In recent years there has been an awakening to the unique agriculture practiced by Australia’s Indigenous peoples. Indigenous Author and Historian Bill Pascoe has been pivotal in opening our nation’s eyes to these past practices. So what can the Australian Suburban Gardeners learn from the oldest surviving farming culture on this planet?
The value of Indigenous food crops or “Bush Tucker” is an obvious lesson. Having evolved in Australia these plants are typically low maintenance and drought tolerant; especially those with provenance in your specific geographic location. Try purchasing them from local specialist nurseries where they are often cheaper and come with the benefit of expert advice. Native plants provide habitat and food for our native fauna. Many of these small insects, birds, lizards and mammals can be highly beneficial to the garden and a joy to observe. Bush Tucker plants will also provide you with an occasional crop of interesting and highly nutritious food. Just a few examples include berries such as Muntries and Lilli-Pilly; leaves such as Warrigal Spinach and Coastal Pigface; roots such as Chocolate Lily and Native Ginger; fruits such as Kangaroo Apples and Finger Limes; and seeds such as Wattle and Native Flax. There are options suited to all Australian locations and garden sizes.
The role of fire in Indigenous Agriculture may also be adapted to our suburban gardens with the application of charcoal to the soil. Australian soils are notoriously low in carbon content and our Indigenous peoples recognised this and used charred plant material to enrich the soil. A Bio-Char recipe is contained on this website.
The way in which Indigenous people and culture interact with the land is also a potential inspiration and guide for all Suburban Gardeners. An appreciation of the interconnectivity of all things inevitably leads to greater understanding of how natural systems work and a respect and love for the earth. We begin to work with nature rather than against her. Which is precisely what Natural Farming and Gardening are all about.
NaturalGardenOz acknowledges the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the first inhabitants of the nation and the traditional custodians of the lands where we live, learn, work and garden.