At the ripe age of 70, sporting a spinal injury, North Nowra gardener Doug Black pushes a wheelbarrow of produce to a Nowra soup kitchen each week.
Doug’s backyard is abundant with limes, figs, chillis, chokos and his proudest creation of late; a pumpkin spanning 42cm.
READ MORE:Doug Black’s garden feeds an army
“The backyard’s too big, I have a broken spine and a busted arm,” Doug said.
“My doctor says, ‘you’ve gotta slow down,’ but I just can’t.”
Doug also grows corn, lemons, oranges and passionfruit to distribute to organisations that feed the homeless.
Living alone in a two-storey house, Doug’s spirit of generosity sustains him.
“A bloke told me, ‘I don’t know why you grow all that food, you can only eat so much,’ I said, ‘I know, but I give it away,’” he said.
“I give it to the needy, soup kitchens and stuff, that’s how I get a good feeling.
“I’m going to cut that pumpkin up into quarters to take to [a soup kitchen in] Sydney. It’ll make a lot of pumpkin soup.
“I get a lot of the pumpkins down to Herbert at the St Michael’s soup kitchen, he needs a medal.”
He also donates food to Nowra City Church.
Doug’s top five gardening tips
1. Work out which aspect your veggies like the most
“The sun over here is very, very hot. Some vines like to be facing north-south, some veggies like to be facing east-west.”
“I make my own soil up with chicken manure, organic compost and a little bit of lime. Lime sweetens up the soil.”
3. Weed prevention
“I cover my garden bed over with two layers of weed mat, the bottom layer with holes in it. And then you water it, it keeps the moisture in, all the worms come around it. When you’re ready to plant, you roll back the top layer of shade cloth, and fertilise the ground.”
4. Citrus trees are thirsty
“I use citrus powder to help them grow. Lemon trees, limes, orange trees use a lot of water. See, I have six water tanks, they hold 16,000 litres of fresh water and they’re all full. All that water I use for the gardens.”
5. Spray pepper or chilli around garden beds to keep out the cats
“I use the old chillis that have been bitten and chewed use them in a bottle with vinegar to spray around the garden to keep the cats off. Cats don’t like pepper or chilli type of stuff.”