Voluntary Simplicity: In the Garden


Simple living, or voluntary simplicity isn’t a new concept in this household, but it is one that gets constantly edited, it evolves and gets reassessed as needed. It’s also something that while my children have always grown up with it, as this stage of their lives I’m finding I’m explaining more of why we make certain conscious decisions, and the longer term effects of those decisions. The why we do things and not just because.

Sometimes I can feel like I’m all over it and other times it feels like I’m floating in mini version of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

The good thing about that though, is despite occasional overwhelming feelings there’s always something that shifts and then counter balanced by a complete sense of fully bodied satisfaction, (and that is always a good thing.)

Just over 12 months ago we swapped small apartment inner city living for a house in a smaller city, and surrounding suburban area. It’s close to shops, schools, transport and health caregivers when needed.

Another important choice for us was to be able to grow things. So now with the multiple neighbours that I know by name, there came a fairly blank canvas space of a backyard.

Making that move meant initially we didn’t have a lot of things that we would need (like) to embark on growing a lot of our own vegetables. Wheelbarrows, spades, pitch forks etc weren’t items that I had needed to access with a previously small shared concrete city courtyard.


To get started with our growing, somethings we bought straight up, (I knew there would be an initial outlay of items as our number one aim was to get things growing. We wanted to eat from our back door step!) Somethings were given to us, somethings passed on to us as were no longer needed by the original owners. Somethings we bought second hand, and some the things we simply borrowed.

Ultimate Goal? To be growing as much as possible utilising the space we have, keeping costs down and equipment to a bare minimum.

How did we set about it and how do we continue to manage it? (As I mentioned it’s a constantly evolving process.)

Gumtree- either bought second hand or freebies, also been great for selling things we no longer needed to keep clutter to a minimum and redirect $ to something else more useful.

Borrow- lawn mowers we borrowed two before buying our own push mower. I still get a smug sense of satisfaction of hearing virtually nothing when mowing the lawn. As more grass gets turned over for edible growing space, I’m hoping the lawn mowers use will gradually decrease.

Trade- Somethings I refused outright to get, and a whipper snipper was one of them. Borrow one sure, but I didn’t want to buy one. (Actually we never did end up borrowing one either.) Living in an area where people pride themselves on their grass care. I asked a neighbour if he would trade the occasional edging out the front for baked goods. He could sleep easier knowing our edges were looking less scruffy and my conscience was clear knowing we didn’t have a garage full of implements that might be used once in a blue moon.

Hire- And if we do change our mind on using that whipper snipper, or anything else for that matter. Well I can hire one from a household a couple of km’s away at an hourly rate from Open Shed. (Another awesome example of the share economy.)


There will always be a juggle between keeping/finding/sourcing things that might be useful in the future, (but have no immediate use) and keeping our gardening gear to a minimum, (that’s our reality and the way we’ve chosen to do things in this period. While tools are a fairly easy decision. I’m finding more and more discarded wood finding its way in as it has the potential to be made into something else entirely. I’m ok with that, as mentioned in the beginning, it’s an evolving process. Choices are made, as opportunities present themselves.

Conscious decisions over unthinkingly just taking… this is our version of voluntary simplicity, in the garden.

Helpful links


Open Shed



Kitchen Crumbs

teeny tiny pears || cityhippyfarmgirl

Bench tops are groaning, the sink is over flowing, and there is rather a lot of flour wedged between the kitchen floorboards. If you can ignore the growing number of scattered crumbs and butter smeared finger prints on the drawers, I’ll give you a quick peek into my kitchen at the moment.

 There have been some teeny tiny locally grown famers market pears.

 Some crunchy bread ends and lazy coconut biscuits- slab style.


