About

Hi there. Welcome to my blog.

This blog is all about my ongoing journey growing fruit and veg in my own backyard in suburban Melbourne. I grow the majority of my own fruit and veg, as well as keeping ducks chickens for eggs. I garden because:
  • Its fun!
  • The garden produce tastes so much better than what I can buy, even the good quality organic stuff.
  • I can grow things I can't buy, like spaghetti squash and 57 varieties of apples.
  • I'd rather potter around the garden for half an hour after work and gather some food for dinner, than spend 30 minutes in the supermarket.
If you would like more detail and background, read on.
I grew up with my parents and grandparents growing a few bits and pieces of edible plants in their backyards. I vividly remember my grandmother pulling carrots out of the ground when I was probably around 7 or 8 years old, and being amazed that under all that frothy green was bright orange carrots. Also the bumpy cucumbers she used to grow which we always ate for lunch quartered lengthwise with salad dressing. I remember peaches from tree we used to climb as big as my hands; unfortunately that tree had to get pulled out to move the washing line as it was shaded by the next door neighbours trees – a week later they chopped the trees down. So cruel! My parents still grow tomatoes and onions and lettuce and rocket and a whole bunch of other stuff, though now it’s more of a (mostly friendly) competition.

I'm also a dietitian in my working life, and I am one of those dietitian's who loves food. Really good food. I've always grown a bit of my own food. I had my own area in the family veg patch when I was a teenager, and when I lived in share houses and rented apartments in my early twenties I carted pots from place to place including perennials like herbs and a lemon tree in a massive heavy terracotta pot. That thing was hell to move between places. (Now it lives in the ground in the front yard and seems to be very happy there.) It always seemed worth the effort to have fresh herbs, or a few tomato plants home grown. The flavour was so much better and it took so little effort for so much reward.

So for me growing my own fruit and veg is part nostalgia, and part just not being able to buy as good fruit and veg (particularly fruit), even when its the most expensive organic, farmers market produce (lovely though it is) as I can grow myself. And I like growing things. It's fun.

Now living in my own place and with a just over 750m square block of land my love of good food has grown exponentially. Over the 4 years I've been in this place I've built up a collection of 101 fruit trees/bushes, multiple berry plants of many varieties and of course the veg patch of both perennial and annual veg. I practice mostly intermingled ornamental and edible planting, with the idea that fruit and veg should not be relegated to the least used corner of the garden.

The front yard and back yard house most of the regular fruit trees, with the orchard containing the majority of the espaliered apples as well as some of the stone fruit. The raised bed veg patch probably grows half of my veg, with the rest inter planted amongst the ornamentals and fruit trees in the front and back yards.

This is my garden, circa 2014.


1 - Apricot Moorpark
2 - Almond (self-pollinating)
3 - Espaliered pears (Buerre Hardy, Conference and Williams) in a Belgian fence style
4 - Plum Prune Splendour
5 - Plum Ziegler
6 - Thornless blackberry
7- Thornless blackberry
8 - Lychee
9 - Apple (cider) Dabinette
10 - Cherry (sweet) Merchant
11 - Cherry (sweet)
12 - Cherry (sweet) Simone
13 - Apple (cider) King David
14 - Lillypilly
15 - White Mulberry
16 - Banana
17 - Mango Florigon
18 - Lemon Eureka
19 - Pear Durondeau
20 - Cherry (sour) Kentish
21 - Peach Anzac, now also grafted with Fragar and Blackburn Elberta
22 - Orange Valencia
23 - Step-over apples Pink Lady (6)
24 - Cherry Regina
25 - Orange Cara Cara (red fleshed)
26 - Evergreen blueberry
27 - Apple Dr Hogg (named after the well know (in apple circles) pomologist and a good cooking apple)
28 - Apple Bramley's Seedling (another well known cooking apple)
29 - Cherry Napoleon
30 - Apple Andre Sauvage
31 - Step-over apples Woodbridge Winter Pippin (6 - including the 5 drawn plus one in the duck pen not noted)
32 - Mandarin Imperial espalier
33 - Tahitian Lime espalier
34 - Raspberries (summer fruiting) Willamette, unknown variety. (It was mislabeled as a golden raspberry, but it is definitely not golden. It is however, delicious.)
35 - Raspberries (autumn fruiting) Heritage, Autumn Bliss
36 - Cherry (sour) Morello
37 - Grapevine unknown variety
38 - Raspberries (summer fruiting) Sandford, Chilcottin, Nootka
39 - Peach Donut
40 - Gooseberry Champion
41 - Gooseberry unknown variety
42 - Nectarine Giant Queen
43 - Redcurrant
44 - White Currant
45 - Peach grafted with my parents' excellent late yellow cling stone variety unknown
46 - Apples (33 varieties) espaliered in a cordon espalier style
47 - Apples ( 3 varieties) espaliered in a modified KNNN (knee, navel, nipple, nose) style
48 - Apple Huonville Crab
49 - Fig (white type, variety unknown)

Many of these are still young trees (under 3 years old) and are yet to fruit. But its always exciting to see if this will be the year.

