri Anderson has hankered after an edible garden for

years, she says. "I've been mulling it over since the kids were

little and I became more concerned about their health."

She switched to natural products and organics, and the

next logical progression seemed to be producing her own

fruit and vegetables.

She was held back until a final decision was made this

year to remain in their present house. That decision has

recently been supported by the rise and rise of food prices,

putting organics out of reach of the family's budget, "and I

was sick of spending a lot of time and effort in the garden

just for flowers, I wanted to get something edible for all

my labour".

Keri, however, was not confident of her ability to achieve

the levels she wanted on her own - up until now her

repertoire had been confined to tomatoes and lettuces.

And the site was difficult, sloping 1.5m down the back of

the section where the gardens were to be established.

So she called in an expert. "I'm not good at any design

things - I needed to get everything in the right place and

some good advice as well. I've been living in Hamilton 10

years, but I'm still not familiar with the soils and what grows


A garden designer/environmental-sustainability

specialist first checked out the Andersons' site, took

photographs, looked at the soil - and listened. Keri's

brief included fruit and vegetables available for picking

throughout the year; a cricket pitch for her son; and an

introduction to permaculture - composting, creating a

worm bath/farm, catching rain water.

The garden designer then drew up a couple of concepts,

from which Keri selected her final working plan.

This gave extensive details on every aspect: different

cultivars - three types of apple, for instance, that would

produce fruit early, mid and late season - what to plant

where and what grows best in Hamilton conditions, soil

(Keri's is clay based) improvement and preparation, rotating

crops, hard landscaping, including two flat areas for seating

in summer and winter. Step-by-step instructions on the

construction of the raised beds were given too, and how to

create a worm farm.

The designer also recommended getting rid of as much

existing lawn as possible to better retain nutrients within

the soil.

Keri has attacked the plan on a pay-as-you-goes basis.

"I've probably done things out of order. I'm improvising a


First, she removed the borders from the original garden,

created a large blank canvas to work within. Next she

cut down superfluous existing trees and got rid of their

stumps, ordered the fruit and citrus trees, planted them

with a healthy surround of compost.

An organic gardeners group put her in touch with

a nursery whose trees were healthy, good sized and

cheap - about $10 a tree. She also sourced plants via the

internet and a sales table at her church offered all types of

plants, including passionfruit, herbs and vegetables, for a


Keri's focus now is on constructing the framework of the

raised beds from untreated timber surrounds, gum's best

she understands. Then getting them and their contents

level, improving soil condition, preparing it for spring

planting. Keri has one compost bin up and running well,

but even when she has three working in rotation, she will

supplement by buying in compost.

She will plant the beds strictly to what the family

- husband Ian, 13-year-old Niall and 10-year-old Merryn

- likes to eat. No insecticides will be used in this garden;

predators will be controlled with neem oil, garlic spray and

a soapy concoction made from detergent and oil, and by

a companion planting system. She will also create a corner

native garden that will attract beneficial birds and insects.

This first year Keri will grow her vegetables from

seedlings, they will ensure best results for a novice, she

feels. She'll progress on to seeds once she gains confidence,

which will open up opportunities to grow "something

other than supermarket varieties - weird looking zucchini,

different tomatoes, purple carrots ..."

Biggest outlay so far in this garden has been for the

expert advice. "But I figure if I get everything right it will be

worth it. I'd planted a plum tree in the wrong place and it

just shot up instead of fruiting. The hard landscaping - the

decks and the bricked area - will be another big expense,

but I'll leave that for now and do things a piece at a time.

I've got nearly all the big plants now, I only need two more

trees, and I've spent only $250.

"And I'm going to invest in a hand-mower - very

ecologically correct - to mow the bit of lawn that's left. That

saves on getting someone in for $25 a mow."


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