Kerry Battersby from Laidley, Queensland has created her patch of paradise in a relatively short amount of time. Her garden also played an important part in her recovery from lymphatic cancer. Here is Kerry’s garden story.
First of all how would you describe your garden? (What do you grow? What is your climate like? )
We live in the Lockyer Valley, QLD, known as the ‘salad bowl’ of Australia. Our climate is temperate, subject to light frosts in winter and flooding rains in summer, our soil is poor, on the acidic side, and needs compost and conditioning. We moved here 4 years ago, to a garden with good bones but a mix match of plants. The local farmers markets provide an array of plants and we think the previous owners purchased ‘one of everything’ for the garden. We started an orchard and vegetable patch on the 1.5 acre plot, and maintain the cottage-style and native gardens around the house.
How did you get started in gardening?
We bought a house and the garden came with it. We need space and dislike suburbia, but as we both work full time, we need the plot to be a manageable size, so my husband cuts the grass weekly on his ride-on mower and I work the garden beds.
What motivates you to get up and garden?
I love the activity of creating a space, digging and watching the plants and weeds (!) grow. There is a freedom and vitality – it’s a true therapy to work in the garden. I play music on my headset as I work and within minutes I can be dancing in rhythm with the music in the garden. I feel great during and afterwards, I have accomplished a task to satisfy my Type A personality, and released my creativity at the same time.
What were some of the unexpected hurdles in your garden? How did you deal with them?
A distinct lack of money to spend on improvements, so we did a lot by hand. My must-have tool is the mattock which is a family heirloom, it belonged to my maternal grandmother and I am sure she is watching over me as I enjoy gardening as much as she did.
What were some of the unexpected benefits from gardening?
Is there a gardening moment that stands out for you?
My diagnosis of lymphatic cancer in 2012 and our decision to treat it with detox and nutrition, meant I spent 3 months developing the vege patch from scratch. I dug out the beds with my grand-mothers mattock, and because we needed leafy greens in a hurry bought seedlings from the local farmers market, planted, watered and cropped the plants within weeks. I was growing six varieties of lettuce, kale, rocket zucchini and spinach and opting for this treatment instead of hospital poisons. It’s not the prettiest vege patch, but it worked! The patch struggles in summer with the heat, and I have since purchased three Gardenware Easy Tunnels with incredible results, and am saving up to purchase more.
What has your garden taught you?
To live in harmony with nature’s days and seasons.
If you were a fruit or vegetable, what would you be?
Beetroot – it’s my favourite colour – and it’s a blood cleanser for cancer sufferers.
What tips would you offer first time gardeners?
Watch your garden for the first year, see what grows best, then make tough decisions – remove what doesn’t work and create a garden you can utilise and enjoy.