Article: Gabi (Canberra Organic – Spring 2020). Photos: Jo Kirwan.

One person’s trash is another’s treasure

Truer words than the above were never spoken when it comes to searching for a solution for a rambling butternut pumpkin that wants to spread east across a well-used pathway, as well as north, south and west!

Raised garden beds at BCG made from recycled materials. Photo: Jo Kirwan
Raised garden beds at BCG made from recycled materials. Photo: Jo Kirwan

Many gardeners at the Betty Cornhill Garden (BCG) — formerly known as the ‘Cotter plots’ — are committed to re-using items that might otherwise end up at the tip. Old screen doors, mattress springs, shock absorbers, metal and wooden clotheshorses/ airers, fan-covers, freezer baskets… these are just some of the items that end up on the plots at BCG as part of the commitment to re-using items that were made for another purpose. These would often be discarded and destined for landfill.

The Green Sheds at Symonston and Mitchell prove a never-ending source of similar items that others might consider ‘junk’ but which when covered with a pumpkin vine or providing a snow pea with a climbing frame, look completely at home in the garden.

Old freezer baskets can be repurposed to protect plants. Photo: Jo Kirwan
Old freezer baskets can be repurposed to protect plants. Photo: Jo Kirwan

BCG is set in an historic area of Canberra and boasts a view of the nearby Yarralumla Woolshed with Telstra Tower as a back-drop. The Molonglo River and Yarralumla Creek are within a few hundred metres of the garden.

Late last winter a couple of avid BCG gardeners noticed that a section of corrugated iron roofing on the Woolshed was being replaced. Keen to ensure that the old roofing was put to good use and preserved for posterity, they approached the workers and asked if they could have some of the old roofing. Within a few weeks several raised beds had been built made from pallets collected from local businesses, old fencing ‘rescued’ from skips, and the roofing. They now host a variety of fruit and vegetables ranging from tomatoes and strawberries to corn.

They tell a story… a story of the first COGS garden and its neighbour, a well-utilised historic Canberra building — the Yarralumla Woolshed. Yes, the motto ‘waste not, want not’ is certainly one that many BCG gardeners have adopted. Now, anyone for zucchini marmalade on toast and rhubarb cordial?