One Year Later ... Before and After the Basic Eco-Garden Service

David and Suzane are rocketing ahead with the install of their edible garden in Moturoa – they are self motivated, action focused, ‘newbie’  gardeners who are now growing much of their own food. 


Last year, GreenBridge launched its Basic Eco-Garden Service, to meet the needs of clients who wanted to DIY-it, with the reassurance of expertise in correct infrastructure placement and plant selection.  David and Suzane were the first ones to say let's do it!

Above: Part of the site assessment drawing.

Above: Part of the Basic Concept Design.


One year later, lets see what they have achieved…


The orchard is in! Of utmost importance to Susan and David was an orchard. We located this on the low lying plateau (with high water table) next to the boundary stream.  We looked at what fruit they like to eat (plums, apples, pears) as a starting point, and I made suggestions on appropriate root stocks for that site, spacing for maturity, and suitable pollinators. Susan then did her research and headed to Te Kahuri Nursery to purchase heritage varieties. 

Above left: The orchard site "before". 

Above right: The orchard 1 year later. The black plastic is suppressing any regrowth of convulvulous without the need for further spraying. Once the convulvulous has been banished, then the black plastic will be removed and support species / herbal ley will be established.


Establishment of an orchard (or food forest) can be the most difficult and work-intensive stage.  Before planting these fruit trees, the client had to overcome a challenging invader – convolvulous.  Also called bind-weed, convolvulous is a pernitious climber and strangles plants. 


Now I’m a permaculturalist and dislike chemical sprays intently, however I’m also a realist and have ‘battled’ convolvulous for five years on a previous property until one day a friend and colleague (well known gardener whom I won't mention) said "spray it and get over it!"   And she was right, as a short term measure to rid this dominant ‘weed’ and allow the fruit trees to get away, this worked for me and it worked for David and Suzane also. 


If we had more time, I would have advocated a longer term approach of either black plastic for 18 months, or intensively grazing pigs or chooks – in fact both animals will be integrated as a long term measure to keep the weed at bay from re-invasion over the neighbour's fence.  In permaculture this is called making use of  ‘biological resouces’ (animals) to do the work for you – working smarter not harder.  It is also important to actively regenerate the soil post-spray, to create healthy biological soil.

Above: David has built a hugelkulture inspired enclosure for four cross-pollinating avocadoes within a restricted 4sqm space – fantastic.


Other key garden features include a new fence designed by David to espalier fruit trees and wine grapes (which David is keen to experiment with), even propagating some from a friend's vineyard.  A new chook system is in the process of being built and will seep nutrients downhill to a mini-subtropical orchard of avocado, guava, and tamarillo. 















Above left: The vege bed site "before".

Above right: Raised vege beds have gone in, based on a four bed crop rotation, converting a nondescript front lawn into an abundance of veges and herbs.


On the horizon for David and Suzane is increasing their vegetable growing knowledge, expanding the vege beds to use all the front lawn, hooking into the local gardener networks such as Seedsavers, and doing an organic growing course (such as Dee Turner’s course at WITT). 


Pergolas and decks are also planned to extend the living spaces into this intense urban food production…sitting back and enjoying the view with a glass of homemade vino!


This article was written by Bena Denton, an ecological and edible garden designer, and Director of GreenBridge.

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