June 7, 2011

Cooper Creek Residents Digging for Sustainability

Residents in the Cooper Creek catchment have started a no- dig garden in the first of four sustainable landscapes. The gardens have been generously offered by residents to provide real life projects for locals to actively learn how to build a sustainable garden from start to finish.

Under the guidance of landscape architect, permaculture designer and experienced organic gardener Steve Batley and landscape tutor at UNSW, Ben Norman, both from Sydney Organic Gardens, each week residents will learn different aspects of designing and installing a sustainable garden. As participants learn they will transform an actual garden. Over the four week course, participants can take home valuable knowledge and skills to implement into their own backyards, slowly creating whole sustainable neighbourhoods and friendlier, social neighbours.

So far the group has worked on the sustainable design process, including site analysis, wish list creation and concept development, all having a turn at mapping their own backyards. They then built a compost bin learning valuable tips for getting the wet/dry ratio correct.


  • Compost tip: Grow Comfrey near your compost bin. It’s easy to grow and as you trim the leaves, throw them into your compost bin; they will speed up the breakdown process.

The group also had a quick lesson in seed sowing and creating potting mix.

  • Interesting seed sowing tip: Did you know that seeds do not require sunlight to grow, just a warm area.
  • Great potting mix recipe: ½ sand, ½ coconut husk. Mix thoroughly, fill up pot and plant seeds according to packet instructions.


Week two saw the group concentrating on systems in your backyard, and learning howto identify these. By working with the natural flow of your backyard you can make less work of gardening and free up your valuable time. For example, it makes sense to plant herbs and vegetables near your kitchen.

The group also then starting planting out a vegetable garden bed, layering the heights of vegetables to keep in line with the formal architectural design of the house.

The next workshops will concentrate on water management, pest management, Espalier fruit trees, maintenance considerations and lots more.

With three gardens left to transform it’s not too late to become involved! Contact Celia Busteed at [email protected]

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