GREEN THUMB: Denni Thompson in her backyard food forest at Tewantin.
GREEN THUMB: Denni Thompson in her backyard food forest at Tewantin. Michele Sternberg

Local backyard is a forest of edibles

TWENTY years ago Denni Thomson said goodbye to her big grassy backyard, replacing the turf with 40 fruit trees, dozens of varieties of edible plants and mulch from 100 bales of hay to create a suburban food forest.

Denni has never regretted the decision to create her slice of peace and harmony, which she called Shalom, and proudly introduces me to her plants on a tour of the 1100sqm block at Tewantin.

There are the usual peas, beans, cherry tomatoes, passionfruit vines, strawberries, paw paw, bananas, mangoes, avocados, nasturtiums and marigolds "to keep the nasties away”.

But Denni also has dozens of exotic varieties including dragon fruit, persimmon, taro, tangelo, fijoa, sour sop, sapodillo, water apple, lychee, cape gooseberries, syzygium jambos, rollinia (Brazilian custard apple) and sapota.

She uses watermelon vines, sweet potato and nasturtiums as ground cover to serve a dual purpose - they are good to eat and keep the weeds at bay.

"My permaculture garden was designed by Geoff Lawton (who now runs Permaculture World) on February 2, 1996.

"The property was grass and an orange tree and lemon tree in the back, cabbage palms at the front, two hoop pines down the side and much grass to mow,” said Denni.

"I hate mowing.

"Now I only have this little bit of grass on the footpath; the rest is gardens.”

Permaculture designer and consultant Jason Davies said he was "amazed and thrilled” when he first saw Denni's food forest.

"It is so established. I would love to see every back yard looking like this - no grass, just edible plants.”

Every day Denni wanders throiugh the garden harvesting, pruning

Denni says what she needs now is a little help around the garden from like-minded people who would be keen to share the work and the fruits of their labour.

Anyone genuinely interested should phone 5447 1872.

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