Pimp my Plants: Bush Tucker at Indigenous School


- by Costa


Alexandria Park Community School, in inner Sydney, is a green oasis in the middle of the industrial sprawl. The school, with its large indigenous student base, asked Costa to help them build a bush tucker garden to be used as part of the school curriculum.

Costa found a perfect spot to locate the garden. It has an existing tree belt; it’s protected from the sports field; it’s close to the school’s main entrance and best of all the kids have got a nice place to hang out and learn a little about bush tucker.

The kids are really excited about building a bush tucker grove. Aboriginal Education Resource Teacher, Joy Smith, believes the garden will have benefits way beyond the foliage. “It’s a bush tucker garden so the kids are going to be able to learn something of their heritage and culture.”  In fact each child will have responsibility to care for one plant and thus take ownership of the new garden.


•    If you’re building a garden bed where grass exists, don’t remove it. Just mow it close to the ground and then cover with a layer of wet newspaper. The grass will eventually break down and nurture the soil.
•    Spreading lucerne mulch over wet newspaper helps retain moisture and over time, it breaks down to help feed the plants.
•    Costa has bought a range of plants, including tea tree, grasses,myrtles, grevilleas and a eucalypt to help create diversity and habitat for birds and insects in the new garden.
•    A simple tea tree mulch path will enable the children to wander through the area to experience the garden and pick fruits to eat.
•    Deciding where to place the plants in the landscape is where the fun begins. When doing this set out the plants, while they are still in pots, and see how they look in different areas – so get your design right - before putting them in the ground.
•    To get your bush tucker grove off to a great start, dig some good size holes for the plants. Pour in some water then once the shrubs are in backfill with some planting mix, combined with some site soil.
•    Creating a bush tucker garden is a great way to engage children and it becomes a place that’s far more than a collection of plants, but somewhere that they can have fun and learn. Setting up a bush tucker garden at home doesn't have to be a major project. The best way to go about it is start small, with one or two plants and gradually build the collection.

•    Costa reckons some great species for a bush tucker garden include:
Lilly pilly Syzygium jambos – it has long leaves, and is a prolific grower, reaching up to 10m, but it can be hedged to about 2m or 3 In fact for a bushier look, keep it pruned. It’s a great bush tucker plant because it has fruit that look a little like an apple. It’s refreshing straight from the bush, and ideal for making jams.

Native guava, Eupomatia laurina – known as native guava because of the flavour and composition of the fruit, it has cream daisy like flowers and grows to about 3m.

Midgen berry Austromyrtus dulcis – grows to about 50cm, has pretty white flowers and edible, sweet tasting fruit and tolerates dry shade.

Native myrtle Backhousia myrtifolia  - also called cinnamon myrtle because of the spicy smell of the leaves which are used as flavouring in cooking. Grows to about 7metres and has creamy coloured star shaped flowers.

Davidson’s plum Davidsonia pruriens – produces a medium sized dark purple fruit that looks a bit like a plum, and can be eaten fresh. It grows to a medium sized tree.

Scribbly gum Eucalyptus haemastoma – planted to create dappled shade for the edible plants. The gum has a beautiful white trunk, with scribbly lines, which are made by a moth that eats its way up the outside of the bark and looks fantastic.
In this relatively small space


The total cost to build the garden included:
Plants: $450-$500
Lucerne mulch: 8 @ $18 = $144
Manures (cow and chicken) $120
Tea tree mulch: $60
Planting soil mix: $150
Truck hire/delivery/pickups $150
Total: $1085.00

For bush tucker plants try a specialist native or indigenous nursery in your area.

Costa garden soil and tea tree mulch from:
144 Harrow Rd Kogarah NSW 2217
Ph:  02 95994557

Costa got lucerne mulch and straw bales from:
Kensington Produce
2/19a Baker St Banksmeadow NSW 2019
Ph: 02 096667755

Costa bought plants from:

Randwick City Council Community Nursery
2B Barker St Kingsford NSW 2032
Ph: 02 93990933
Web: www.randwick.nsw.gov.au
Wirreandra Nursery
7 Wirrendra Rd North Ingleside NSW 2101
Ph: 02 9450 1400
Web : www.wirrenadra.com.au

Tharwa Propgation Nursery

21 Myoora Rd terry Hills NSW 2084
Ph: 02 94501967

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