September-October in our garden

Springtime moves so fast! And seems to go in all directions at once – wind from everywhere and then nowhere at all – hot, cold, wet, dry – and suddenly everything is blooming and seeding and exploding and chirping and laying and swooping. It’s all wild and colourful.


Peak hour in the nest box.

Eggs are back on the menu. The willy wagtail has been returning to direct traffic when we’re working in the garden. And the wattlebirds have started feasting on the burgeoning population of bees, who in turn have been foraging on all the flowers. Continue reading

Posted in permaculture design

July? nope… August Garden Guide

My Undoing.


It started out well…

Let’s just say July didn’t go entirely the way I had planned. First, the incredibly inspiring, sustainable-living folks I was really, really looking forward to meeting on our winter family holiday couldn’t be there after all.  Next, I couldn’t be there either, as both a pet and a family member needed TLC around home while recovering from accident and surgery respectively. So I waved goodbye to husband and child on the first day of school holidays and pulled my boots on.  I thought, on the upside, having a relatively quiet 10 days here would provide me with the ideal opportunity to catch up with my garden to-do list, starting with distributing a small truckload of compost and mulch – compost for the fruit trees and mulch for the garden paths – after I cleared out the tonne of soursobs. With plenty of tea breaks, of course, and a little pruning along the way.  But… Continue reading

Posted in permaculture design

June Garden Guide

In this edition…


  • Welcome to winter
  • Soil reconditioning
  • We’re all going a bit weed-mad
  • Chooks & Compost
  • June veg planting

Continue reading

Posted in dirty fun, permaculture design, planting, soil, vegetables, weeds, winter

May Garden Guide

In this edition…

  • IMG_20180418_090252.jpgHot and smokin’: Multi-functioning the pizza oven – turning the chilli harvest into chipotle seasoning; making pizzas (hey, who would have thought?); and overnight baked beans.
  • When shading isn’t shading: using shadecloth to capture light for subtropical fruit trees.
  • Preparing for winter (when we haven’t had an autumn): what to plant and what the garden needs right now.
  • All school holidayed out? One last thing to do in the garden with the kids.

Continue reading

Posted in autumn, children, community, Food, fruit, maintenance, microclimates, recipes, trees

A ‘RetroSuburban’ Case Study of our suburban patch.

lush frontOver the past month I’ve been digging deeply into David Holmgren’s recently released book, ‘RetroSuburbia: the downshifter’s guide to a resilient future‘. The book is based on the premise that for most households, making the most productive use of a promising suburban block is a more realistic way to apply permaculture principles than moving to acreage in the country. It features a ‘RetroSuburban Real Estate Checklist‘ (follow link for spreadsheet) to assess a property’s fitness for sustainability – and a series of real-life examples, also included on this page of the website.

east sideI’m using the book and the checklist to help structure a review of how our property retrofit has come along over the past 10 years and where we could take it from here. Making our progress quantifiable allows for comparison with the properties featured in the book so that we can gauge how we’re going a little more objectively. This month, my case study takes the place of the usual monthly garden guide (so please search the archive if you’re wondering what to plant and what garden jobs to do in April). If you’re thinking more broadly and long-term, read on 🙂

Andrew and I will also be speaking briefly about our retrofit process this Thursday evening (April 5) at the Joinery’s community dinner and film night featuring the documentary ‘Living the Change‘ – follow the link for details and tickets. Continue reading

Posted in books, building, climate change, community, courses, events, permaculture principles, planning

March Garden Guide – and accidental community newsletter


The weather outlook for the next three months suggests that conditions in Adelaide and much of SA are likely to be drier and warmer than average for this time of year as the La Nina system gradually breaks down during autumn. For our gardens, the main question is whether this means it’s worth continuing to grow summer vegetables or to switch to typical autumn vegetables around this time. Continue reading

Posted in autumn, maintenance, planting, seedlings, seeds, summer, water

February Garden Guide

How is your garden looking at this time of year? Have those couple of heatwaves battered it around a bit?

Here we haven’t lost many plants, but we’ve seen some of those prized mangoes get sunburnt, along with many baby persimmons, both of which had a long way to go before ripening – the result of choosing not to shade trees when it was inconvenient to do so. And when we finally did shade the mango tree, the biggest fruit fell off. Never mind, I have just been to chat to my friendly local Indian grocer, who has shared a recipe for green mango dip. Wish me luck! Continue reading

Posted in Food, fruit, maintenance, markets, permaculture principles, planting, raised garden beds, recipes, summer, vegetables, workshops