Steve McGrane in his sustainable garden at Korora.
Steve McGrane in his sustainable garden at Korora. Trevor Veale

Take a tour of sustainable gardens

STEVE McGrane will show visitors a very different type of garden when he hosts the Opal Cove Walk and Sustainable Garden Tour on June 26.

The Coffs Ambassador will be inviting visitors into his Korora garden where he has transformed a small urban backyard into a food forest.

At the end of a medium-grade 2km walk at Opal Cove to discover rainforest remnants and bush tucker plants, participants will be able to inspect a tiny Eden in the making.

On Mr McGrane’s 600sqm block is a two-storey house, chickens and more than 100 different fruits and vegetables which are being grown using organic, permaculture and biodynamic techniques.

This is a fascinating and very different garden, where every step means a new plant and a new idea on everything from drainage and worm farming to companion planting and nitrogen fixing.

“I started with two palm trees and two callistemons and the whole land was a torrent that ran like a river when it rained, before I put in swaling and succulent vegetative plants that sucked up the water – now even the neighbour is happy because there is less run-off,” Mr McGrane said.

Although he says he is less than three years into a 10-year plan, Steve McGrane is already growing and harvesting everything from grapes, plums, peaches and apples to papaws, bananas, finger limes, gooseberries and pumpkins.

He has re-thought the troublesome backyard compost bin with a neat solution using buried pipes in the centre of circular gardens which combines composting, worm farming and irrigation.

There are more ideas here than there are square metres in the garden.

He makes use of small-scale canopy trees, sacrificial plants to introduce nitrogen into the soil, swales and deep beds of gravel to direct run-off, trap nutrients and provide a welcoming environment for nitrogen-fixing bacteria.

Bookings for the walk and tour are essential and can be made by phoning Coffs Harbour City Council on 6648 4676. Places on tours are limited so interested people are asked to book early.

“I started with two palm trees and two callistemons and the whole block ran like a torrent when it rained – now even the neighbour is happy because there is less run-off”.



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