Starting from Scratch

by Liz
(Melbourne, Victoria. Australia)

Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana)

Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana)

Hi all

This is not so much a question as a simple request for advice.

I have just moved to Melbourne Victoria Australia, and am basically looking at a small yard, a dog, a cat and two young children.

There were 14 Silver Sheen Privacy plants I have removed 6 and will remove the next 6 to make way for an edible garden. (Am keeping 2 as there is a bird nesting in one and the other provide cover for it)

1 Shovel down is fairly good quality grey clay, pity I am neither a potter nor know a local potter. I have now started planting with the dubious help of my children. I have planted a Blackcurrant, a dwarf Pink Lady Apple Tree and a Black self pollenating dwarf Cherry Tree. Which replaces about 4 of the 6 Silver Sheen plants. Now I am trying to work out the companion plants for these trees, especially the Blackcurrant. I not only want plants to optimise fruit yield, but those with benefits for the plant including the enticing of beneficial bugs and the repellence of the nasty bugs and illness. I am a bit over my head on this to say the least. Due to the kids the less thorns the better, and for the adults the more vegies, herbs edibles the better. For the pets nothing poisonous please.

Thanks for this.
Have been doing research and though the idea of permaculture is one I love, still getting my head around it due to limited practice and exposure to it.
So once more thank for any and all help

Liz :)

Hi, Liz --

Ah, the pleasure of gardening with children! My husband and I used to say that they "helped us ... take twice as long!" ;)

But enjoy their "help" ... this is where they will learn to either love or hate gardening, depending on how you approach it. So try not to scold them when you're in the garden unless they are doing something truly harmful to your plants or dangerous to themselves.

Now, about your trees ... the black currant won't get very tall, if I remember correctly (we have what they call "buffalo currant" here in Oklahoma - we have red clay here! - and it gets maybe 4 feet/1.5 meters tall), so if you are trying to create a privacy hedge, you may want to plant some of your dwarf trees behind them so that the hedge covers eye level.

Also, currants propagate by way of runners, so they can become invasive if you're not careful to dig up plants that stray out of where you want them. A barrier going down 2-3 feet/0.5-1 meter may help stop them.

If you're looking for a good companion for a fruit tree (and you like the taste) then horseradish (Armoracia rusticana or Cochlearia armoracia) is an excellent one. It repels pests that target fruit trees, and it likes shade (plus the foliage and flowers are very pretty).

Of course, any of the ground cover or low shrub shade plants would be wonderful around your fruit trees. Alliums such as garlic and onions are particularly good at repelling pests.

I hope this helps. Please ask further questions on this subject in the comment section below, or you're welcome to ask a different question by creating a new page.

Anyone have any other suggestions for Liz?

Comments for Starting from Scratch

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Sep 01, 2014
by: Liz

Hello everyone

Well here is an update. I have planted and left the Cherry Tree at the edge of the "garden patch". Near it I have planted a bit of garlic and as a front border I put down some Curly Leaf Parsley - Between the parsley and the tree is a small clump of Garlic Chives. About a mtr from the Cherry Tree and behind my mini hedge of Parsley I re-planted the Blackcurrants. Due the the information I was kindly given about their size I thought it would be of greater visual interest between the dwarf trees. Slightly behind the Blackcurrant plant are some Alpine Strawberries and in front are some Gauntlet Strawberries for variety and kiddies (of all ages)... Wonder if I can untrain the Lab from eating them? Ha! Otherwise the Parsley Hedge extends out a bit in front of the Blackcurrant Plant. On the other side of the Blackcurrant Is the Pink Lady Apple tree, whom I have just figured out (LOL) is not self pollinating, So I am thinking of Dual planting a Gala right next to it. Some more Chives around the apple tree. No garlic this time round. And until I work out where it goes the Rosemary has been planted all on its lonesome separate to the rest.

Thank you for the lovely idea of Horseradish but it is not a herb used in this house, though I am considering it regardless, I just want to see how what I have done gets along.

Also If I put a 50cm ground barrier in to restrain the Blackcurrant wouldn't that create a deficiency in it's soil? As well as create a barrier to helpful plants on the outside?

My next 4 trees (another apple lol) Apple, - still thinking about which one I would like, followed by Lemon, Mandarin and Naval Oranges. Can anyone tell me which are the sweetest brands that will grow well in South West Melbourne Australia. My Partner does not think the Naval Orange likes this climate...

Anyway all Thanks for your time and reading this :)

Hi, Liz --

The barrier would just keep the black currant from spreading out. You can add any amendments you choose and plant anything you like next to it. It was just a suggestion, if you didn't want it covering your entire property. ;)

Your garden sounds wonderful so far! We would love to see pictures.

Anyone have advice on oranges near Melbourne?

Nov 26, 2014
project continued
by: Liz

Well it's been a while since I updated you about my garden.

Around the Cherry tree I planted catnip, chives, wild strawberries, spinach, basil and parsley. They have survived, though the strawberries are working hard to gain a footing and flourish as is the basil... poor things anyone would think I bought miniatures! The garlic and cucumber simply disappeared. There is a bear patch of soil to the left of the cherry tree which seems to dislike growing anything as I have yet to find anything which can survive there. The catnip if allowed to grow gets to 1/2 the height of the cherry tree... about 50cms up! Pity the cat only seems to sniff it on occasions. The Spinach is doing great with leaves as big as my head... now to hunt recipes to do its wonderful flavor justice. Parsley's growing but not as fast as the spinach or catnip. Next to the catnip I planted the black currant bush, the leaves closest to the catnip do not seem to like the proximity. So have been hacking the catnip back and donating the plant cuttings to friends with cats.otherwise it appears to be happy and healthy. The Spinach in front of it as well as basil and strawberries (which something is eating) Are happy.

Now the Apple trees (pink lady and granny smith) they are growing. They have flowered but no fruit alas. Thinking of espaliering the trees. But in a less rigid way, maybe training the branches out now that I know they will survive where I have planted them.

The carrots are doing alright here... with the clay soil to deal with it will be interesting to see how the shape themselves lol. Now that I know Oregano likes wet feet I have been watering it more and it is happy as is the small strawberry plant besides it. There is also what I suspect is a sole surviving cucumber plant. We'll see. The onions are doing surprisingly well, tho the thornless blackberry appears to be doing it rough as well as the peas and corn. Most likely a nutrient issue.

I am about to embark on seedling propagation for some plants, Goumi bush and pigeon Peas. The Goumi will be interplanted amongst lemon, orange and mandarin trees as the are nitrogen fixers. Am thinking of planting some guava as well... what do you guys think? Anyways heres some pictures of what I have done... still plenty more to go and do. ATM I am only focusing on Dwarf varieties due to space issues... tell me what you think and any and all suggestions and advice is welcome :-)

Hi, Liz --

If you sent photos (how?) they didn't come through. Please email me and I can arrange to get your photos posted here.

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