VIBRANT: The Gleneden Valley provides a picturesque backdrop to Fiona Morris' garden. Photo Shirley Way / Central & North Burnett Times
VIBRANT: The Gleneden Valley provides a picturesque backdrop to Fiona Morris' garden. Photo Shirley Way / Central & North Burnett Times Shirley Way

Gardening with bullocks

FIONA Morris's organic garden has evolved from chaos to the appearance of order since it was first planted five years ago.

The one-time paddock at Gleneden Organic Farm was fenced by her husband Rohan, who is known for his working bullock team.

"(Rohan) ploughed it up with the bullocks for me, which was very entertaining as I'm not heavy enough to stand on the end of the plough," Ms Morris said.

"There were no established beds - we just planted a row of this and a row of that (and) mulched the whole thing."

A couple of years later, Ms Morris decided to create beds and regain control of the garden.

Chook poo mixed with sawdust has been spread thinly over each bed, with the mixture not strong enough to burn the plants.

"I put mulch over the top and watered it really well," she said.

Between each bed is a thick layer of paper covered with two inches of untreated sawdust from Slack's Sawmill to deter the couch grass and to keep the moisture in.

"I recover the paths every six to 12 months, and the beds, because they're so thick with mulch I don't really have a big weed problem."

Ms Morris said the garden has thrived on "chaos theory" without chemicals and fertilisers.

"I don't really have an order of rotation - I go with chaos theory," she said.

"I think it really deters people if it's too ordered.

"The only rule of thumb I go with is 'if you take something out, put something in'."

Her second piece of advice was to never immediately replant what has been there before.

"If I take a crop out, I put compost on it and get something growing - even if it's just chucking out seeds from my spice rack," she said.

"Here, last time I grew beans, before that it was cucumbers, before that it was tomatoes.

"So (plant) something else and generally, preferably not the same family (such as tomatoes and potatoes)."

This year the European vegetable varieties had suffered, but with the rain and change of season, she was now planting some winter vegetables - peas, brassicas and cabbages.

"This time of year, I prune the capsicums back and the eggplants back," she said.

"They're actually a perennial plant that will last more than one year if you prune them down, so the frost doesn't hurt them so much.

"I planted some marigolds throughout and that attracts the good insects, but also nematodes and bad underground things don't like it."

Ms Morris has planted non-hybrid vegetables, meaning "they will grow true to form".

"It means if that seed falls down, 50 of them come up, then you just transplant them wherever you want them and you've got a seed bank."

Versatile plants included arrowroot and comfrey, which double as emergency feed for their small animals - goats, pigs and sheep - and the loofah.

"When you take the skin off that it becomes the body thing you wash your body with," she said.

"That's fantastic because it grows like a weed (and) out of every two or three plants, I'll get 50 loofahs."

But Ms Morris most admires the plants that "just appear".

"The plants will tell you when they're ready," she said.

"The lettuces will start appearing in the garden now from the season before, and I'll go 'great, I'll move you over here and move you over there'."

Each Saturday at 2pm from April through September, the Morris family hold a bullock team demonstration and conduct tours of their organic farm and garden. To book, phone: 0429137224.