Holly from Melbourne, Australia

“My garden is a journey, and it’s not at its full potential at the moment, but it’s a place I’m very proud of. I’ve been gardening on and off for a few years but in the last 2 years I have started moving on a journey towards self sufficiency and a more permaculture style garden and lifestyle. I am still on that journey and move a step closer everyday.

About a year ago I had a full mental and physical breakdown, I was not able to function like a normal human being. I slowly found the peace and serenity that the garden can give and the amazing healing power of the earth, the soil, the food. I started growing food to heal my mind, my body, and the earth. I got quite unwell and went to a functional medicine doctor who told me all about the toxic chemicals that I had been absorbing through my diet and what it was doing to my body and my mind. He told me to start eating an organic diet, when I went to the supermarket to get organic produce I saw the prices were a lot more than I wanted to spend and also the variety of choices I had was near non-existent. That sparked the idea of growing organic produce for my husband and I.

Once making my decision to grow organic produce in my backyard I started watching and listening to a lot of permaculture documentaries and teachings opened my mind to what is actually happening in the world around and how we as gardeners can heal the soil, and help reduce food miles by growing our own food and also help with our carbon issues. We live in the rural-metro edge of Melbourne, Australia. My main growing space is about 5.5m x 3m, but I have things growing all over the place. I grow a wide variety of veggies and this year just planted my mini orchard along my nature strip.

We live in a cool temperate area so I grow root veggies most of the year around, greens, squash, beans, peas, peppers, eggplants just to name a few. The mini fruit forest will be producing plums, mulberries, pears, apples, apricots, lemons and avocado. I’m always experimenting with new things to try so my selection differs. I have hot compost bins working away giving me nutrient rich goodness for my garden. I also live on the rural edge of Melbourne so there are a lot of farms around me so I have access to animal manure which I add to my compost and garden. I also top my gardens with organic sugar cane mulch which protects my soil for the wind and sun, and helps with my water consumption. If your soil is healthy your plants will be healthy, which in turn attracts the good bugs that help with pest management.

I have a greenhouse that was custom built by my Dad and I propagate and seed all my own plants. My plan is to eventually have a space that is large enough for a mini farm with food production and some animals. At the moment I rent and only have a small space to grow, I rely on pots for a lot of my garden, which are scattered around the yard. Also, at the moment the weather here hasn’t been the greatest for squash and pumpkin, I’m having a lot of issues with powdery mildew on some of the plants.

My biggest rewards are knowing that I’m growing nutrient rich food for my family, helping in healing our bodies and also healing the earth.

If you feel broken, alone, not enough, try growing a garden. I was a broken person that couldn’t even get out of bed without falling apart, but having my patch and joining a community like the gardening community has helped me to heal, to realize how amazing life is. Just look at a small seed, you plant it, nurture it and soon you have a huge tree. You see life and beauty in everything around you once you open your heart to the world of gardening. Also, knowing you are trying to create a healthier earth for the future generations is an amazing feeling. You are amazing, you have purpose, we are all in this together!”