It’s not so long ago that our gardens were productive as well as aesthetically pleasing, containing a veggie garden, a small orchard, and herbs and medicines too. How wonderful, but perhaps too much hard work? Or so thought some, as gardens moved away in disdain from anything productive or working class, to the opposite extreme of being purely decorative.
Some modern gardens are still struggling with an aversion to being productive, insisting in many cases that anything edible, cabbage for example, be hidden somewhere round the back and out of sight. The great news is that there is a growing trend forwards towards bringing food, and usefuls back into our garden environment, where they can be enjoyed.
A new landscape is emerging, one that blends edibles, herbs, and medicines into an artful and multi-faceted design, a pharmacy and food market all in one. Thanks to Permaculture, we have the perfect toolkit equipped to transform every space into a lush and thriving sustainable environment that gives endless pleasure, and endless food. We’re talking about food security here, and soul-full living too.
An edible garden
Why not have your garden and eat it too? You can! The healthiest food is that which comes fresh from your own home garden, naturally and organically grown. Or go one step further and grow Biodynamic, tasty, mineral-rich food. And when herbs, fruits, berries and edible flowers combine, a garden becomes a delicious sensory explosion of taste and aroma, along with providing a visual feast of colour.
South Africa is rich in indigenous medicinal and herbal plants. Our local plants are perfectly adapted to the South African growing environment, making them water-wise, low-maintenance, environmentally friendly and easy to grow. Who said growing food was hard work? It’s just a case of adapting the menu a little.
The Mediterranean herbs grow easily here too. Add in some highly nutritious weeds – they’re growing in your garden already anyway – edible flowers, a few indigenous fruits like the Kei Apple, Num-Num, Waterberry, and the palette of multi-talented plants that we have to play with and create from becomes a riot of colour, scent and texture providing a bounty of healthy edibles all year round.
Ease the load on our landfills
There are many other uses for a garden space too. How about helping to ease the load on our local landfills, which are almost full already? Organic matter from the kitchen and the garden recycle easily into dark, nutritious compost, much too good for the dustbin. The removal of any organic matter from any garden is a direct loss of fertility. It’s very easy to compost at home, or to include an earthworm farm that produces the most incredible natural fertilizer. Compost and manure together enliven the soil, feeding micro-organisms and earthworms that in turn provide whole and healthy food for the plants.
And what about playing a central role in preserving and protecting a piece of nature? All our gardens together add up to the larger landscape within which we live. Go organic at home and contribute to the health and resilience of our collective greater environment. Of key importance is that the organic garden is safe for children and pets, along with providing a sanctuary and refuge for a myriad of small wildlife. Through the dance and song and movement of insects and birds, a garden becomes truly alive!
Gardens can be designed for Animals too. Most of us enjoy the company of domestic animals. There are edible and herbal and medicinal first-aid plants that can be designed into the garden especially for your animals, keeping them healthy naturally. A garden created with your animals in mind can provide each species with appropriate activities, stimulation, exercise, natural habitat, texture, scent and enjoyment, allowing for the expression of a full range of natural behaviours. Happy animals are healthy ones, making for happier owners. Dogs, cats, rabbits, owls, birds, bats, chickens and bees all appreciate a good garden, and that means naturally organic.
If you are a wildlife lover your garden can be designed to cater for a diverse range of wild creatures too. Weeks can easily go by in the planning and creation of owl boxes, wildlife corridors, bog gardens for amphibians, bee borders, rock piles, hedgerows and wildflower meadows, all to attract and invite local wildlife. With all that going on, who needs TV?
We’re talking about unique and cleverly designed artful landscapes, alive and thriving with activity. Naturally edible and resilient, sustainable landscapes – multiple layers of added value for you, the owner, to enjoy.
- Read more food garden stories.