WICKING GARDEN: Matthew Morton (front) and a friend water the wicking gardens which hold a reservoir of water.
Peter Baker: It will be a lovely shady spot in summer
designs cheery, bright and colourful, and welcoming.”
Each Friday afternoon, the youth club swarms to the garden – drawn like bees to nectar.
Shelley Kelly’s planter box design of chickens was a favourite for Zac and Zoie Bassett, who delighted in talking about their chicken Sprinkles and the joys of eating eggs.
As up to 20 children range across the garden, Zoie said she’d learnt a lot about fruit.
“I’ve learnt that rockmelon takes 10 weeks to grow (and) we have to water it,” she said.
Older brother Royce, who rejoined the youth club four weeks ago, munched on his favourite garden foods.
“I like the food that’s here – the sorrel tastes really sweet,” Royce said. “My second favourite food is the mint because it’s so sweet.”
When the project began, BIEDO contributed the services of their gardens manager Prue Leng, who was later replaced by Tamara Kelly.
Ms Kelly’s garden knowledge was learnt from her father, who was a gardener.
“He had rotational pheasant pens – he would spell them and grow vegies,” she said.
She extended this knowledge into her former job as an environmental educator, where the children would “bring things back to me and I would tell them about it”.
Through this process of self-driven discovery, Mt Perry’s youth have learnt to compost, save seeds from their kitchens, provide habitats for solitary bees and experiment with wicking gardens.
“We’re experimenting with vertical or horizontal (wicking) gardens,” Ms Kelly said.
“There’s a reservoir of water underneath instead of soil.
“With holes about halfway, the moisture is kept at the bottom.”
Having watered the soil until there were no more bubbles, some children began planting potatoes in pots while Luke and others were off to explore the native bee habitats.
The young gardeners have been experimenting with different solitary bee habitats from blocks of wood with holes drilled in them to small plastic or bamboo pipes.
“The difference between a bee and a wasp is the bee eats pollen,” she said.
As Ms Kelly farewells the youth, she reminded them they were welcome to come during the school holidays.
There will be mulching, watering and planting to do, tomatoes and rocket to be harvested, beetles and bees to observe.
Mt Perry residents who would like to participate may contact Ms Kelly on 0429 138 669 or biedogarden@burnett. net.au.