Marking out the garden

Today a small, keen group worked in the community garden to prepare for our working bee tomorrow to get ready for planting the fruit trees arriving this month.

The community garden is really a ‘food forest’ that will eventually include a wonderful mixture of fruit trees, berries, herbs and support trees that will grow into a self-sustaining ecosystem. We’re developing it following permaculture principles to create a diverse and integrated system that is rich in plant, insect and microbe life, and recycles nutrients and doesn’t need many inputs from us.

But, this takes years, and you’ve got to start somewhere — and we’re starting at the southern end of garden with the first ‘guild’ (as they’re called in permaculture jargon). This one will include pipfruit and stone fruit trees — apples, pears, nashis and plums (for a start) planted in an island with support trees between them to fix nitrogen, bring other nutrients close to the trees and provide shelter.

The planning is important, so we’ve spent some time choosing suitable varieties that will suit the site, which is an open space, a bit windy and with a light, sandy soil. We’ve gone for heritage varieties as much as possible, so we aren’t planting trees that need a lot of maintenance in the form of fertilisers and sprays to control pests and diseases. There are some wonderful old varieties of fruit tree whose fruit you can’t buy in the shops, and you can normally only get from home gardens — if you’re lucky.

Of course, it’ll be a few years before we can harvest the fruit. This weekend, we’re getting the site ready for the trees, and the food forest is starting to take shape. If you’re walking past, along the old Muri station platform, go through the gate next to the old shelter and have a look around.

Apologies for the poor sound quality — it was a bit windy up there today, which is why we need good shelter for the fruit trees!