Urban Abundance: Productive Small Space Growers

The Plummery sounds like a sprawling countryside property. Its garden beds grow an abundance of vegetables, with surrounding fruit and nut trees underplanted with shrubs, herbs and flowers. Bubblegum grape shades the house and there’s a greenhouse with bananas and babaco. A quail aviary sits by the side of the house and on the southern side are avocados, feijoas and a cherry guava.Yet all of this is contained on a 280 m2 block in Melbourne’s inner city suburb of Northcote, at the home of permaculture designer Kat Lavers. Last year, the Plummery provided 350 kg of herbs, vegies, fruit, eggs and honey, with Kat only spending half a day a week gardening. ‘Sometimes I dream about planting oaks and chestnuts, but the reality is I don’t have the time to manage more than I’ve got,’ says Kat.Kat is creative in overcoming spatial limitations, saying it has made her a better designer and gardener. ‘You can’t bury your mistakes under the rug!’ she says. ‘Observation and interaction are virtually constant and therefore so is the learning. It also means that you can concentrate your compost, mulch and water resources on a smaller number of plants. Many gardeners don’t get these basics right and have poor yields from much larger gardens.’