Verge Gardening

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One of the benefits of my house is that I have a corner block and thankfully the longer side of my block is in a quiet street. The bad thing obviously is how much mowing we have to do!  Last year I took a cutting from my large frangipani tree and eventually this ended up on our nature strip (verge).  This year I planted a Mulberry tree in my house, but unfortunately I didn’t choose the best location. Rather than remove the tree altogether, I’m going to try and move it to my nature strip.

I’m not sure if I’m really allowed to do all of this. My Council is not one of those Councils that encourages verge gardens. In fact, my Council strongly discourages this. Not all Councils are like mine however. Some like Marrickville and City of Sydney Council are actively encouraging residents to plant and maintain verge gardens.

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A friend recently shared this video of the City of Vancouver and its verge garden revolution.  However planting trees is one thing, planting vegetables quite another.  When I first saw this video I liked the story behind it, but then thought ‘hey having vegetables grown so close to the road and encouraging their consumption – is that good?’ so I decided to find out.

My initial reaction really had to do with fumes from cars and run off from the road and houses entering the soil and thereby being taken in by the plant.  Was this safe? Well after much searching, I may have found the answer.

Lead

Lead is one chemical that can have significant health impacts to humans, especially children. Exposure to lead can lead to brain damage and impaired intellectual development. In Australia lead was prevalent in houses (paints) and petrol.   But its use in petrol was phased out from 1993 and in paints from the 1970s. Therefore, as most of the toxic issues related to verge gardens would be related to lead poisoning, that’s a good thing.

But that’s not the end of the lead story.  Lead would not only be found in the soil on your verge, it would also be found in ordinary homes such as mine.  Depending on the age of your house, if lead is likely to be found in paint work, it may be best to leave it alone. Similar to asbestos, if lead is left intact it is not likely to cause harm. It will cause harm if you damage it and disturb it so as to create dust. If this dust is inhaled, touched or let to settle on soil, that’s when problems may start to arise, particularly for areas where food may be grown.

A study by Macquarie University found that children were most at risk in that they absorbed more lead than adults. The study also found some plants absorb more of this toxin and then pass it onto people than others. Leafy vegetables such as lettuce, spinach and silverbeet were the worst offenders (sources: 1, 2 & 3).

While all of this may seem scary, there are ways to address this. Firstly, it is very important to test your soil before growing any food. Another way to address this is to have raised garden beds which is what I’ve done.

Apart from the toxins issue, those opposed to verge gardens may cite safety issues which are perfectly valid. These really have to do with the maintenance of the plants planted to ensure they don’t impact people’s ability to use footpaths and to ensure they don’t obstruct visibility for motorists. These issues are easily addressed however by having a set of guidelines in place for those that want to plant on their nature strip.

Other management issues with verge gardens include the application of chemicals such as pesticides and fertilisers running off into the stormwater system and ending up in creeks and other water bodies.  Again, this is where having a good set of guidelines that encourage organic gardening techniques would come in handy.

So with my health concerns related to verge gardens allayed, I hope to see more people participating in gardening. Participating in local urban farming whether through a verge garden or a community garden can only be good.

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Resources

To find out whether you are allowed to plant a verge garden, contact your local Council and read the City of Sydney guidelines.

You can also contact your local Council to see if there are any local community gardens that you can participate in. You can also check out this website: http://communitygarden.org.au/

Also, the presenter of one of the shows that I really enjoy watching is a big advocate of verge gardens. You can also check out Gardening Australia’s take on this through this LINK. There are loads of videos in the 2012 archives.

Let me know

If you already participate in a verge garden or a community garden, let me know your thoughts and share your story and pictures. I’d love to hear from you!

More garden excitement!

IMG_20150212_110710162 When I returned from the UAE to live in Sydney my avocado trees were sticks.  After three years finally – some avocados! Then, some just over a year ago, I planted a lone apple tree in my house not really expecting it to bare fruit because you’re supposed to plant at least two for cross fertilization. But yay a few apples, albeit small apples. Still it feels great to grow and eat my own fruit and vegetables in a suburb of Sydney! Enjoy.

