Organic Food Gardens

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The main focus for our blog is to pass on information and tips about growing food using Permaculture methods, to help vegetable garden owners take responsibility for their garden and their own backyards allowing them to supplement their diet with real whole foods grown by themselves in a fully supported and natural way.


Native Stingless Bees
Native Stingless Bee Hive

Native stingless bees as the name suggests - don’t sting. 

Australia has many types of native bees. Native bees can be encouraged into a garden by planting lots of colourful flowering plants. Like the European honey bee which we are all familiar with, bees love and are attracted by beautiful colourful smelling flowers. As the bees roam from flower to flower / plant to plant collecting nectar, they are providing pollination for the flowers. Pollination of flowers aids reproduction as well as the formation of fruit. The more bees present in the garden the more likely there will be a increase in fruit forming. For example when citrus trees flower the presence of bees will increase the formation of fruit. Thus plant lots of colourful shrubs around your citrus trees and other fruiting trees.

Native stingless bees are either solitary or they live in a colony. Most are solitary. The solitary bees include the Blue banded bee which has beautiful blue and black strips which I have seen in Canberra and Sydney. Other native solitary bees include the Tiger bee, Teddy bear bee, Gold tipped leafcutter bee all seen in Sydney. There are only 2 types of native bees that live in colonies. Carbonaria stingless bees are found from the South Coast of NSW to Northern Queensland and can be found naturally in the Sydney region. These bees can also be kept in the home garden in a purchased hive or can be naturally encouraged with the planting of native flowering trees and plants. They love blue and purple flowers.

Native bees hives set up in a community garden or a home garden need to be sheltered from the afternoon summer sun. They are active and come out of the hive when the temperature is 18 degrees and above. In winter they are less active. Ideal temperature range is 18 to 40 degrees. Above 40 degrees place a wet towel over the hive to aid with cooling. When the temperature range is in the 20’s and 30 ‘s you will see lots of bee active around the hive and in the garden. Sometimes it’s great to sit by the hive with a cup of tea and watch the native bee activity.

Native Australian people have harvested the honey from Native bees for thousands of years. The honey is used as a sweetener or eaten straight as a treat.

 


 

Blueberries pollinated by bees Bees at the entrance to the Hive The Hive
Bluberries assisted with polination by Bees Bees at the entrance to the Hive

Companion Planting

Companion Planting

Companion planting is growing vegetables, flowers and herbs together to create a healthy garden. Companion planting can provide nutrients to the soil.

Colourful flowers attract pollinators and beneficial insects to the garden. Bees and insects that are attracted by colour and will pollinate flowers and this increases the chances of fruit.

Flowers attract lady beetles who eat aphids, water in ponds attracts dragonflies who prey on pest insects and ponds also attract lizards who eat snails and slugs.

Dill attracts beneficial wasps.

Good companions like the legumes ( vegies that grow pods ) like beans and peas release nitrogen from their roots which benefits leaf growing vegies like lettuce.

Other good companions include:

  • Basil that repels flies and mosquitoes,
  • Chives that have a strong smell that confuses thrips, chives are often planted with roses.
  • Lots of herbs planted together create a combination of smells which confuse and deter pests.
  • Celery repels white cabbage butterflies,
  • Nasturtium will deter aphids and bugs,
  • Marigolds will keep soil free of nematodes
  • Petunias will repel tomato worm.

Comfrey

 Comfrey

Blue Salivia

Blue Salivia 

Mexican Purple Sage

Mexican Purple Sage 

Ornamental Garlic

Ornamental Garlic

Pineapple Sage

Pineapple Sage 

The use of natural vegetables, herbs and flowers in combination together will decrease the need for using chemicals in the garden. It’s working with nature.

See under Seasonal Task Spring and Summer for companion planting combinations and always remember to practice crop rotation.

Top Images: Pineapple Sage (left) Nasturtiums (right) 


Raised vegetable gardens

Raised vegetable gardens can be made to a height of 1 metre to 1.5 metres usually to  waist height. These raised beds allow gardeners to work at a comfortable height without having to bend over and work at ground level.

They can be made of timber or recycled bricks / materials and filled with good soil and compost. Their ideal for wheel chair access and they can be netted by placing stakes at each corner and then placing a net over the bed to keep out pest insects and wildlife. An assortment of herbs and vegetables can be grown in them.

Raised Garden beds  

Wicking Beds

Wicking beds are raised garden beds that are self watering. They hold water below the soil and water is sucked up by the plants roots through capillary action when it’s needed. The base of a wicker bed is lined with a pond liner then on top of pond liner porous rubble is placed. Placed in the middle of the rubble is an agricultural line ( Ag pipe ) which zig zags through the rubble and is connected to a PVC pipe which extends to the top of the raised bed. This PVC pipe is filled with water which flows into the Ag line in the lower area of the bed.

On top of the rubble geotextile fabric is placed with the soil placed on top of that. An overflow outlet pipe is placed at the point where the soil meets the geotextile fabric.

Raised Wicking bed Raised Wicking Garden


Wicker beds are great during dry period and summer as they are self watering.

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