GREENING THE DUNES
Good Organic Gardening|September - October 2021
A MINE WORKER BUILDS A GARDEN BY SHIFTING HALF A METRE OF SANDY SOIL AND SWAPPING IT FOR ORGANIC VEGIE MIX
Jana Holmer

Dalyellup Beach, where the Indian Ocean meets the Tuart Forest just south of Bunbury and two-and-a-half hours southwest of Perth, is that rare Australian location that experiences four seasons a year.

Living so close to the beach, Joyce Jordan says the sun shines there no matter what the season. Even when it rains, which is usually in winter, there’s a warm breeze from the ocean. Autumn is cool and spring is beautiful, with light breezes and warm sun.

Not that she’s always there. Joyce is a crew trainer at a lithium mine in the red dust of Marble Bar, where she drives trucks and trains crew. With temperatures as high as 50°C, the Pilbara mining town rejoices in the title “the hottest place in Australia”.

When not flying out of Port Hedland and driving into Marble Bar, Joyce enjoys the rather balmier surrounds of her lush garden, the banana tree in particular: “It’s been growing in leaps and bounds. Each time I return from Marble Bar it appears to have grown another leaf. Leaves become broader and little bananas appear.”

Her Dalyellup property is essentially 558sqm of sand dune overlooking stunning bush and manmade wetlands. When she arrived, she says, “the soil had no life. It was completely sand — salty, dry, no nutrients in the soil and water disappeared quickly.”

To establish her garden, around 20m by 2m in area, she approached the job like a miner, excavating the sandy soil to a depth of about half a metre and distributing it to parts of the backyard that needed building up. It was replaced with six cubic metres of vegetable mix and organic matter.

“Then we put in the vegie mix and planted fruit trees and seedlings and topped it up with four bales of pea straw with more to come,” she says. Irrigation was installed and paving put in for access.

She got free seeds and plants from the Bunbury Urban Gardeners (BUGS) Facebook page and collected foam boxes from the Bunbury Farmers’ Market when buying groceries. Into the boxes went organic compost and vegetable mix and she’d start seedlings in them before transplanting into prepared organic garden beds.

“Some seeds were sown directly into the garden beds,” she says, while carrots, turnips and pumpkins started self-seeding when she dug into the old compost heap while planting a mango tree.

The result, she says proudly, is “like a vegetable oasis in a sandy, concrete suburban area surrounded by parklands and walking tracks. Every house around us has either concrete or fake grass and a frangipani or succulents and that’s it.”

IN THE BLOOD

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