Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Indigenous / Native Food Garden

The first plants in the Northcote Library Food Garden’s indigenous/native* food garden are in and appear to be enjoying their new home at the Southern end of the garden.

The indigenous/native garden was proposed way back in April last year in the community consultation phase of the garden’s establishment.  Members of the local community felt it would be fitting and beneficial to include an area that showcased the growing of native and local indigenous plants within the garden and the gardening group earmarked the project early on as an important ‘Phase 2’ action.  The indigenous/native garden’s inclusion is an exciting step towards the educational and sustainability vision for the NLFG as outlined by the community in 2011.

We feel the inclusion of the indigenous garden offers benefits including:
  • Educational – people can familiarise themselves with native bush food plants and see their viability.  Visitors will be able to observe edible natives and even taste the produce, possibly encouraging them to plant more bush foods in other private and public spaces.
  • Biodiversity – having a native food forest alongside the existing exotic food forest and vegetable gardens encourages pollinators such as bees, and attracts native birds to the area, which will eat insects and provide more natural pest control.
Gardeners tidy up existing native vegetation
The site includes many established native plants including eucalypts, grevilleas, correas, callistemons and acacia and these plants were maintained as an essential part of the ‘native food forest’.

The project had three phases:
1.  Identification of the existing native plants
2.  Researching and identification of suitable indigenous and native food plants for inclusion
3.  Tidying of the site, acquisition and planting of the first plants

The native forest garden design incorporates the existing natives from the tall eucalypts to the prostrate grevilleas to create a multi-layered native ecosystem. New plants were sourced from our local native plant experts VINC and other local nurseries.  All plants are labelled clearly and we plan to add further signage and annotations in the future.  Delicate varieties such as yam daisy (Microseris lanceolata), chocolate lily (Arthropodium strictum), vanilla lily (Arthropodium milleflorum), and bulbine lily (Bulbine bulbosa) are being grown in large pots at present so as to not be ‘overwhelmed’ and lost in the garden.  

Credit must go to Angelo and Damien, of the NLFG’s advisory group, who gave their time, expertise and enthusiasm to the project and several of our gardeners who, through their research and hard work, were instrumental to the project’s success.

The indigenous/native garden is an ongoing project and will be added to over time.

Pruning off lower branches on the newly planted macadamia tree

Useful links:
Merri Creek Management Committee - http://www.mcmc.org.au/

* Please note that here we have used the term indigenous to denote plants that are indigenous to the local Darebin area and native as plants that are indigenous to Australia, but not necessarily to the local area.

Matted Flax Lily  (Dianella amoena)
Native Mint (Menthos Australis) protected by twiggy tripod
Native Mint (Menthos Australis)
Cut Leaf Daisy (Brachyscome multifida) protected by plastic cover
Chocolate Lily (Arthropodium strictum) 
planted in pots to protect delicate foliage
Small-Leaf Bramble or Native Raspberry (Rubus parvifolius)
Common Apple Berry or Dumpling Apple (Billardiera scandens)
Nodding Salt Bush (Einadia nutans)

Text for this article has been contributed by Allison and Angelo