Edible garden – Daylesford

by | Jan 2, 2016 | Gardeners & Farmers, In the Garden

Growing your own food makes for rich culture; it is rewarding, invigorating and full of new experiences. Each year seed sowing is an exercise in hope. You never know if the seeds will sprout, but you hope they will and provide attentive care in the form of watering and temperature regulation to ‘foster’ the potential for growth. In spring you wonder how many flowering buds will appear on your fruit trees and how much fruit will be produced; in autumn after pruning, you ply the tree with lots of compost and do so again in spring.

There is immense joy in growing. Growing. You feel the growing in you.

Many have discovered the pleasure of growing and daily practice the rituals of watering, preparing compost, moistening their worm farms: stillness and observation.

I park my bike at Jo and Toni’s house. When I moved to Daylesford I hoped to find a friendly local who would let me do this. I wanted to be able to ride into town, but from the edge of town not from our property, as it would require 10 km of steep long hills along a highway of fast cars.

And on meeting this gorgeous couple, a bike parking home appeared, one cloaked in a marvelous permaculture garden!

Jo (forefront) and Toni.

Jo (forefront) and Tony.

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Each year roof lines are softened and sweetened by grapes. To maintain and curtail growth, the grape vine is pruned back, with laterals shortened to two buds to encourage flowers.

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Beneficial insects are welcomed and offered free accommodation.

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Raised garden beds offer the following benefits. Improve soil drainage, keep paths clear of fertile soil. Reduce the need for bending.

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Vegetables thrive in well drained soils rich in organic matter and protected with a thin or thick layer of mulch. Thick in summer and thin in winter, or soils can get too wet.

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Eggplant detail.

Zucchini detail.

Zucchini detail.

Beautiful trellised beans.

Beautiful trellised beans.

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Rocket gone to seed to produce next years crop.

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Wicking garden pots make it possible to grow potatoes successfully. In the heat of summer pots need to be watered two or three times a day. They simply don’t have the soil mass required to keep moisture in. But wicked pots will do a great deal better, especially if not placed in direct all day sun.

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Confrey is grown and used to make a liquid fertiliser. The deep roots of comfrey access minerals that have leached into the deeper soil horizons. Comfrey is rich in nitrogen and potassium. Toni harvests comfrey leaves and places them in a large plastic tub immersed in water to leach nitrogen and potassium and other trace elements from the leaves. After 2 or more weeks the black nitrogen and pottassium rich liquid can be diluted with water to produce a tea coloured fertiliser and applied to the garden. Potassium will help stimulate flower growth and nitrogen will stimulate vegetative growth.

A perfect sealed tub for storing comfrey leaves in water.

A perfect sealed tub for storing comfrey leaves in water.

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Removing the seal.

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Liquid fertiliser made from comfrey leaves. The confrey has yet to fully break down as the fibers are clearly still visible. Once it has completely disintegrated, the liquid will be strained so that it can be easily poured into a watering can and applied to the vegetable garden. You could also use it as is and apply the sludge to the garden. It would then break down as a slow release fertiliser. The C/N ratio of comfrey is low hence it will not rob the soil of C nor N during its decomposition.

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Comfrey seeds are visible in this picture. In which case if the comfrey were to be applied into the garden in this form (as sludge), you are likely to introduce comfrey seeds into your garden beds. If you don’t want comfrey growing in the beds it is best to wait until it has completely broken down, strained and used only in liquid form.

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This compost bin is full of horse manure. It is kept in this moisture rich environment and added to the compost pile as needed. By keeping it contained rain will not leach out its nutrient rich mix.

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Netting is used to protect berries in a bird proof enclosure.

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Blueberries!!! What a marvelous, antioxidant rich gift. If only we ate more berries than sugared sweets how healthy and wonderful we could all be. I can’t wait to grow my own and help my children develop an excellent thirst for healthy treats.

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Raised garden beds for various berries: blueberries, raspberries.

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No permaculture garden is without its chickens. And note the use of reflective foil insulating the coop. This will make their home more bearable in the summer heat.





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Garden companions.

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The worm farm faces east and is carefully cared for. A thick hessian bag is placed on the top to keep moisture in. As you can see the worms are thriving.

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Worm juice. Jo and Toni are not in short supply of fertiliser.

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The property is also devoted to supporting indigenous plants and securing biodiversity values. Banskia detail.

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And something very special and rarely seen in gardens. A wild flower and indigenous grasses plot, protected by fencing.

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Indigenous grasses. In the forefront Austrostipa mollis. 

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Chrysocephalum semipapposum, with grey green foliage.

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In the forefront Austrostipa scabra.

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Forefront: Eryngium ovinum.

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Eryngium ovinum detail.


  1. Ruth

    How fortunate you are to have met Jo and Toni! Their garden is amazing, a great example of what is possible in one’s own backyard. I am pleased that you were generous with the amount of photos you posted here; their efforts are inspiring and I hope one day to have a garden as productive as theirs.

    • Mara

      How lovely Ruth, I must meet you too!! Yes their garden is so very inspiring and so very beautiful!! Thank you for your visit. much care, mara

  2. Kirti

    Yay ! what lovely neighbours . I will call soon my lovely! xxx


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