New for 2016: Creating Sustainable Gardens


Sustainable gardening in Canberra with tutor Edwina Robinson

Tell us about your course “Creating Sustainable Gardens”.

We take a really practical look at dealing with climate change. It’s going to be hotter and drier, so we look at the ways it will affect your garden and how you can plan for those things. Is it growing more big shade trees that will still allow solar access in winter while providing summer shading to the roof and walls? Is it growing climbers up your walls or shading the roof of your house to reduce electricity consumption and air conditioning usage? We talk about all that and more.

It’s also doing things like creating a microclimate, working out how you can position water features, trees and plants to cool the environment.

Can you tell me a little bit about microclimates and the techniques you’ll cover?

Well, once you’ve established your trees and plants, you draw the cool air they create into the house and then vent it out at the top of the house where hot air rises. A good microclimate creates what’s called a Venturi Effect through the house, where the cool air is continually sucked upwards and circulation continues.

The course also talks about planting shelter belts and windbreaks and how they can serve multiple functions; there are plenty of plants that can do double duty and provide food as well as shelter. One of my passions is avoiding food waste, so we touch on that by talking about how you can integrate fruit and vegetable plants into your garden.

I’ve also had experience in developing an aquaponics system, where your fish and vegetables co-exist symbiotically. We’ll discuss the pros and cons, and what didn’t work for me when I started out versus what’s working now.

Do you need a big backyard to do this course?

No, I don’t think you need to have a big garden, and there are plenty of ideas for people with a balcony. CIT Solutions already runs a course on balcony growing, but some of those people might be actually thinking about the future; both how to make the most of what they have now and what to do when they have some land in the future.


Edwina’s tips for sustainable success

Save landfill by growing your own.

Did you know that apparently one in five shopping bags just ends up in the garbage? If you grow your own food and compost, you’re less likely to be wasting something that a lot of energy has gone into producing – whether that’s the bag or your apple cores.

Don’t let your soil determine what you grow.

Think really carefully about improving your soil. Don’t accept the soil you’ve got – you want to add lots and lots of organic matter to your soil. You can go from growing really basic, drought-hardy plants to the sorts of food crops you’ve been dreaming of!

Enrol in Edwina’s fascinating and useful course on our website

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