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We’re lucky. Even by Australian standards, we’re lucky to live in the house we have. Even though it’s “just” a rental property, and therefore costs us a fortune in dead money every week, we’re lucky.

It’s an older house, double brick and tile, in an older suburb (my research indicates that it was developed in the 1950’s and 1960’s), and sits on a strangely shaped and oddly large block of land. When I moved in, it was planted already with two grapevines, a lemon tree, a very runty and sad apple tree, numerous well-established herbs and two demarcated vegetable beds. A mulberry tree hangs over the fence from one of our four neighbours. A gigantic, sprawling Indian pepper tree shades the backyard, and the hedge that screens our front yard needs no care at all.

I got stuck into that vegetable garden hard when I first moved in. And I did alright out of it; not as well as I had out of the raised bed I’d built at another place, but not bad at all. Emboldened, I went for the second growing season…and that’s where it all went downhill. I don’t know what went wrong. It’s a recurring theme in my life. I do really well at something the first time I try it, and then I’m plagued by mischance and defeat thereafter.

Well, not this year. This year, I have help! Frog is here, and she’s bolstered my confidence again and we’ve got the beginnings of an exciting and productive garden. We planted it out…about three or four weeks ago? We were too keen to get stared to take a “before” shot, but here’s what it looked like upon being planted:

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We also put some shadecloth up to mitigate the ferocious summer sun, and I took a photo a week or so ago:

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What’s prompted this, you ask? Well, I think it rose out of a desire to do something, together, to be more involved and empowered in our own survival. Reskilling is never a bad thing, and we have a fairly long list of things we want to learn to do (brewing, shoemaking, woodworking, tanning, plumbing…you get the idea). Taking charge of some part of our food supply was the logical first step, of course.

It’s funny, because while I’ve gravitated to this way of life for much of my adult existence, never before has the whole world kind of unified to put things and books and people and opportunities in my path so blatantly as lately. It just so happened that I picked up Rhonda Hetzel’s Down To Earth: A Guide To Simple Living a couple of weeks ago, and it absolutely galvanised me. I loved it. Read it – it’s worth twice the price you’ll pay.

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