Welcome to the Garden
A rectangle of weedy grass in late 2003.
Soil like cement that broke a rotary hoe.
Now a productive garden that makes good use of every drop of water and provides plenty of fresh food all year.
Video from a 2007 Gardening Australia Expo presentation. Please note my website address on the cover slide no longer exists. You are on http://www.jerry-coleby-williams.net
At A Glance
BLOCK SIZE: 815 sq metres, officially 32 perches (quaint or what?)
PRODUCTIVE GARDEN: 300 sq metres in the back garden. Comprising of eight x 10 sq metre beds for crop rotation, plus a herb bed. Perimeter borders grow fruit trees, pineapples, bananas, spices and bamboo.
PEST & DISEASE CONTROL: All organic, plus crop rotation.
Getting the soil right can eliminate half the common gardening problems. ‘Soil Wars’ shows a lot of effort went into this vital first step.
Soil was sampled and analysed in a laboratory to identify any deficiencies and possible excesses. The results guided soil improvement.
No excavated soil was sent to landfill, instead it was rehabilitated on site. A gardening challenge!
The Millennium Drought was in full swing and, as water is a vital ingredient in compost making and for creating dynamic, living soil, the dryness slowed things down dramatically.
And for those people who think there’s a team of helpers like certain ‘instant garden’ programmes on commercial tv, once the machinery was out of the way it was one gardener, one part time helper, and a dog.
Each image is accompanied by explanatory captions.
The Machin family, Bellis, 1933. The house was built in 1914 for the station manager.
… and was well gardened (E. Machin, 1933)
Sept 2003: the blank slate with worm-free, compacted soil
Garden layout painted by Nick Walford-Smith
Soil sampling for laboratory analysis Nov ’03
Underside of turf: dark brown stain indicates humus
The silty, sandy topsoil 0 – 200mm deep
subsoil 400 – 600mm deep – less humus
at 600 – 800mm leaching now apparent
800 – 1000mm deep bleached & with podsol
Podsol: hard layer formed by deposition of leached minerals
Soil excavated for sewage system spread on site…
…didn’t take up too much room.
However digging for the rainwater tank left 37 cubic metres of clay subsoil…
Millet green manure to stop erosion.
…created a theme park for George
Mature millet Feb ‘04
MIllet slashed down and hoed in. Feb ‘04
Immediately sowing a 2nd green manure of sunflowers
April ‘04: soil coming to life & sunflowers slashed ready…
…to begin sandwich mulching. 1st layer is barley straw…
…which allows air and rain to percolate through and…
…made chasing lizards MUCH more exciting for George!
Lord of the Mulch
Soil conditioned with minerals, lime and organic fertiliser April ’04
oil comes to life: Coprinus disseminatus and…
Nidula emodensis and…
…many other fungi!
Final green manure of peas, barley, sunflowers May ‘04
Final Green Manure June ‘04
Green Manure Hoed In Late July ‘04
Future Lawn Aug ’04
Future Vegetable Plots
Nursery area up and running Dec ‘04
Levelling the lawn site Feb ’05
Levelled and border installed
The border is made from recycled sleepers treated with ‘Cooee’ certified organic timber preservative
Lawn laid with Durban grass aka ‘Sweet Smother Grass’ and being established with rainwater
The border is caulked and can contain a 150mm downpour. Stopping runoff, giving the water time to penetrate the soil
A test crop of silverbeet to sample for the presence of persistent organic pollutants or heavy metals
Vegetable garden construction April ’05
Vegetable garden almost complete May ‘05
Vegetable garden complete, traffic areas mulched. Aug ‘05
Arrowroot screening Dec ’05
Jan ’06 Again the drought bites.
Arrowroot screening Feb ‘06
Sunflowers improving the soil in the last undeveloped part of the garden, south of the house…