watering our urban farm


People started to stop and ask what I was doing as soon as I spent time out the front.

My first task was to spread out the mountain of mulch over our front lawn.

Neighbours would slow down as they approached, look out the corner of their eyes, trying not to outwardly stare. I would always say hi and if they stopped, walk over to introduce myself.

I would explain that I was creating a garden and the lawn needed to go. Some tried to be helpful “you do know you can get a spray to do that?’ or ‘that’s not going to work, it will grow through’ but most just nodded, a little surprised.

One women stopped by, looking rather stern, after she found out I was creating a garden she went on to inform me that WE have water restrictions in Melbourne so why would I even consider making a garden. I gently explained that I was installing water tanks, a grey water system and with the garden methods I used water usage would be less then a conventional garden. Well, not happy that I seem to have an answer for her, she went on to say “well you will be in trouble if it doesn’t rain’, to which I responded “we would all be in trouble if it didn’t rain, in fact we would all die”. It took a few moments for that to sink into her mind, then she was off!

Now I realise that I didn’t make a friend here but would I really want to have such a negative person tut tutting to me on a regular basis about my urban farm?

Like most environmentally aware gardeners we set up water collection, used grey water and put on lots of mulch.  We also used curved garden beds to catch run off, this also gave us an interesting garden layout and somewhere for children to run around and play hide and seek.

garden beds curve to catch rain fall run off from the south and rich run off from the hen house.

garden beds curve to catch rain fall run off from the south and rich run off from the hen house.

Other water wise methods included using wood chip mulch for our pathways to soak up water and to be usable composting areas. Once a year we dig out the paths, either putting the composted wood chips onto the garden or into compost bins and then refill the pathways with fresh wood chips.

We also have a pond made out of an old children’s plastic sand pit shell. This collects rain water, allows quick watering of thirsty plants, grows some beautiful water plants, offers local wildlife somewhere to drink and a home for some local frogs.

Our new pond

Our new pond

We are allowed to use mains water twice a week for two hours and we did use this options a few time last summer. We have underground soaker hoses in some garden beds that can be connected to mains water or in the future will be connected to a main water tank.

We found with just 1000litre of rain water storage and our grey water redirection that we got by last summer, this summer we will have a 4000 litre tank, 1200 litres storage in wheelie bin tanks and pickling drums, redirected washing machine, shower and our bucket in the kitchen sink catching the fresh water. I don’t think we will need to rely on mains water at all this year.


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