The two kitchen gardens on this blog – while only 22 kilometres apart – are in quite different climates. In VG's hill's garden, some hundreds of metres of extra altitude mean a shorter growing season and the ability to grow cool-climate crops like berries and cherries.
Down here on the Adelaide Plains, and moderated by the sea in St Vincent's Gulf nearby, the climate is somewhat warmer and berries and cherries struggle, while citrus and stone fruits do better. So here’s a brief list just to show the great variety of fruit that can be grown within easy reach of the kitchen and the cook.
Fruit trees in this suburban Adelaide garden
Apples, mandarins, Valencia and Washington navel oranges, olives, Satsuma plums, grapefruit, lemons, purple and green figs, chestnuts, sultana grapes, freestone and clingstone peaches, almonds and Lady Finger bananas – all these provide fruit and nuts from this garden throughout different seasons. There are berries, such as boysenberries, raspberries, Kiwi Fruit, josterberries and of course, strawberries, but these are fairly recent additions to the garden and are not yet prolific bearers. Some common fruit trees are missing at the moment – persimmons, pears, prunes, passionfruit, nectarines, walnuts and apricots. These will be planted out into the new orchard, once it is fully enclosed to keep the parrots and possums out.
The major limitation to gardening here in Adelaide is water; rainfall occurs reliably only in the three coldest months of the year, and peak production in the garden occurs six months later during the long hot and dry Mediterranean-style summer. While we grow just as many crops during winter as in summer, holding water over from the rainy months to the summer months is all important. Every roof is connected to rainwater tanks, which have a total capacity of about 70 000 litres, or about one month’s supply when the heat’s really on and consumption peaks at 15000 litres per week. Just not enough. And with ‘peak water’ costing nearly $3 per 1000 litres from the town supply, making up the gap means water bills of $45 per week. The garden has to be productive to supply the replacement cost of water in store-bought fruit and vegetables. Mulching and drip irrigation help water use efficiency.
So here (below) is the view from the deck outside the back door of fruit trees, easy-to-reach vegetables and herbs and the main rainwater tanks down on the back-right. This is the ‘kitchen garden’. Not visible – and off to the left – is the main production garden where ‘bulk crops’ are grown.
What is not so obvious is the large ‘sump’ area between the gardens in the foreground and the background. This is the area where we hang our washing to dry in the sun on a pull-out clothes line from a box on the left-most wall. Once this area was lawn, which always looked lousy unless freshly cut, and which had the highest maintenance cost of the whole garden, thanks to petrol driven mowers and trimmers needed to maintain it. Food output was zero. Now it’s been converted to kitchen garden, and all this middle area is covered deeply with wood chips from an old gum tree that died in the front yard. Here all the runoff from the concrete driveway ends, sinking once more into the earth and supplying the surrounding fruit trees throughout summer. The wood chips prevent evaporation, and is pleasant underfoot.