Almost vertical mountain slopes, crazy weather and abundant wildlife – these are just some of the factors that make establishing a productive garden in nipaluna | Hobart challenging. We visited four gardens, thriving in their mountainous homes and providing an abundance of food for their creators and communities.
The gardens are opened as part of the Home Harvest tour, curated by permaculture designer and educator Hannah Maloney of Good Life Permaculture.
Meika’s garden ~ Mountain Nest
Mieke established her garden at the base of kunanyi | Mount Wellington eight years ago. Her creativity and hard work have brought into being a bountiful sanctuary that nourishes her family. The overflow of produce feeds her community through a roadside stall.
Mountain Nest is a sprawling garden. Meika admits “it just keeps growing” – encompassing vegetable beds, a poly-covered greenhouse, open and covered orchards. The sheer variety of fruit and vegetables is mind-boggling. All are grown using organic principles, mostly by Meike with some help from a semi-regular garden group.
Medicinal herbs punctuate the garden, providing Mieke with teas. There are plenty of cosy nooks to enjoy a cuppa and take in spectacular views of the mountain on one side and the Derwent on the other.
Twenty beehives are dotted around the property’s boundary – Meika’s son’s project. A small scale honey business called Natures Nectar. On the day we are there, untreated bush and leatherwood varieties are on offer.
Meika’s garden is about variety, health and abundance. Sunny spots and sheltered retreats offer space for rest, reflection and play. Mountain Nest is a garden with heart, and it gives generously.
Rob’s garden is only five months old. It is perfectly situated on a north-facing slope in the foothills of kunanyi | Mount Wellington. Productivity, sustenance and profit are the driving forces of this garden.
The beds’ construction is super simple – stakes hold one sheet of iron in place on the slope’s low side. Rob lays spent plants into the beds and then smothers the mounds with organic compost sourced from the tip.
On the day we are there, the beds are bursting with summer vegetables and herbs, including tall stands of corn, tomatoes and masses of bright, healthy basil.
Rob has paid for the garden’s start-up cost in the five short months it has been in existence through the sale of his produce to local providores.
The garden occupies cleared ground surrounded by bush. Rob is a practical gardener, and he acknowledges fire risk. He believes he could bring the garden back to life quickly after a fire event.
The simplicity and thoughtful construction of this garden made a real impression on us. It is a spare garden that truly responds to its location and Rob’s needs.
Outside The Box
Close to Mount Nelson’s summit is a garden established by Outside the Box | Earth Arts Rights. A not for profit organisation seeking to “connect, amplify, nurture and support people working at the intersection of environmental protection, the arts and social justice”.
With wildlife at every turn, the design of this very productive garden serves to protect against intrusion. Water-wise wicking beds are topped with cages, fenced and netted areas protect fruits and vegetables.
Glasshouses also keep food plants safe from wildlife and also serve to extend the growing season into the colder months. This water-wise garden works on closing the loop at every turn with efficient composting and worm farming.
Many of you will be familiar with the Goodlife Permaculture garden via Gardening Australia and social media. Hannah and her family’s garden is a practical and soulful response to living on a dramatic slope.
Innovative terracing provides sturdy footholds, places for plants and housing for animals. Long terraced veggie beds form the perfect route for a chook tractor to renovate and fertilise spent beds. Cold frames nestle into the banks, as do the compost bays.
On vertical surfaces you find climbers such as hops and espaliered fruit trees. Every inch of the property is super productive, showcasing permaculture principles. A dynamic, holistic garden that provides for its creators and serves to educate the community.
The upside of mountainside living is spectacular views of Hobart city and The Derwent. A bonus for the human inhabitants and the other animals!
Hats off to Hannah and co, who practice what they preach. Thank you for organising Home Harvest – it is generating plenty of food for thought!