- Vegetable Garden
- NZ Native Garden
To find a property in their price range that offered a 3000sqm section, much of it in 40 year old native bush so close to the city, was more than Lucy and Jacob could have hoped for. Straight away they could see that this somewhat neglected property was full of potential, the perfect place to bring up their children and to fulfil their passion for self-sufficiency and restoring bio-diversity. Before any of this could happen however, there were some big decisions to be made – and a lot of hard work ahead.
Purchased from the original owner, who had taken a, shall we say ‘laissez faire’ approach to the garden, the section was almost entirely in the shade for much of the day. If anything was to grow here, some very large exotic trees had to be removed to let light in, and free up space and nutrients. Though the decisions were difficult, the benefits were almost immediate.
In just over a year Jacob has established a thriving vegetable patch in the back garden that looks like it’s been there for years. Everything here is heritage variety, grown from seed and though much of the garden would still be considered ’low light’ it’s amazingly productive. For these first-time vegetable gardeners it has been a huge learning curve but an incredibly satisfying one, fuelled by a shared mistrust for big commercial growers, and a belief that we need take control of our own food supply chains.
But perhaps the most exciting part of this property for its new owners is the native bush. Planted 40 or so years ago in a mixture of pines and natives, their dream is to restore the native bush using eco-sourced, local plants and seeds. Again this will involve the removal of some massive exotic trees, alongside some very serious pest control measures – against possums, rats, goats and even deer! Together they have been researching the plants that would have originally grown there, with a view to restoring biodiversity, establishing an understory and nurturing a sanctuary for native flora and fauna… and their whanau.
Originally trained in the family business as a pounamu carver, Jacob now specialises in e-commerce and direct to consumer strategy. When he’s not in the garden, or the bush, Jacob works for a conservation business in Newtown, that designs and manufactures cutting edge predator traps - bring on Predator Free 2050! Lucy works full time from home as an accountant, and together they are raising two young boys Archie and Mack.
Seeing what they have achieved in their garden in a little over 18 months, it’s hard to believe that this couple had very little practical gardening experience prior to purchasing this, their first home. While gardeners like Charles Dowding (U.K), Kay Baxter (NZ) and Kath Irvine (NZ) have provided a wealth of information, they have come to understand that having access to gardeners with local knowledge, about local growing conditions, is invaluable.
For them, gardening is also about tuning into and improving the local ecosystem. Jacob sees his current passion/obsession with growing natives not as separate to their vegetable garden but part of the whole. “There are just so many benefits to incorporating natives into your garden. Even if your focus is vegetable growing, it’s all connected – connected to soil health, the microbes and fungi in the soil - it's all about strengthening that complex web, restoring balance”.
We're passionate about supporting heritage edibles, doing all we can to increase biodiversity around our home (reforestation, predator control etc) and cold hard data - particularly on soil microbiology - exciting stuff ha!
It's so inspiring to see what Lucy and Jacob have achieved in their garden in such a short time. Their vegetable patch is super- impressive and I learnt so much about native plants that can be grown in the garden.- Portia