The veg garden holds more variety year to year, being mostly annual plants although I do have some perennial veg including the asparagus patch and plenty of artichokes. The raised bed veg patch follows a 4 year crop rotation system, while all the extra stuff I want to grow gets shoved in wherever it will fit in the front or back yard.

In 2011-2012 I challenged myself to grow 50% of my own fruit and veg consumption. I grew 65%.

In 2012-2013 I re-challenged myself to grow 80% of my own fruit and veg consumption. I grew 83%.

I would say nowadays my garden produces somewhere around 70-90% of my fruit and veg, depending on the season.

I love the idea of being (as one of my many gardening idols, Jackie French, says) almost self-sufficient. I grow my own produce primarily for flavour and good eating, but I also dislike the current unnatural, if not downright destructive, food production systems that provides most of the fruit and veg produce available in supermarkets. I shop mostly at farmers markets myself, not least to get my hands on what is generally fresher, better produce but also to better support farmers and give them more opportunities to get a fair return for their produce. I refuse to eat commercially raised chicken or pork, and most of my farmers market purchasing is meat and poultry products. Besides the ethics, I also think it tastes a damn lot better. I've raised ducks for meat in my backyard in the past, and would be tempted to raise more if I had the space for it. I currently have the chickens for eggs which suffices for backyard protein.

Thanks for visiting. I'd love it if you left a comment to let me know you've been around.

10 comments:

  1. Hello. Your blog is very inspirational. You make it look so easy. I am looking into starting my own small garden to nourish my family and friends but I dont know where to begin. I have a small back yard and looking at your blog alot can be done with this space... What advice can you give me on where to begin this journey and what can be grown in this season. I want to grow my most sed herbs, cucumbers, bell peppers, onions, tomatoes and a variety of greens but again I dont know where to begin... Thanks and keep loving on those plants... The universe appreciates people like you... Tua

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    1. Hi Sheunte Sam. Thank you for your kind words, they made me feel quite chuffed. Cheers!
      I'd be inclined to start small, because it is really easy to want to do everything and take on too much, particularly if you've never grown anything before. I'd maybe pick two or three plants that are the top priority (eg tomatoes and peppers) and start with them. Maybe add some greens like perpetual spinach or silverbeet because they grow so easily. Also what you grow now is going to depend very much the climate in your area, so try and find some local resource (clubs/plant nurserys/seed companies/bloggers) that you can find out what is good in your area.

      Also, I'd start with mostly hybrid varieties of plants. They are tougher in general, whereas a lot of heirloom varieties of plants are weaker and a little harder to grow.

      And if I had my time again I wouldn't build anything permanent (like raised beds) within the first two or three years, because you learn so much about microclimates, where the sun falls during the different seasons and how to maximise the space over time. I've been constantly modifying my garden when I've realised I should have set things up differently, and its meant I have done a lot of things twice (or three times in some cases!) when with better planning they would have only needed to be done once.

      I hope this helps. Good luck and let me know how you go. :)

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  2. I'm glad I came here your blog is motivational and inspiring. I tried to write a post in my blog about my first garden and hope I justified my garden in my blog post.

    I can take many other ideas from your blog to apply in my garden.

    Can you check my garden and comment if I am lacking something. It will be a great pleasure

    thanks ...

    link to my garden
    http://happytomeet.blogspot.in/2015/04/happy-to-meet-my-first-garden.html

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    Replies
    1. I'm glad you have found it helpful. I will have a look. Cheers.

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  3. Hello! I found you (again) through grass roots. I had read your website before and, as we bought our own place and needed to be out in the garden, forgot to keep reading! I was delighted to see you in the magazine and came back to pop in again for a read. You look like you have done some fabulous things! Stacey in WA

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    1. Cheers Stacey. Thanks for visiting again. I hope your garden is growing well too!

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  4. may I come have a look at your garden in Melbourne? Im also in Melbourne and have been growing vegies and fruit trees for years, and love gardening and growing varieties supermarkets don't sell. Gen

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    1. Hi Gen. I'm flattered you want to come and see it. Email me at beksbackyard[at]gmail[dot]com and we should be able to tee something up. Cheers, Bek

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  5. Fantastic Bek, you have made such a positive impact and Im sure you have inspired so many that you will never even know. I've just found your blog and was expecting you would be in the US and was thrilled to see your in Melbourne. i can't wait to keep reading your entires. Im in the hills region and love what you have done. I'm also having a go but much lower scale. Hmm thinking Ill add more now. Keep it up and keep blogging please.

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  6. Hi Jill. Thanks for your comment. As you can see blogging has been on the back burner lately due to family things, but hopefully I'll be able to get a post up soon.

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