Karen is available for consultations throughout Melbourne and country Victoria and interstate upon request.
Consultation & Design – why choose us?
If you’re looking for advice to help you grow healthy organic food in a beautiful looking garden; if you want to grow food easily despite your busy lifestyle; or you think that your garden can’t possibly grow food because it doesn’t have ideal conditions, you’ve come to the right people. Our gardens are permaculture inspired and nurture body and soul.
Choosing the right plants for a productive garden
Karen has been designing gardens for over 30 years, and brings a deep knowledge of the complex ways that plants interact with each other. She has grown thriving food plants in difficult and unexpected situations, from pots to paddocks, from wall gardens on Moomba floats, to her own very shady garden as well as exposed roof tops and nature strips. She draws upon an extensive plant palette so you are assured of an individual and interesting garden for your unique situation.
A truly productive food garden depends upon choosing the right plant varieties to suit your soil and micro-climate. Karen also takes into account your level of gardening experience and the time you have available. Her lifetime of food growing experience allows her to choose the right plant for the situation, even when shade and space are issues.
Attractive and edible plants
Productive gardens need not compromise on beauty. Many edible plants have unique ornamental properties to bring texture and depth to your garden landscape.
The colourful stems of rhubarb; silver foliage of coastal saltbush and the red egg-shaped fruits of tamarillos bring interest and impact to gardens.
Summer flowering agastaches in pinks and oranges, and the warm orange tones of perennial bell pepper fruits in winter provide seasonal accents.
Above, left to right, are some of our favourite plants. Colourful rhubarb, perennial bell pepper fruits, autumnal pomegranate fruit and yellow babaco fruits.
Coming from shady rainforests, avocados are the perfect plant for urban food gardening, where adjoining buildings may have blocked sun. Avocados can be grown all over Australia, but in many climates need protection from extremes of her and cold for the first 2–3 years with a shade cloth tent. Soil needs to be prepared well and up to 1 metre depth of well-drained rich soil is ideal.
Although avocados grow readily from seed, these plants are not guaranteed to fruit, and it is better to purchase grafted varieties. Avocados fruit better with cross pollination, so buy an A and B type. As these are big trees, they can be planted as duos, from 60 cm up to 1 m apart, so the two trees grow as one canopy. Hass and Bacon are good first varieties to plant.
For more information, check out our YouTube video.
Consultation and design process
Karen is available for short consultations through to detailed design work. She offers a three stage process for you to choose from to grow your garden:
- Stage 1: Seed – initial consultation (billed by the hour)
- Stage 2: Sprout – planting plans and instructions
- Stage 3: Harvest – more detailed and revised plans
Karen is able to give customised advice based on the detailed questionnaire she sends you to fill out prior to meeting with you, which prompts thinking about all aspects of an edible garden. She can also supply notes from her classes, such as vegetable growing, fruit pruning and wicking bed building, to help you with your garden.
Note on home garden installations:
Although we no longer carry out home installations, we can provide instructions to guide you through setting up your own garden.
Stage 1: Seed – initial consultation (billed by the hour)
Your edible garden journey can start with a one hour consultation, answering many of your garden questions, and this may be all you need at this stage. At a longer consultation of three to four hours, Karen can develop simple sketches to help you plant out your garden. Longer consultations are often used by country clients.
Stage 2: Sprout – planting plans and instructions
If you are looking for more information, Karen begins this process with an initial stand-alone consultation, at which she also quotes to developing plans for your individual garden needs, after having seen your garden and met with you.
Karen’s sprout plans present the layout of your new garden in concept form, showing paths, compost areas, sheds, chicken runs and other structures needed for edible gardening. Her plans also include all main fruiting plants, so important to get into the ground as soon as possible, as they provide the structure of your garden and take years to produce a harvest. Companion plants for under-planting are given in groups, rather than each one individually drawn.
Sprout plans also include instructions for soil improvement and also for planting. Also included is a personalised plant manual, to help you understand and use your plants to their full potential, as well as a fruiting calendar, to give tips on caring for your fruiting plants and when they’re able to be harvested.
Stage 3: Harvest – more detailed and revised plans
If you decide to have more detailed plans drawn up for you to carry out over time, this is a further stage that Karen can quote for. After you discuss your Sprout plans with Karen and give feedback, she revises and redraws your plans with any alterations you may require and all plants individually drawn.
Harvest plans also include instructions for soil improvement and also for planting. Also included is a personalised plant manual, to help you understand and use your plants to their full potential, as well as a fruiting calendar, to give tips on caring for your fruiting plants and when they’re able to be harvested.