The Garden that Grows

garden || cityhippyfarmgirl

It’s 5.30am and there is a grey stillness to the morning. Although light the sun won’t properly rise for another 15 minutes or so. The quiet hour, the garden hour. It’s summer holiday period round these parts and a different rhythm that doesn’t get found often. Mornings have been spent in two ways of late. Either by the waters edge or here, in the garden.

After a year now of creating beds, building soil profiles, planting, transplanting, weeding, growing, harvesting and eating. This small city garden has just now gone through 4 seasons.

We’ve tracked shadows during the colder months, picked 10’s of kilos of tomatoes during the warm, and frowned over countless unseen critters and their impact on our growings.

This is something that has been a long time in the making. Where small potted plants gave way for a variety of raised garden beds. There are still lessons to be learnt, corners to build up, and plants to try out, but it’s a start, and a wonderful one at that. A tiny corner to take refuge from the noise of the day, a place to grow vegetables and ideas. A pocket of edible greens in an otherwise landscape of lawns.

It’s not perfect, and there are still a multitude of lumps to work through, but it’s got sun, soil, water, and enthusiasm. With that goes a multitude of possibilities.

This is the garden that grows.

strawberries-cityhippyfarmgirl

More garden posts…

…and then the slugs moved in.

Best flowers to grow for you and your bees

Compost, sharing the love

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The City Permaculture Garden- 10 lessons in 3 months

When you are creating a garden from scratch, and prior to that, most of your gardening glory has been generally from the potted kind. Lessons are going to be learnt, and swiftly so. I thought I would share ten recent lessons, (and I’m sure as eggs, there will be ten more waiting in the wings.)

kale || cityhippyfarmgirl

10 (City Permaculture Patch) Lessons Learnt in 3 Months

  1. Australian summers can be bloody hot. This past one was of no exception. Soaring temperatures make it hard for little seeds and seedlings to cope. Lesson Learnt? Stunted growth and inability to simply give growing from seed a fair crack- it’s just too damn hot.
  2. Shade cloth. Yep, you need that stuff over summer. While I was eccstatic that I had more sun loving hours to play with for growth. Lesson Learnt? During the middle of a summer day, shade cloth was a must when the garden was so unestablished. Later on down the track I’m hoping there will be other plants to offer more shade for growing the smaller delicate stuff.
  3. Soldier Fly Larvae, all kinds of beneficial awesomeness in a small segmented critter type way. Lesson learnt? Certainly not the maggots you thought they were first up.
  4. *Compost, dead easy to set up and maintain. While there was certainly an initial juggle of ingredients as I hadn’t played with these kinds of bins before, there are now two going strong. Lesson learnt? For me composts which at this stage are a bit heavier on the nitrogen based ingredients, lime is definitely necessary. compost || cityhippyfarmgirl
  5. Critters. There will always be a battle with critters. Growing your plants from seed, nurturing those seedlings, planting with loving care, only to not pay attention to them for 24 hours and find them being turned into seedling latticing by overly confident caterpillars. That’s just bloody disappointing people. Lesson learnt? Caterpillars, they can be truly little stinkers.
  6. Soil. Ahhh, I get it, I totally get it. Why people can get so enthusiastic, animated and obsessive about the stuff. It’s so important, so incredibly important! Ongoing lessons, on getting the balance right for optimal growing. Soil was bought in and it simply just didn’t have enough good stuff in there despite the labelling. Lesson learnt? If you have diversity in your soil, you are going to have much better growing conditions.
  7. Aphids. Persistent little buggers aren’t they. I’m delighted to have a wonderful amount of ladybeetles in the garden. However no amount of beneficial garden bugs could hoover through these critters. Lesson learnt? Do something about them when you first notice them…sincere apologies cucumbers. zinnia || cityhippyfarmgirl
  8. Zinnia. Incredibly easy to grow from seed, with seemingly very little effort. They have made a great barrier to protect more delicate growings, they bring in lots of happy pollinators, and are beautifully bright and colourful. Lesson learnt? Come the slightly cooler weather and mould can set on the leaves if sown too close together.
  9. I already knew it, but it really has become abundantly clear. You put the extra effort in, you reap the rewards down the track. Good planning is essential, along with some good old fashioned, blood, sweat and tears. (If tears aren’t needed, some some good old spirited pirate style cursing is always a good all rounder.)
  10. Tea, tastes rather excellent while wandering around your slowly establishing garden in the sweet autumn morning light, or alternatively that glass of wine in the late evening. Lessons learnt? By the end of the glass of wine, I’m less bothered by the aphids and this wandering around your garden? Yes, a person could get used to that, oh yes indeed.permaculture garden || cityhippyfarmgirl

I recently did another post all about becoming a compost geek over on the Milkwood if you are interested. Compost, it’s damn important stuff!

