Plant Life Balance

Good Enough to Eat

Living in a classic inner city Sydney terrace in Alexandria, Geoff and Julie Carroll have created an edible oasis just a few kilometres from Sydney CBD.

How would you describe your home when it comes to trees and plants?
Our terrace home has five gardens. We have a verge with Australian natives complementing the Callistemon that was already established. Our front garden is primarily Himalayan weeping bamboo which softens the exterior of the house and provides privacy for the stairwell. We have a garden under the stairs which is an extension of the front garden but in our lounge room.

The courtyard garden provides light, thermal and aesthetic comfort for the whole home. Two large counterweighted doors allow entry to this garden via the use of an antique farm wheel mounted on the wall. Rain from the roof runs down a chain through the counterweight and into the underground rainwater tank out the back.

Finally, the rear yard in which every plant species is edible. This garden includes an aquaponics vertical garden with large fish pond underneath integrated into bench seating, a second vertical garden integrated with the compost system below, a rain harvesting system from the carport roof that feeds into the wicking garden beds for fruit and vegetables, and a chook house for three chickens. We have tried to create positive feedback systems as much as possible, for example feeding food and garden scraps to the chooks which give us both eggs and fertiliser for the garden.

Why do you have all this green, what does it do for your life?
We love the calming aesthetic of being surrounded by plants, especially when the lines between inside and out are blurred. We have found maintaining gardens in a small property much more manageable and enjoyable compared to a large garden.

Do your family and friends enjoy the space, how do they interact with it?
Our friends and family love the garden. When people come over they unconsciously make their way through the house and sit in the yard, see what plants are growing and play with the chooks.

How about you, is it fun and relaxing?
We get a great sense of satisfaction from growing and eating edible plants, along with the lucky dip of seeing what comes out of our compost!

What’s the best thing about having your own green oasis?
Being connected with nature and experimenting with different systems.

What’s your favourite plant in your home?
A papaya grew expectantly out of our compost last summer that has given us a large tree with an abundance of fruit! The Himalayan weeping bamboo out the front is very soft and receives a lot of compliments from neighbours.

For first time gardeners, what’s your hot tip for starting out?
Experiment and learn! By all means, use expert help but a healthy and productive garden is the fruit of the successes and failures that come from experimentation.

Get the Fantastic Feasts look and plant list (and more) in the Plant Life Balance app. Download it for free from the App Store or Google Play.