Liebster Award

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Over the last month or so, I’ve had the pleasure of being followed by a few new blogger and  therefore in return checking out their blogs. One Blogger – Muslima in the World: Reflections on life… has nominated me for a Liebster Award. Thank you very much Muslima!

This award is about promoting other bloggers, particularly those with a low number of followers. So, firstly I’d like to thank Muslima for the nomination and wish you the best in your blogging endeavours!
Now, the questions you asked me and the answers!

  1. Why do you love blogging?

It’s a great way if expressing my thoughts and ideas with others, particularly other like minded people. I also like ‘meeting’ other inspiring people from around the world who are making positive contributions and I like the feeling of connection with other bloggers.

  1. What is your primary job?

I am a sustainability professional and a very busy mother!

  1. Have you gotten the benefits from blogging? If yes, please mention 2 of them!

I use it as a way to double check my own actions to ensure that I am in fact ‘green’ (no greenwash here folks!)

I have learnt a lot in the process and from other bloggers.

  1. What is your country and what do you like about it?

I live in Australia and I love it because it’s a wonderful place to live and raise my children. While I sometimes I bemoan the fact that it is so far away from the rest of the world and that this sometimes leads to an ‘island’ (isolated) mentality, I do also enjoy this fact, as it can feel a little bit detached from some of the world’s problems. It is also a beautiful place to live.

  1. Have you ever heard of Tunisia?

I most certainly have heard of Tunisia and dream of going there one day. In fact I have a great friend who is from Tunisia and she’s a real inspiring eco-warrior too!

  1. What is your favorite past time activity?

I love to garden and go bushwalking (hiking). I do also love to spend time with my children playing under a sprinkler, kicking a ball around or simply pottering around the house.

  1. How do you get the ideas for your blog?

I  get ideas from things that are topical at the time, things going on in my life or they just come to me to be honest. Sometimes I sit, have a think and jot down a lot of ideas. I then work through these  and refer back to the master list from time to time.

  1. Do you like sport? Which sport do you like?

To be frank, I’m not a super sporty person. I like to work out like in a gym, but I never get there. I do however particularly like jogging and yoga. I also find running after 3 kids to be quite a workout!

  1. What place (city in this world) you wish to visit in the future (Insha’Allah)? Why?

Hmmm….so many places …..well Tunisia is one, as is Morocco. I am planning a trip to Italy (Insha’Allah) later this year.  I love Iran, so would always love to go, see my family and some places within it that I’ve never been. I would also love to re-visit some of the other places I’ve already been like Cuba, Costa Rica, Argentina and Chile – well the whole of South America actually.

  1. What language do you speak?

I speak English, Farsi and some Spanish.

  1. What topics are you most interested in?

Sustainability, travel, gardening and cooking.

THE RULES

  1. Thank the person who gave you the Liebster Award nomination and link their blog to your post.
  2. Answer the 11 questions they asked you.
  3. Nominate 5- 11 bloggers for the award.  The bloggers must have 200 followers or fewer.
  4. Now Create 11 questions to ask your nominees.
  5. Make sure to let your nominees know you nominated them once you’ve posted about your Liebster Award.
  6. Add the Liebster Award badge to your blog!

Okay, so my nominees are:

Simply Ilka

Green Living in Dubai

CekCeksi

Yummy Green Mummy

The questions for my nominees are:

  1. Why did you start your blog?
  2. What do you love about blogging?
  3. How would you grow your blog while staying true to your core values?
  4. Where are you based what do you like about it?
  5. What is your favorite past time activity?
  6. How do you get the ideas for your blog?
  7. Do you like sport? Which sport do you like?
  8. What place (city in this world) you wish to visit in the future  and why?
  9. What language do you speak?
  10. What topics are you most interested in?
  11. Who do you find inspiring?