A tiny garden unfurls

nasturtium || cityhippyfarmgirl

It being October and all, it seems Spring has thrown a little of it’s extra super growing power into my tiny potted garden.

At night when we sleep, everything seems to power on ahead. Green-berries become blue, nasturtiums run rampant, cumquats multiple, and volunteer tomato plants declare any unclaimed space their own.

For a tiny garden that comes from a few plastic and ceramic pots in a shaded concrete courtyard, well, I’m absolutely delighted to watch the unfurling.

What are you growing at the moment?

permaculture in pots || cityhippyfarmgirl

mint || cityhippyfarmgirlblueberries || cityhippyfarmgirl

It being October also means, the nation wide Garage Sale Trail is coming up this weekend. An easy way to sell on a few things you don’t need anymore, get to know your neighbours, make stronger ties in your community and perhaps even schnaffle a few bargains for your self.

The Garage Sale Trail is on this Saturday 24th October.

The importance of neighbours (city living style)

cityhippyfarmgirl

At the beginning of the year, I said goodbye to our wonderful neighbours of nearly five years, (excuse me a minute while I stifle my sobs.)

For city-dwelling-apartment-living kind of people, that live the way we do? I can’t put enough emphasis on just how important it is to have a good relationship with your neighbours. For many house dwellers reading this you will be nodding and saying yes, yes of course, good neighbours are important anywhere. Which is, of course true, but apartment city living with a young family kinds? Oooh it’s really important.

Neighbours with kids: where your kids and their kids play safely and interchangeably throughout each others households. You know when it’s time to finish up, you can either holler from your back door for your kids to come home or turf your extras out and promising returns another day. Because of this, impromptu playdates are held almost daily. Mostly just in a shared space out the back where adult ears can listen but adult eyes don’t have to watch. There is a pack of kids out there keeping a tab on things, back in my child hood we roamed the streets like this and hung out in parks. In shared smaller living environments it still happens, just on a, well, smaller scale.

Need a cup of sugar? No worries, your neighbours got your back…or your cake or what ever it is you need that cup of sugar for. Neighbours are excellent for sharing cake with too. You give them cake and they’ll probably take all of your kids for an hour at their place. That’s a winning trade right there I tell you.

With more and more people living without extended family around them, or other close support to call on. Neighbours can be rather crucial in those tiny life moments when you just need a little hand with something or other.

You might need a pair of pliers.

A second opinion on a split head, (nurse neighbours are excellent. EXCELLENT.)

A babysitter.

You can enjoy their pet without owning a pet.

cityhippyfarmgirl

Someone to water your plants while you are away.

A neighbour can be someone to share good news with.

Someone to share bad news with.

Someone to share that huge bunch of bananas with.

Someone to chat to just while pegging out your washing, (living in an apartment does force you to be a little sociable.)

A friendly face to walk your kids to school while you are at home with their sick sibling.

Decisions can be made over shared laundry spaces. Options are talked over on back steps. Holiday mail collected easily and borrowed items returned straight away, (after all you know where they live!)

It’s certainly not always sunshine and roses out there, for every good thing there could be an equally frustrating annoying neighbourly thing. But for city small space living, it’s easier to work with your neighbours, to be a part of your immediate community. Each apartment block has a different set of people, dynamics and stories to be told. In this increasingly solitary life that people seem to be living either by themselves or even as a family, getting to know your neighbours is a really easy way to start and I think, an important one.

So after a good few months of being empty, a removalist truck sitting in the driveway and an array of cardboard boxes lining the hallway. I’m holding my breath a little. Now we wait for the new neighbours to move into the apartment next door… I certainly hope they like slabs of warm cake and little chats under the washing line.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How does your garden grow?

chillies || cityhippyfarmgirl summer patch- ecolosophy

Our gardens couldn’t be more different. Mine in small pots, neatly aligned along a big city urban fence. A tiny garden that grows intwined with the sound of other city dwellers, the soft murmur of traffic and the occasional summertime song of hidden cicadas.

Her garden? It meanders. Through seemingly endless acres, aligned with a neighbouring rugged, blue coastline. The gentle honking song of Cape Barren Geese flying over head at dusk and dawn, and frogs…lots of frogs.

