My Snacking Backyard – Avocados, Alien Caterpillars and Aibika

I’ve had this dream of creating a Snacking Backyard for the last few years. I’ve been planting fruit trees and perennial vegetables (not a huge fan of annuals) and the plan is to be able to walk around eating fruits and vegetables straight off the plants and trees.

The problem with growing fruits and veg in my backyard

  1. The soil is crap. When we ran our plant nursery we had soil tests done and not only is the soil devoid of nutrient, it also has a low pH which means the nutrient that is there is not available to the plants
  2. Other fruit and vegetable eaters. This includes grasshoppers (some the size of my hand, no kidding), possums (they love pineapples and mango), kangaroos and wallabies, and caterpillars (a current problem on my citrus, they are huge with a marble-sized head that they turn to you as if to dare you to touch them. But if you touch them they may curse you). Check them out:


    Alien caterpillars invading the Lemon tree. I don’t know if they use probes but they sure eat a lot.
  3. My inability to kill anything. To me, every creature is special with its own merits. They are here for a purpose just like I’m here for a purpose. Some may just spray with one thing or another but I prefer to let nature do its thing. Even if that means they get the fruit and I don’t.
  4. Rocks. Digging a hole requires a jackhammer. Or an unrelenting husband armed with crowbar.

What is growing

I’m finally getting there though. This year, after at least 6 years of dedicated care, I’ll be able to actually harvest something and eat it!

  • Passion fruit. Best thing I’ve planted. Not my favourite fruit taste-wise but versatile and nutritious. I have a Panama red and a yellow; these 2 love each other and they’re nice and close to each other so they can make babies. passionfruit-vine
  • Bananas. We’re now lucky enough to get tissue-cultured, clean banana plant seedlings. I get bananas and I’m not endangering Australias banana plantations. So far we ate 5 bananas (which truly were the best I’ve ever had), the parrots got 2 whole bunches, the excavator got 1 green bunch and Benji the dog got 10. Not a bad haul. Fingers crossed I get the bunch currently growing.banana-fruit
  • Mulberry Trees. These are super tough and a favourite for Snacking
  • Citrus fruits. Despite the Alien Caterpillars.citrus-tree
  • Aibika. Also known as Queensland Greens, awesome source of protein and chlorophyll. Aibika Smoothie recipeaibika-leaf-queensland-greens-manihot
  • Herbs like Parsley, Oregano, Mint, Perennial Basil, Coriander. Just leave some seed to set and shake the dry flower head over the garden.
  • Avocados. I grew mine from a seed and I’m a proud mama this year (7 years after planting!); I ate my first 2 avocados this year.
  • Sweet potatoessweet-potatoes
  • Pumpkins. These readily self seed if you leave a couple of pumpkins or toss the seeds back in the garden. An annual exception to the perennial rule. Pumpkin pie smoothie recipe
  • Choko (Chayote). 
  • Lychee
  • Grumichama
  • Taro
  • Galangal Ginger
  • Wild Yams/Winged Yam
  • Asparagus
  • Lemon Grass
  • Others I didn’t have time to list or forgot. Sorry guys.

Why these fruits and veg are growing

  1. Mulch. If you read nothing else, read this. Mulch is God for crappy soils. Go from zero to hero in 2 shakes of a bale of mulch. Cover, cover deeply, cover wholely, just cover yeah.
  2. Plant them on each other’s toes. Don’t grow neat little rows, grow a jungle. Read Jackie French books for more Backyard wilderness.

    Backyard Self-Sufficiency – this book has helped me so much. It made me realise gardens don’t need to be perfect to be good enough.


    The Wilderness Garden – one of my all time favourite gardening books. Out with common sense, in with the jungle.


  1. Water. We get our annual rainfall in 3 days which is very exciting when that happens. The rest of the year is gorgeous for Dutch tourists who hate rain because it rains there all the time, but useless for the garden. Plant in holes so water goes in the hole not down the road, and mulch to keep it there. Regular watering is key but they do establish and need less and less.
  2. Shade. Don’t believe the ‘must be grown in full sun’ rule. Queensland is hot. The sun shines so bright it feels like it’s coming from the ground and the sky at the same time. Trust me, your plants will appreciate shade! Grow tough plants around your fruit and veg and in amongst to give them relief, especially from the midday sun. They will grow tall if they want more sun.
  3. Oh, and chook poo doesn’t burn plants. Just a little rant of mine. My best Choko (chayote) grows in the chook pen, and the Basil won’t grow anywhere but. Same for cherry tomatoes. And no, They don’t taste like poo.

If you have chooks, grow plants in the chookpen. Chooks love Arrowroot, Comfrey and Chia and you get the rest.