Archive for ‘January, 2016’

Homegrown Bug Mix


We consider having a good bug mix on hand really useful (essential even) in creating a healthy, pest free garden. It’s key function is to attract certain insects (often referred to as beneficials) that help pollinate crops and control unwanted insects.

As we’re in Tasmania we’re unable to buy in certain seeds and bug mixes due to quarantine, so we grown our own – and while the mix will vary depending on seasons and availability, here are some of our stalwart and rather beautiful ingredients. Image from Green Harvest



Sweet Alice (Lobularia maritima) has masses of tiny white and/or purple flowers that attract hoverflies and parasitic mini-wasps. This little bush grows prolifically, so much so that we often ‘weed’ it out and use it as mulch to protect naked soils. In doing so it drops its seeds and grows where we’ve thrown it down. When the bush is dry, we also put some of it in a paper bag and shake it around vigorously – this separates the seeds from their pods so we can easily harvest them.

IMG_5384Sweet Alice being used as mulch


IMG_5386Sweet Alice seed pods and actual seed separated

The second plant we use *a lot* is calendula (Calendula Officinalis). We use it as a quick growing cover crop to help stabilise and beautify some of our many slopes and attract the good guys into our landscape. Ladybirds (and bees) love hanging out on these little beauties.



Finally, we use nasturtiums (Tropaeolum) in our bug mix which everything seem to love. They’re a fantastic ground cover, perfect in orchards and for rambling down slopes. We use their young seed pods to make ‘poor man capers‘, and the rest fall on the ground and are harvested for our bug mix.



All three of these plants will grow prolifically and while they will self seed and become very abundant in your garden, they wont become invasive. This means you can happily grow them in both your annual and perennial crops without a problem.


Above and below you can see some of these flowers in action in our orchard, below you’ll also see flowers like borage, native pelagonium and sunflowers,  who add to creating an attractive, food filled space for beneficial bugs.


Want to know more?



A Good Life

We’re just back from New Zealand, visiting my sister (Caitlin) and her family. We left with full hearts and plans to build bridges between our two islands to bring us closer. One of the reasons we love being with these folks is that they live through their hearts to craft a life which is true to them. And when you come across people like that (family or otherwise), you can’t help but be inspired and keep a bit of them with you always.

These guys are rocking the whole concept of living a good life, something that’s highly subjective and can look like many things. To us, it includes living locally and ethically, being creative, engaged with your community and having fun. Here’s how Caitlin and Matt do just that in very fine form.


These two spunks have built their own home on Matt’s family land on the edge of Coromandel – it’s a dreamy patch of *green* with a flowing creek, abundant veggie patches and orchards. Bananas and bamboo grow in the same neighbourhood as olives, figs, apples and peaches – this places flips my climatic understanding of what plants can grow where.



The local beach and Riley (below) one of the coolest little pups around.


Caitlin is an unusually talented artist who nails anything she tries her hand to. Pottery is her main craft and she does it really well, this year she was a finalist in NZ’s Portage Awards – the most prestigious ceramics award in the country . We are very proud. You can see more of her in action here, here and here.



IMG_7216Caitlin teaching Anton how it’s all done… And juggling Frida


She stocks the local Driving Creek Railway, a unique mountain railway along with a working pottery and wild life sanctuary, it’s amazing. She’ll also be opening her studio up for this years Coromandel Arts Tour in April – not to be missed if you’re around that way.



And then there’s Matt. He’s a musician and sound engineer who works with bands and a range of projects through his business Coro Sonic Lab. He also runs the Coro Summer Festival each year in their garden which is true beauty in action. Complete with compost toilets, top notch musicians and somewhere between 200-300 very, very happy people. We just happened to be there for this year’s – it looked like this…





12552616_10153863423097744_8580263321286474150_nMatt and his bloody awesome family, Pete, Anna and Vicky – we love this family.

One of the striking things about Caitlin and Matt is how they welcome people into their home *all the time*. Whether that’s us, 200 festival goers or their neighbours, there’s a lot of people care going on.


I once heard a saying; something about how if you have a good home, meaningful work and fulfilling relationships in your life, you’re sorted…. These guys are sorted.


*All festival photos are from here.


Dreaming & Doing

It’s a nice time of the year. It’s summer (on this side of the world), most people are playing more than working, new year resolutions are being made and things just seem a little bit fresher.  While we don’t really seem to do new year resolutions, last year we did do a whole family “vision statement” which feels like an ongoing life resolution to live by. In an effort to help keep it fresh in our minds and hearts we’re sharing it…

We were introduced to this process by Dan Palmer from Very Edible Gardens who wrote a great article about it in Pip Magazine back in March 2015. If you’d like to know more about the process, read these blogs by Dan. Our vision statement is based on holistic management *and* the permaculture design process we follow, it captures how we want to live and is written in present tense so it feels real.

But why do it? So often in life we make spend a lot of time reacting to things, where we make decisions with a sense of urgency or without good thought, usually due to being too busy.  A vision statement helps us stay clear and focused, it’s a reference point we can check back in with as needed, remind us where we’re going and how we can get there.

Ours goes like this.


We are a loving and thriving family. We communicate awesomely and make time for one another. We are hardy and resilient.

Within this are many sub points to provide the extra detail which outline exactly how we intend to make this grand vision a reality. We drew it as a mind map as this makes sense to us, so with all the sub points connected, it looks like this.


Here’s a little breakdown so you can see how all the sub points “fall out” of the one broad vision statement. These sub points are things we can put into action to help us “get there”.

We are a loving and thriving family

  • Practice being thoughtful and emotionally aware.
  • Don’t take ourselves too seriously.
  • Approach things with fun and light heartedness.
  • Stay humble.
  • Keep connected and active in our community.
  • Support creative endeavours even when they’re not always the most practical or functional thing to do, but because they make our hearts sing.

We communicate awesomely and make time for one another

  • Don’t let sh*t linger (i.e. talk through things as needed and make it’s all sorted *before* you go to sleep each night).
  • Eat meals together.
  • Respectfully engage and interact with our extended families.
  • As well as working together, we play together.

We are hardy and resilient

  • Have the right clothes (this is actually pretty important in our cold winters where without the right clothes you don’t really want to be outside).
  • Practice physical expertise, i.e. rolls and climb trees.
  • Our home nurtures us – it is a diverse food-scape and play-scape, built to last.
  • We are financially comfortable.

We should point out that we don’t actually feel like we’re “there” yet, but that’s not the point. The point is we know where we’re going, and that we’re going there together. We base our decisions/discussions and life around this statement, if we’re unsure about something we ask ourselves “does it match up to our vision statement?”. If not, we can let things slide, or at least put things into perspective.

We also expect our family vision statement to change as life unfolds, as change is the only constant. The main aim of the game is to make sure we’re making our time on this planet count, in every possible way. There’s this quote by Mary Oliver which I love….


Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

Our little family vision statement is a hearty step in helping us realise our potential, keep connected and always reach for the stars with our feet firmly on the ground – we’re really tall, so feel like that’s possible. Happy 2016 and beyond, may life be good to you.

IMG_7062Us. Excuse Frida’s bum, she was pretty distracted trying to escape from my arms to smother Riley – the dog.

**FYI – We’ll be going a bit quiet over the next little bit (not so many blogs) while we finish off some work for some very patient design clients and spend some time playing with our families and basking in the glory of Summer.

Leave a comment