Edible Backyard: A Gardener’s Dream

When Margaret Scott moved to her property on Main South Road, she had no idea that nearly two decades later she would have created herself an almost self-sufficient lifestyle. She originally chose the property for its north facing position with views, the design of the house, and its proximity to town, giving a rural feel whilst only being 5 minutes from Mosgiel and 20 minutes from Dunedin.

 

Margaret wasn’t much of a gardener when she moved in, there was just a lone apple tree already on site. It was after attending a dinner party where a friend commented that one couldn’t grow food year-round in this climate, that her interest in gardening began to grow.  She had always loved the idea of being self-sufficient so she began investigating what would suit the local environment and how she might be able to feed herself from her ¼ acre section. She joined a local gardening club and started learning how to grow fruit and vegetables all year round.

 

Her first plantings were a greengage tree and some asparagus beds.  “Asparagus is a perennial vegetable, meaning that once planted they continue to produce year after year. In fact, some of my early asparagus plantings are still providing a summer harvest,” Margaret says. 

 

The position of the house is as good as it gets for growing food. Being north facing, the garden beds tend to avoid the hard frosts that can be frequent in winter. The slight slope of the section allows all the beds to get maximum sunshine, which improves the growth rate, as well.

 

 

Embracing a permaculture style of gardening, she has managed to develop a low maintenance, edible backyard.  “By planting plenty of perennial vegetables with complementary plants in and around the beds, I don’t really do as much weeding as you would expect,” says Margaret. “My favourite tree has to be my walnut tree. Not just because it is one of my most producing plants, but they are delicious, versatile, and so healthy for you!”

 

The garden now boasts apples, pears, feijoas, plums, pumpkins, walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, and a variety of herbs including parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme. With enough space for two chicken runs, there’s always plenty of eggs for the Christmas pav!

 

“My cooking style certainly has changed. I build my meals around what is ripe today,” she says. “The large walk-in pantry gives me plenty of storage so I can preserve foods when they’re in abundance and enjoy them a few months down the track. When there’s too much for me to eat or preserve, I give away the excess to friends, neighbours, and the wider community.” 

 

By focusing on one project a year, Margaret continually improved the property and built this amazing food forest over the past 19 years. Double glazing was a game-changer back in the late 2000s, and the wetback fire was also a great addition. But, according to Margaret, one of the best decisions she made was to install the solar panels. After many years of research and with improved battery technology, she finally took on the project a few years ago and hasn’t looked back. “The sun is crucial to fuelling my garden and now it fuels my house, too. We even generate power on a snowy day when the sun is hidden behind the clouds,” says Margaret.

 

 

Garden aside, the design of the house itself is very well thought out. The position on the hill means the sun streams in during winter, but in summer when the sun is higher in the sky, the large porch helps keep the temperatures down inside. With an open plan kitchen, living and dining, three bedrooms, two bathrooms, internal laundry, and large pantry this is lifestyle living at its best.

 

Margaret has done all the work for you; the property is now well established and ready for someone to take over and enjoy the fruits of her labour.If you are looking for a more sustainable lifestyle, this could be the property for you. Brought to the market by Carissa Fraser of Harcourts Dunedin, you’ll need to move quickly to secure this treasure over the Taieri!