Sustainable Life: Create an edible oasis | HerCanberra

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Sustainable Life: Create an edible oasis

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No space? No worries! You don’t need garden beds to create something special.

It’s a shady summer afternoon underneath the grapevine.

There are bunches of sweet grapes, ready for harvest, large terracotta pots with flourishing fruit trees and a few small planter boxes bursting with basil, parsley and sage.

It’s an edible oasis! Here’s how you can create your own, on a patio or deck.

Get started with an edible vine

Choose from grapes, kiwi fruit and passionfruit in Canberra’s cool climate.

Grapes

Grapes are happiest in hot summers, with full sun, when they have plenty of water to drink.

Choose a grape that’s for eating, so you can pluck them directly from the vine…as you read a book in the shade below. Grape plants are best sourced in early spring, as a bare rooted vine.

They like to be planted directly into soil, so if you’re creating your oasis on a deck—pop the grape down below. Grapes need a structure to grow on and they will comfortably grow over the top of a pergola if space is available.

Be sure to prune your grape quite hard, especially the first autumn to encourage growth in its roots. Your first grapes will be ready for eating in your grape vine’s second summer—delicious! Grapes are the hardiest option in edible vines.

Kiwi fruit

Kiwi fruit have the boy and girl thing—big time. You’ll need two kiwi vines, grown right next to each other, to get fertilised fruit.

Kiwis grow, and grow…and grow—so far and so fast. They have gorgeous flowers and delicious fruit. Plant bare-root kiwis in early spring. They’ll need a structure to grow on, preferably a large pergola.

Kiwis are a little fussy—they need plenty of sunshine and don’t like to dry out. They also love their soil to be well fertilised. Our hot, dry summers can mean the end, even for large and established vines.

Passionfruit

Canberra’s cool climate needs a special sort of passionfruit—be sure to get your vine from a local nursery in early spring. Even then, it will need to be sheltered from frost in the early years of its’ life… but with plenty of sunlight.

Passionfruit loves a rich soil and can cope with a little watering neglect. They love to climb and a pergola is perfect.  You may need to get up there and train it, to get coverage over the whole pergola.

Enjoy a bounty of gorgeous, tropical fruit—from your own garden.

Add some fruit trees in a pot

Citrus trees grow nicely in pots. They also look beautiful with their dark green leaves and brightly coloured fruit. Choose large terracotta pots, rather than wine barrels, as the terracotta holds moisture better—saving on both water and watering time.

Citrus trees are frost sensitive, so put citrus pots against your home in the wintertime and in the dappled sunshine for the summer.

Consider a range of different citrus trees, including lemons, Tahitian limes, kaffir limes, oranges, mandarins and cumquats (for making jam).

Create space for herbs

A box that’s bursting full of luscious, leafy herbs gives you a reason to harvest from your edible oasis, all year round.

Have two boxes, one that’s full of perennials—herbs that die back in winter and re-grow in summer—and one that you plant for each season.

In the perennial box, consider sage, chives, oregano, thyme, French tarragon, winter mint and Vietnamese mint.  Most of these perennials are best grown from cuttings or small plants.

In the box for annuals, consider planting seeds for summer with basil and parsley.  In the wintertime, consider planting seeds of coriander, dill and parsley.

Don’t be shy when you harvest your herbs. Most herbs can be cut right back, to just 4 or 5 leaves, and they’ll bounce back. Don’t be afraid to let excess plantings flower, most herbs have pretty, delicate flowers.

Feed your oasis from home

All of the plants in your oasis will appreciate a rich soil or liquid fertiliser applied in autumn and spring.

The easiest way to create this soil or fertiliser is to make your own—using a worm farm or Bokashi bucket. Both take food scraps from your kitchen and neither smells when it’s properly working.

You can source Bokashi buckets online and worm farms are available at Bunnings or the Canberra Environment Centre.

Make it beautiful

A string of fairy lights, or Moroccan-style tea light candles can create magic. Add a comfortable outdoor setting, beneath the vines and amongst the fruit trees.

Your setting doesn’t need to be new, consider sourcing something rustic from the Green Shed.

Simply add a lick of paint or a table cloth, to complete your beautiful, edible oasis.

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