News National Coronavirus lockdown inspires garden projects across Australia
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Coronavirus lockdown inspires garden projects across Australia

Queensland's Bridget Larsen has used her time in isolation to grow tomatoes out of foam boxes. Photo: Bridget Larsen
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There’s no time for twiddling thumbs in lockdown. Not for these green thumbs, anyway.

Readers of The New Daily have shared their backyard innovations – and advice for beginners on a budget.

Jana Morgan, 59, from Mardi in New South Wales, has multiple sclerosis and can’t walk very far.

She wanted to grow fruit and vegetables without having to bend over or move around a lot, so she built a raised garden bed with the help of a friend.

Jana Morgan’s DIY garden bed. Photo: Jana Morgan

“I put polystyrene boxes in the middle, put weed mats on and put a trailer load full of dirt and manure on top,” Ms Morgan told The New Daily. 

She bought seedlings from Bunnings and set to work.

“Now I’ve got cucumbers coming out of my ears,” Ms Morgan laughed, adding she also had tomatoes, roquette, basil, blueberries and lettuce.

“You pay a fortune in the shops so I thought I may as well have my own supermarket in my backyard.”

Jana Morgan built a raised garden bed during home isolation. Photo: Jana Morgan

Sharon Easton, 53, from Perth Hills in Western Australia has converted an unused barrel in her backyard into a veggie garden.

“It took about three hours to cut it in half and join it together with wood, then took most of the day to finish of the rest,” Ms Easton said.

Sharon Easton’s barrel-turned-veggie-garden creation. Photo: Sharon Easton

Her DIY garden comes with a shade cloth to protect her cauliflower, lettuce, silver beet, chives and broccolini from the sun.

Her advice for beginners?

“Look out for what’s around in your yard; there’s always something to use,” she said.

Meanwhile, Leah Sheridan, 65, from Ocean Grove in Victoria, has turned her fairy garden into a tribute to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

“I have a six-year-old grandson who loves to lie back in the outdoor garden setting and watch the fairy garden,” Ms Sheridan said.

“He goes out there and he lays down waiting for the fairies to move. I told him ‘They don’t move if you’re watching them’.”

Leah Sheridan made a garden in the theme of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Photo: Leah Sheridan

Ms Sheridan said her grandson hasn’t seen the new fairy garden yet – “only photographs”– due to social distancing rules keeping them apart.

On Queensland’s Macleay Island, Bridget Larsen, 59, has used her time out of work to revive her “sorely neglected garden”.

She’s growing sweet cumquats, tomatoes, a mango tree and a dwarf lemon tree.

“Keep planting and don’t give up,” Ms Larsen said.

“It’s taken me three years. Everything died, but I thought, ‘No, I’m going to try again and don’t give up’.”

Others have made home videos to document their projects.

Archie Lappin, 13, from Cottles Bridge in Victoria, has made a wicking bed garden tutorial on YouTube.

“I made it myself, with a little help from my dad,” Archie said.

“It’s pretty easy to do and it won’t take long. It’s a really good way of passing time and doing something that helps the environment.”

Kimbal McMahon, 54, from Launceston in Tasmania is a remedial therapist, but has been left without work due to the coronavirus.

Kimbal McMahon’s “sanity saver” garden project. Photo: Kimbal McMahon

With extra time on his hands, Mr McMahon has renovated his front yard by adding a native garden, a water feature and Mediterranean-style raised garden beds.

“Give it a go – you can’t go wrong,” Mr McMahon said.

“I’ve made heaps of mistakes with this, but I’ve learnt heaps along the way.”

Farida Japardi, 43, from The Ponds in NSW, has tidied up her collection of succulents.

“I have a lot more time now because I don’t have to travel, so I thought ‘Maybe I’ll rearrange them to make my backyard look better,” Ms Japardi said.

“Around your house you can find a lot of interesting things to do – you just have to look.”

Farida Japardi with her children Joshua, 16, and Elizabeth, 10, and her succulents collection. Photo: Farida Japardi