Last year during the very early stages of starting our garden, I was fortunate to receive some insightful advice from my friend Jo. She suggested that as we were developing our garden from scratch to take it slowly, bite off small bits and get used to managing each stage before taking on more challenges.
Jo told me a story about her brother who after being completely inspired by the application of Permaculture to his life and garden, launched head first into a major project to set up a comprehensive Permaculture garden on his property in the lower Blue Mountains. He worked tirelessly, day and night, putting things together at break neck speed. In no time at all he had developed a huge garden kitted out with extensive vegetable beds and fruit trees galore. He even built a straw bale barn for his boys. A few seasons later he was barely coping and realised he had bitten off way more than he could chew. Unable to maintain his elaborate site, sadly he walked away an exhausted man. I carefully listened to Jo’s story and decided to take her advice seriously.
Like Jo’s brother, we are busy people. We both work full-time in demanding jobs, have young adults at home and tend to my elderly unwell mum. Inspite of this, we’ve managed to make huge leaps forward, adding on to our skills bit by bit and embracing the changes with gusto. We often dream about the prospect of becoming full-time stay-at-home Permies but in reality it ain’t going to happen…well not yet anyway.
Developing our garden and making slow sustainable changes to our lives has been so rewarding. Remembering Jo’s advice, we’ve fought the inner urges to push ahead too quickly and rather used the time to enjoy what we’ve created so far. We’ve had time to apply the Permaculture principle to ‘observe and interact’ with our garden and we’ve learnt new skills that have helped us regain control of our lives. Sometimes it feels as though we’re just managing to stay afloat and other times we sway to a comfortable rhythm spending more time than ever in our garden. We’ve also spent more time at home than ever before and love it, doing the things we enjoy and learning to adjust to the extra chores of tending a garden, growing vegetables, feeding chooks, making our own compost and applying simple living skills such as making bread, yoghurt, cheese, soap, preserves, ginger beer and cleaners. Sure it’s busy but we’e adjusted by focusing on what’s important to us and we love every minute of it.
Taking things slowly has also given us some thinking time to plan for the next stages of our garden. Soon we’ll be adding a pond, a reed bed, getting our fruit trees organised, building more garden beds, sorting out the nursery and getting our beehive up and running.
As you can see we’re never really short of motivation but do occasionally suffer from being time poor but we can always make time for a bit of inspiration and that’s exactly what happened a couple of weeks ago when I visited Deb’s garden. I hope you’ll join me next time when we have a look at a Permaculture garden in action.