Now who’s garden am I speaking of? Well that would be Tanya from Ecolosophy (remember the one I wanted to face plant into last year?) I caught up with her recently to hear how her garden was growing and also to find out who won the giveaway.

boys and beans- ecolosophySo it’s been a little while since I face planted in your garden because of the sheer beauty of it all. What’s been growing since we last caught up?

Oh Brydie, we’ve been pretty lucky this year. Ordinarily at this time of year, our patch would have been burnt to a crisp by a few blazing hot days with northerly winds and no rain but so far we’ve had an exceptionally mild summer in Esperance, most days mid twenties, rain every so often, not a single day so far over 40 (please don’t jinx me weather fairy!) The Patch is churning out tomatoes by the bucket load so I’ve been making lots of slow roasted tomato sauce. I’ve been as inventive as possible but the yellow button squash have (FINALLY) come to an end so I can relax on finding new and exciting ways to hide them in the family meals.

My black frilly kale and I are at a standoff of sorts because on one hand, I learned how to make kale chips…and they’re lovely but on the other hand my kale just keeps getting prettier and prettier so I’m loath to remove a single leaf. Most of the greenery in the Patch now is assorted pumpkins, melons and gourds that are the obsession of my other half.

Every summertime there is a quest to grow the worlds largest vegetables (so far the biggest pumpkin has only got to about 50kg which is a few hundred kilos off the world record) but we do grow a nice big New Guinea Bean (here’s a snap of last years beans with my boys) We eat them when they’re small (about zucchini sized) but then we let them grow and grow and grow. 

That bean picture is amazing. I’ll bet the boys were impressed with them. I’m certainly impressed! Now tell me also, who won the giveaway?

Well quite a few of your lovely readers popped in to the Ecolosophy Shop and had a wander through. And one of those lucky shoppers has won themselves a sweet eco giveaway of Ecolosophy goodness. Can I get a drum roll please?….. the winner is…..Diana Sayes.

tomato window sill- ecolosophy

Excellent! Well done Diana*. Tanya your garden is once again enviable and sadly, I’m now hesitantly going to go back to my small collection of pots…hmmm, three tomatoes anyone?

tomatoes || cityhippyfarmgirl

cityhippyfarmgirl-giveaway-ecolosphy

 * Diana- Ecolosophy will be sending out your lovely little package soon.

the art of conversation…where on earth has it gone?

cityhippyfarmgirl

Sitting on the bus I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was different. Slowly looking around me I suddenly realised, the bus had an energy. It was animated in here, there were people acting like, well real people.

Not signed into their electronic devices like my usual bus rides. Faces staring into tiny lit screens as a bus load of robot clones would.

No. On this bus ride, there was a wonderful vibrancy. There was life.

People were reading paper paged books (I know!) they were talking, a toddler gently traced circles on a window as his mother lovingly leaned into him. The kiss that she placed carefully at the back of his neck, going completely unnoticed as he was so intent on the passing view.

There was a man who had almost given into sleep. As the bus would lean into the corners, so would his body. Swaying just a little further than it should, only to lurch back instinctively, wake him slightly and then for him to fall again into that sleepy warm air bus slump.

There were conversations, a couple kissed, others looked out windows and simply mused on a passing world. Not one person held a digital device in their hands.

I patted my bag with my phone inside rather contentedly and perhaps a little smugly. I don’t need you phone, there is life happening all around me and I intend to soak up every little bit of it.

Weeks later on another journey, again on a bus I wasn’t quite so smug. I had succumbed to the phone, and was using the seated time to read an article I had wanted to during the week. I wasn’t updating a facebook status or doing a bus ride selfie. I was reading an article on suicide prevention and mental illness, so in my head I had rationalised the use of my phone. In my head I was smugly using it justifiably.

It was 8pm and dark outside, while I usually didn’t, tonight I was. Completely absorbed in what my phone had to offer. I didn’t notice the young teenaged boy sit next me. I was aware of him sure, but not enough to even raise my head a little. I had my phone you see.

Do you like the Roosters or Rabbitohs?

Eh?? Oh that’s directed to me?

Err, neither…I replied.

Oh…. Bulldogs or Eels? He quizzed.

Um, no not those either sorry.

Any league team? He asked with slight edge of desperation.

No, not really… (my phone gets discretely shoved into my bag at this stage.)

Any sport? he asks, a little deflated now.

Um… I like soccer? I offer

Great, what team? He says with a little spark again in his eye.

Socceroos? I say.

Yeah, me too! We both seem relieved.

