Breaking new ground

Make the world a better place with these smart ideas for a sustainable garden

**Produce your own honey…

**The steady decline of wild beehives due to varroa mite means that urban hives are now an extremely important element in the wellbeing and sustainability of our ecosystem. If this idea appeals, start by researching the National Beekeepers Association website at or talk to a reputable beekeeper. Consent may be required from your local council to set up hives, but small numbers of hives are generally allowed to be kept in urban areas provided they are properly managed and not causing a nuisance.

**Set up a composting system…

**If we all composted our food and garden waste, New Zealand would experience a 30% reduction in land-fill content and a significant reduction in methane gas emissions – one of the most damaging greenhouse gases produced from the anaerobic breakdown of organic waste. This garden displayed traditional compost and worm bins plus a new option, which can be stored under the kitchen sink. It’s called the Bokashi Compost Zing System and it’s available from Ecostore ( It’s clean, easy to use and produces useful soil conditioner in super-quick time. Simply throw the contents on the garden when they’re ready.

**Redirect your rainwater…

**Prevent nasty pollutants reaching streams and harbours by redirecting rainwater from the roof into a pond, where water plants begin the purification process. In this garden, overflow was channelled via a series of pipes to lower-level garden beds where plants, including native swamp astelia (Astelia grandis) and native sedge (Baumea complanata), further purified the water. Plants not only purify rainwater, they also absorb a fair amount, lessening the total runoff into stormwater systems.

**Start a mini orcharad…

**Even the smallest garden has room for a few fruit trees. Topiary mandarins make wonderful features and produce masses of fruit in mid to late winter. Ballerina apples grow to 4m high and a very compact 30cm wide. Feijoas, figs and citrus can be grown in large containers. Blueberries, cranberries and Chilean guavas make wonderful small hedges and there are dwarf varieties of apricot, cherry, nectarine and peach to add to an urban orchard. For further information, you can visit or

**Make your own eel pate…

**This idea was my favourite but, I have to concede, not on my New Year’s resolution list! The pond pictured is actually an eel tank, which formed the central focus of an entirely sustainable Kiwi back garden. It’s an excellent idea for creative cooks and probably a lot less problematic than bees. Eel pâté anyone?

**Put the right plant in the right place…

**Ask any experienced gardener what their best advice to an amateur would be and they are likely to reply “make sure that you plant the right plant in the right place”. A little research before you begin planting will improve your long-term results and prove easier on the wallet as you’ll have fewer casualties. The Cape daisy and African rush (Elegia tectorum) pictured were part of a border of tough natives and exotics ideal for hot, dry places and water-conscious gardeners.

**Grow your own

**You don’t necessarily need a dedicated vegetable patch to live by this year’s catchphrase “grow your own”. These edibles looked right at home in a lovely cottage garden. The stylish containers are from Europe, but practical Kiwis can put obsolete recycling bins to good use by planting with spuds, herbs or lettuce. once you taste your success, you’ll be keen to expand your edible garden and, before you know it, you’ll be giving away armloads of silverbeet!

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