Beyond The Plot

Whaaaat? It matters what I do OUTSIDE my Plot?!?!

YES!

Unless you live in a high rise apartment and grow tomatoes in a pot (hey all power to you!) there is a crucial zone outside your Plot which can have a big effect on the success of your growing efforts.

Go outside and look just beyond your Plot. Do you have fences? Turf? Bare earth? Concrete? Weeds? Trees? Piles of junk mail?

Factors can either be working for or against you. Do you have large trees which root zones extend to your Plot and suck all the water out of the soil? Or do you have deciduous trees on the western side which provide shade from the searing afternoon Summer sun and allow sunlight through in Winter?

Do you have garden beds full of weeds which are spreading into your Plot? Or do you have flowers planted to attract valuable pollinating bees?

Along the Western side of the Plot I have 3 dwarf citrus trees. A Tahitian lime, Meyer lemon and (just recently) a ‘Pipsqueak’ seedless mandarin. These seem to wildly attract every citrus pest and disease known to man but provide a great visual backdrop to the Plot and will eventually grow to screen the ugly fence between my neighbour and me.

They will also eventually give me a lemon meringue pie and a lifetimes seasonal supply of delicious juicy mandarins. I’m holding onto this thought whenever I have to battle yet another onslaught of Citrus Leafminer. BLAH. Whenever my citrus row flowers (calling it an orchard is perhaps a bit far) the bees are INSANELY beautiful to watch and drift over the Plot and pollinate everywhere their merry little wings can carry them. Win.

Directly North of the Plot we have the backyard megasus playground of the world. This is a full shade section of our yard where not even grass would grow under a huge Poinciana tree (Delonix regia). Its waaaay too shady for growing anything other than prickles so was the obvious place for a sun smart playground. The theory was that I could happily potter about in the Plot while keeping a close eye on the lad who would quietly and gratefully amuse himself on the swings. The reality is that he loves the Plot as much (if not more) than I and he wanders up and down the isles pulling sugar cane mulch out of the beds and ripping any foliage off that is planted within 6cm of the edge. Sigghhhhh. Oh well. One day those monkey bars will lure him.

On the far northern boundary I/husband have just planted four large Magnolia Little Gems to screen out the neighbours back outdoor area. Because: fence+roof+gutter+downpipes+ brick wall = eyesore.

Yes this is a good 10m away from my Plot and won’t shade or really impact it physically but it WILL provide habitat for birds which, (if I am lucky) will hang around and eat some aphids. The large cream heavily scented flowers will attract bees and as I compost and improve the soil around the base I hope to coax a few more soil improving worms within my fenceline. Plus hey it means my eyes aren’t assaulted every time I look outside.

So – what can you do to improve your Plot OUTSIDE your Plot? Here’s some ideas:

Plant some deciduous fruit trees to filter some of that harsh summer sun:

  • Tropical apple
  • Peach
  • Plum
  • Nectarine
  • Pear
  • Mulberry

Plant some miniature citrus trees to give those precious bees more of a reason to come your way – and a supply of delicious fruit for you!

Grow some vines along those fences – turn them from an eyesore to an attraction!

  • Grapes
  • Passionfruit
  • Climbing roses

Remember not everything you plant has to be fruiting to benefit your overall backyard ecosystem. Ornamental flowering trees or shrubs all give more reasons for birds and bees to travel your way, not to mention create a pleasant backdrop for your next BBQ – with that lemon meringue for dessert!