At Neutrog, there’s nothing we love more than hearing stories from happy customers who have used our products to help create their dream garden projects. This month we’re shining the spotlight on Heather Ryan, a local resident of Warrnambool in regional Victoria who has passionately created a productive organic community potager. Her no-dig community garden has produced outstanding results with the help of her admirable passion for gardening and the use of Neutrog products along the way. We’re so impressed with her hard work and community spirit and it brings us great joy to share this with our readers.
Although she’d always been a mild gardening enthusiast, Heather didn’t seriously get into gardening until her early 50’s when she and her hubby purchased a property on two thirds of an acre on the edge of the Barossa Valley.
The property was underdeveloped, with just a few native trees planted across the back to act as a windbreak. The soil was reactive clay, which ended up wet and sticky in the winter and produced big, wide open cracks in the summer. With rainfall around 480mm a year, the long hot summers and cold wet winters made gardening a challenge.
Heather and her husband were up for the challenge. They worked hard on landscaping the garden beds, planting deciduous trees (including Manchurian Pears, Prunus, Crabapples and Forest Pansy), dwarf fruit trees, 120 roses, perennials and a raised veggie patch. It wasn’t easy, but Heather loved seeing her hard work pay off and a true love for gardening blossomed.
After they retired, Heather and her husband moved to Warrnambool, a regional town in Victoria to a property with just a courtyard and no garden. Missing her large property and with an aching green thumb, Heather decided to join her local community garden. She leased an 8m x 4m plot to grow a few veggies, herbs and flowers.
The plot was basically sand, so she worked on improving the soil health by using the 4M’s principles: manure (green and animal manures), minerals (rock dust), mulch (lucerne and pea straw) and microbes (GO-GO Juice). Heather was first introduced to Neutrog products 20 years ago, so she had faith that our products would be successful in improving the health of her soil. When planting with a green manure, she also conditions the soil with Seamungus and uses Go-Go Juice when planting seed.
Inspired again, Heather then planned and worked on a herb and sensory garden as well as a mini food forest at the community garden to be used as an education centre for members, school children and the wider community. The herb garden consists of medicinal, kitchen and Asian herbs along with shade herb beds. The sensory garden has been planted with herbs, perennials and annuals that arouse the senses of sight, touch, smell, taste and sound.
This is an achievement Heather is very proud of, as it is used as part of a tour offered to school children, aged care groups and gardening groups where she gets so share her work while educating the broader community.
She now works as a volunteer in the kitchen garden programmes at two local primary schools where she helps teach children how to sow, grow, cook and eat from their own school community gardens.
If you want to see the incredible work that Heather is doing on her community garden plot, check out her photos on Instagram by following @heathers_community_garden_plot.
You can also find out more about the excellent services and workshops provided by the Warrnambool Community Garden here.