Sitting in silence for a bit and I discretely check out his friends who are standing in the bus aisle. They weren’t dressed like juvenile delinquents, they didn’t look high, didn’t smell or act like they’d been drinking and weren’t graffiting the seats while distracting the other bus riders with idle chit chat. I felt like it was my turn to deliver on the conversation front now.

So where are you all going?

Just up to the local park, he said happily, and again we sat quietly.

A little further on and the bus stopped. The stop was his one and the group of friends tumbled out the back doors, into the early evening. As my teen conversation starter got up to go he said politely, have a good night, it was really nice talking to you.

You too mate, you too… my voice trailed off after him as the doors shut.

My brain was a little confused. I wasn’t quite sure of the last time a fourteen year old boy had voluntarily talked to me in a public spot. Not since I was fourteen myself I suspected.

cityhippyfarmgirl

I got off the bus a few stops later, and patted my silenced phone inside my bag. Yep, still there, I hadn’t been unknowingly pick pocketed. I also hadn’t seemed to be the subject of some odd childhood prank, been filmed and uploaded to youtube.

What I had instead was a tiny conversation that had completely thrown me and to be honest, had made my day. While throwing me and at the same time making me happy, in some ways it also made me a little sad. This was our reality now, instead of a conversation on a bus with a young stranger being a normal thing, it was now such an oddity and something to be scrutinised.

As I walked the rest of the way home, I couldn’t help but wonder. What on earth had happened, to the simple art of conversation?

Chocolate, Community and Choices

beetroot brownie || cityhippyfarmgirl

I’ll let you in on a little secret. This place here, is my number one place to eat out. It doesn’t happen often, actually hardly at all really, but when it does…oh it’s bliss. Sheer bliss.

While this blog is not about food reviewing (and never will be) I can’t help but want to stand on my pedestal and shout…”you really should go there!”

Once in that blue moon period when I do go out, I want to go somewhere that holds similar beliefs to me. Going somewhere where the selling points of a dish are “Salmon from Alaska, oranges from Malta, cheese from Turkey and wine to wash it all down with from Italy”. Nope, it just doesn’t cut it for me, I’m seriously not interested. Tell me the bacon is from a small scale farmer a few hours away, the milk is from the outskirts of Sydney, the eggs are organic and the plated greens were grown three metres away in the small backyard. Now that’s going to make me sit up and pay attention.

Also add to it being some of the best tasting food I’ve ever tasted and I will be scrambling for any opportunity to get a table again.

Now when time ticks by and life gets in the way, their cookbook will be tiding me over. The pages talk of how they started, seasonal eating, not wasting anything and community– all topics of which I’ll happily devour every page, (which is includes this rather tasty Chocolate Beetroot Brownie.)

beetroot brownie || cityhippyfarmgirl

Coming back for a moment, to that wonderful C word that I love so much- community. It’s important to me here in blogland. It’s important to me in ‘real life’ and is also one of the big things that has struck me every time I’ve been lucky enough to eat there. (And it really is a privilege to eat out , for anyone!) Community is something that really seems to jump out at you, even just walking down the street. You can tell that this is a close knit area that really looks out for each other, (which also includes famed sourdough legend, Iggy’s just a few doors down.)

Living in a big city, if you are lucky enough to be in the position of choosing to go out for a meal, then considering where your dollar is going just makes sense. It makes wonderful sense. Combine a little chocolate and community in with those choices and you have yourself a pretty great combination I think.

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Tell me, what are some of your favourite community minded places (or books) to eat or hang out at? 

 

a tiny garden of hope

cityhippyfarmgirl

cityhippyfarmgirl

There’s a warmth to the early morning air already, and a soft hum of distant traffic. The buzzing of a far off hovering helicopter, is balanced out by the squarks of the overhead parrots starting their day, shrieking from branch to branch.

A stillness to the air, that is appreciated and quietly charges me.

A sleepy sun begins a slow climb upwards, wet washing gets pegged out and plants watered, ready for the heat of the day.

The pause, a moment. A flick off of a reluctant caterpillar. There’s hope in this tiny garden of mine. Tiny bubbles of hope, that at 6am I can feel sitting around me. Hope in more forms than I can count. I like it, in fact I love it. It feels sometime since I had taken the time to fully absorb the morning in my tiny potted garden. Perhaps even some time since I had truly taken in those bubbles of hope.

The kettle has boiled, there is a pot of chai tea waiting inside. Precious minutes, before thoughts are returned to someone or something else for the day.

Maybe just one more moment, with my tiny garden of hope.