Lots of home grown chilli that certainly gets your attention. Hot? You betcha.

over proved sourdough || cityhippyfarmgirlThen there was Moon Bread, as it was aptly named. Over proved thanks to crazily humid afternoon- which is never forgiving with my bread. Still passed the taste test though, (this bread had sprouted millet, sunflower kernels, linseed, dark malt flour and water kefir in it.)

window sill farming || cityhippyfarmgirl

And lastly the ever present kitchen window sill of sprouting things. While the shadowed bench tops are full of things fermenting, the sunny sill is where sprouting action is. Window sill farming at it’s very best.


What’s happening in your kitchen at the moment?

Linking up with Celia this month for more sneaky peeks into other peoples kitchens, see here. 

landshare Australia

Last year some time I wrote about communal gardens and roof top vegetable patchs in the city. From there I was put on to the organisation Landshare in the UK, brought together by River Cottage (Hugh Fearnly- Whittingstall). That in turn led me to the Australian Landshare project, which hadn’t yet launched…(still with me?) Well now it has launched. It’s off and racing and needs peoples support for it to be as successful as the original one.

So what’s it all about?

“Landshare Australia brings together people who have a passion for home-grown food, connecting those who have land to share with those who need land for cultivating food. The concept of Landshare began in the UK, launched through the River Cottage television program in 2009, and has since grown into a thriving community of more than 57,000 growers, sharers and helpers across the country. Now that Landshare is here in Australia, we welcome you to come and take part in this fantastic initiative.”

Landshare is for people who:

  • Want to grow vegetables but don’t have anywhere to do it
  • Have a spare bit of land they’re prepared to share
  • Can help in some way – from sharing knowledge and lending tools to helping out on the plot itself
  • Support the idea of freeing up more land for growing
  • Are already growing and want to join in the community

Landshare Australia


Allow me a rant, just a little one…

Big inhalation now…so I can feel the rant build up a little.

Garlic. I’ve mentioned it a little before, but have restrained myself in the past, because…it gets me a little het up. (Garlic and canned tomatoes, but I’ll save that one for another post.)

Today though, I’m letting the garlic flag fly…

I love cooking, and I love using garlic in my cooking, and yet in recent times, there haven’t been too many dishes with even the hint of garlic in them. Why? Because I don’t want my garlic to come from China. Nor Mexico, or Argentina and these are the countries that we frequently import our garlic from here in Australia. I have nothing against these countries, I just really want to eat Australian garlic. From my readings, it seems that the majority of our imported garlic is from China where every bulb is rayed, sprayed and then resprayed against ‘critters’ coming in at quarantine. (Strict quarantine laws in Australia, require many products to be treated with methyl bromide.) That is a lot of handling for a little bulb, that by the time it gets to the supermarket shelf it’s old, wrinkled, soft, and bless its little heart ready to try and shoot. Tasteless and disappointing.

Where have all the different varieties gone? Where have our garlic options gone?

Garlic happily sits in so many flavoursome dishes. It brings a tasty depth, that few other vegetables can compete with in the same way.

I’m getting garlic envy from all the lovely blogs I have seen with tantalizing pictures of their freshly harvested garlic. I recently bought some “spring garlic” or green garlic from the farmers markets and it was divine. Stalks and all, a little bit more subtle than when its has been dried, but truly delicious and locally produced. Every meal that those little green stalks and bulbs went in to was treated as it should. With gratitude and thanks, and more than a little smacking of lips. It makes a meal. (Maybe wouldn’t make a cake…but I wasn’t going for the garlic chocolate cake combo anyway.)

Garlic is planted in the cooler months and harvested in the hotter months, approximately 17-25 weeks after planting. If you have any space at all, I highly recommend giving growing your own a go. I don’t have any. I tried doing it in pots and it just wasn’t in the right position for growing. So now I just get to look longingly at others growing it and put my nose in the air in a huff when I see the sad little excuses for garlic for sale in the supermarket. That is, until I see some locally grown garlic for sale and then will be pouncing on it with gusto.

So tell me, where does your garlic come from? What types can you get? Do you grow it? Do you find it tricky to grow? I would love to hear your garlicky stories…


More information on growing garlic here.