Backyard Self-Sufficiency

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Our planet is a most beautiful place.

Gardens, the countryside, parks – with plants, flowers, trees, birds, insects and animals connect us with that beauty and all-important source of life. As a culture we have disconnected from our core – the planet.

We’ve forgotten how to enjoy the pleasures of Mother Earth – to grow fruit, vegetables, flowers, herbs, trees and shrubs for aromatic, aesthetic, healing, flowers, beauty, relaxation and productivity (growing our own).

It’s an amazing process – a miracle – for which we should be thankful every day. Our very own piece of earth – whether it be a large acreage of farm land or outback station, a country retreat, a suburban backyard or a few plant pots on the balcony – is a precious gift of the Earth – it is, therefore, our responsibility to treat it with the respect it deserves and utilise its virtues to the fullest.

10 Tips for Getting Started

Start the process by just doing a few simple things that help you and your garden reconnect with Mother Nature:

1. Plant lots of easy-to-grow plants, trees and shrubs (preferably native)

2.    Set up a vegetable and herb growing area

3. Aim to maintain: Nothing in – Nothing out.  Everything from the garden is recycled back into the garden.

4. Set up a compost pile (homemade natural fertiliser)hen

5. No Chemicals – chemicals upset the natural balance in the garden. Use natural sprays and fertilisers.

6.    Use recycled materials in the garden whenever possible

7. Manage your water supply

8.    No burning – it adds to air pollution.

9.    Keep hens or ducks

10.    Hang a bird feeder from a tree and install a bird bath and watch the birds feed and play.  Fill the feeder on a daily basis at about the same time – so that the birds become familiar with the routine. Sit and watch while enjoying a tea or coffee – you’ll be amazed at the pleasure and fulfilment it brings you.

Growing Vegetables

Nothing beats the sheer pleasure of using what has been grown straight from the garden into the kitchen! 10.Green Fingers (3) However – enjoying vegetable gardening depends on successful vegetable growing. Just one failure is sufficient to discourage most people. Make sure your first ‘crop’ is a good one.  Before venturing into the garden to plant start by growing successful produce in a ‘controlled’ environment. Then ‘branch out’ into the garden.  For a ‘never fail’ method for growing vegetables cheaply in recycled containers see e-Booklet No. 76 – Growing Vegetables in Containers – Price $8.00   (Available for instant download)  Click here to order.

Composting  (Homemade Fertilizer)

The key to successful vegetable gardening is composting.  e-Booklet No. 19 - Composting for Beginners contains all you need to know about successful composting.  Click here to order

Homemade Natural Sprays

Homemade sprays can be chemical free, cheap to make and very environmentally responsible. There is an array of common household ingredients that can be used to make garden sprays. Here’s a recipe to help get started:

Recipe: Soap-based Repellent Spray:    Mix two tablespoons of grated pure soap (from a cake of soap – do not use detergent)10.Green Fingers (5) with 2 cups boiling water. Stir to completely dissolve the soap.  Add 1 teaspoon hot chilli powder, 3 garlic cloves (cut in half) and 8 drops eucalyptus oil.  Pour into a large jar or bottle. Seal and leave for 7 days. Strain to remove garlic and any remaining grated soap.  To use: Dilute one part with 4 parts water. Pour into spray bottle. Spray liberally onto plants for deterring small sucking insects such as aphids, white-fly – it will also deter ants and caterpillars (with regular application).  Repeat as necessary.    More recipes in e-Booklet No. 21 – Safe & Organic Sprays.

Click here to order booklets for download or for more information about ’The Shoppe’ publications



Backyard Self-Sufficiency e-Booklet Set

Resourceful and environmentally responsible ways in the garden – recycling, composting, natural sprays & companion planting, successful vegetable growing in containers.

6 booklets: No. 36 Recycling & Improvising in the Garden, No. 19 Composting for the Beginner, No. 21 Safe & Organic Sprays, No. 41 Keeping Hens, No. 67 Growing Vegetables in Containers,  No. 78 Companion Planting Guide.   Price: $42.00  (Available for instant download)  ADD TO CART.


Living in Harmony with the Planet Workshops

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Backyard Self-Sufficiency Workshop

Format: Simple backyard or container vegetable growing; Recycling in the garden; Making fullest use of what’s in your garden – i.e. herbs, eucalyptus, etc, for cooking, cleaning, herbal products, deodorising, healing, insect repellents; Composting for the beginner; Creating an environmentally aware garden. Take Home Samples: Soap-based Garden Spray, Selection of self-propagating plants in recycled pots, Herbal Deodoriser Spray

Available soon as a Workshop@Home – Click here for information


Pam’s Post

10.Green Fingers (17) My garden is an extremely important stabilizing factor in my life. In it I find quietness, peace and safety. I consider it my own personal piece of earth – it’s not perfect – it’s in the middle of suburbia, worse still on the boundary of an industrial area of Adelaide, it’s overgrown in parts, it has (some) weeds (and lots of kikuyu!), it has some ‘junk’ yet to be sorted – but it’s mine – my very own ‘creation’.

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I do my best to keep it chemical free and utilize everything that I grow to the fullest – without wastage. I grow vegetables – my favourite past time – I have an array of specially selected herbs and scented plants that I have planted over the years and I just love sitting right in the middle of the garden to watch and listen to the little things in Nature – birds, moths, butterflies, ants, bugs, cats, possums – etc.  I just couldn’t live without this connection to Earth.  Gardens do not have to be perfect specimens of manicured art. It’s not necessary to spend copious amounts of money to find the perfect garden – creating a garden with recycled plants and materials is good for the Earth and it’s Nature’s way.

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The best time of the year is just after rain has fallen in early winter – the earth is renewed and the scattered seeds from summer and autumn begin to germinate ready for a new season.  I enjoy transplanting or potting the new plants -  it’s like Christmas in the middle of the year. The next best time is spring when it’s the time to plant summer bearing vegetables: tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, capsicum, beans, cucumber and the like.

Then every morning my ‘ritual’ is to sit outside with my coffee and toast (even if it’s for 5 minutes) to watch the young birds feed on fresh seed and assess the progress of my vegetables.  It gives me a great boost to start of the day.

Producing your very own crop of home grown vegetables is such a rewarding experience.   If you do not have the advantage of a back-yard plot (or larger) then a tub or two of newly planted spring seedlings will do wonders for your sense of ‘earth’.

10.Green Fingers (20)I am quite pleased with my recycling achievements too – I’ve done things like fill a rusty old wheel-barrow with soil and plant sweet peas for a wonderful display or used white polystyrene tubs as flower pots for a front display and growing tomatoes. I’ve painted old car tyres to use as flower ‘pots’ plus turned the cover of a children’s swimming  pool into a ‘green-house’ using old wooden curtain rods as the legs!  I’ve even re-used cat litter to create foot-paths! Plastic drink bottle sections are so very useful as seedling protectors – they deter creepy crawlies, cats and protects young seedlings from the cold early-spring wind!

- Pam Marshall