Our Imperfections, Stuff Ups & Incomplete Jobs

Nov 14, 2014

Every now and then we get people writing to us saying things like “wow! How do you get your garden to be so perfect and beautiful??”

To us, we get really concerned by this, as our place is far (so far) from perfect, beautiful yes (in our eyes at least), perfect? No, no no. We have more than our fair share of ‘ratty’ piles of stuff in every possible corner, incomplete fencing, annual vegies ravished by slugs and what we call ‘hodge-podge’ solutions left, right and centre.

You see, at the moment, we’re not full time gardeners, rather we have maybe one full day between us in the garden each week. Right now, gardening is something that fits around our teaching commitments, running a small business (think admin and organising), Anton working 4 days at Sustainable Living Tasmania, us needing to prioritise building infrastructure like retaining walls instead of making compost tea (which I’ve been meaning to do for around 3 months, and still haven’t) and me being increasingly pregnant and physically restricted which sees me simply looking at gardening jobs instead of actually doing any of them.

So, to bring those of you who think we’re our own little botanical gardens paradise back down to earth, we give you a grand tour of our imperfections, stuff ups and incomplete jobs. Enjoy!

IMG_1510Sections of our garden look like this – just happily going to seed. And while I’m all for seed saving and allowing some plants to go to flower to attract beneficial insects, we really don’t need as much as we’ve currently got. I don’t bother pulling things out until I’ve got something to replace them with, which I don’t at the moment as I haven’t been amazing at staggering our propagation.


Most of our annual garden beds look like this – left over Winter crops and a whole lotta of unimpressive young Summer crops coming on….


Like these uncomfortably yellow baby cucumbers. They’ll come good soon with a bit of warmth and soil care, but they’re definitely not winning any awards in impressing people right now.


We love our new rain tank…. And would love if even more if it was actually connected to our roof. To be fair, we’ve been researching the right type of pump to get which is quite complicated for our context. The pump determines the types of fittings we get etc, so we’ve had to nut these details out first, which I think we’ve almost done.


Then there was that time that Anton accidentally set the front bank on fire with a spark from the angle grinder. Turns out jute mat (the hessian looking material you can see above) is insanely fire prone, as in ‘we almost burned our house down’ fire prone. That was a stressful moment. As you can see we haven’t quite got around to replacing the plants or weed mat situation. However, tomorrow we’re having a working bee to rectify that, so it’s about to be transformed.


And this unexciting photo is of our young hazelnuts which we’ve just planted out, and which are about to be swamped with grass if we don’t sheet mulch them right now. Again, this is on the cards to do in the next week, but we’ll see – priorities change from moment to moment around here as things creep up and down on the urgency list.


Oh yes, and then we have our incomplete floppy fence, which is actually working just fine in keeping out the wallabies (the main culprits), but the possums and rabbits will find us in the near future so we really do need to get on top of that this season to make sure they don’t.


Our front stairs are beautiful, yet incomplete – you’re starting to get the picture, yeah? We’re running all over the place getting jobs started to the point where things are functional and then we move on to the next thing which needs our attention. We’re aiming for next year to be one of CONSOLIDATION, that’s such a sexy word to us at the moment.

And then there are our glorious and numerous piles of STUFF around the place – all useful I might add, but not necessarily beautiful.





What was meant to be the goat shed (please don’t ask), is now being converted into a propagation and garden tool shed. Which is actually a great re-purposing of it – but not finished as you can see.


And to wrap it up (I could keep going), we’ve got this “stunning” earthship retaining wall we built from old car tyres. Once it was structurally sound and had the base render on, we pretty much walked away from it before putting the ‘beautifying’ render on. The one which makes people go – oh I love it! Instead of – hmmm, interesting finish you’ve chosen there. Eventually it’ll be a nice earthy ochre colour and the grassy bank above it will be landscaped and have grape vines growing along it. Eventually.


So there you go folks, that’s us – warts and all. But we’re ok with that, because amongst all this ‘messy and unsuccessful’ stuff there are a million lessons being learned, new ideas being stumbled upon, laughter, and a home full of love being established. Right now just happens to be a particularly crazy time for us – but I have no doubt (none at all) that even when gardening is more of a full time role for us that we’ll always have piles of useful, ‘ugly’ stuff lying around and that there’ll be an impressive list of half done jobs needing finishing and that we’ll still stuff up every now and then.

As one of our good market gardening mates, Suzi says – gardening is never finished, never perfect and always in flux. As Suzi’s one of the best annual growers I know, I take comfort in these wise words and love the fact that when ever I visit her, there’s always something being changed, dug up, moved etc – it’s never perfect, but she gets pretty darn close to it I reckon.

So here’s to aiming to being ‘almost perfect’. May we be kind on ourselves and one another in this ongoing, ever-changing journey.

your thoughts:


  1. Celia

    After developing my permaculture designed farm, while building a house and home educating 4 children, my mantras became “it is better to do something imperfectly, than nothing flawlessly” and “you can’t eat tidy”! It all falls together in the fullness of time. You’re doing a great job Anton and Hannah

  2. Sherry

    New to your facebook page and just wanted to say I REALLY needed your above post this morning! I am trying to sheet mulch/no dig garden our orchard area (we live on just over 20 acres) as I am trying to grow as much food as possible for our family of 3. So in addition to raised wooden veg beds I am planning on growing veg/herbs/flowers in the space between our various established fruit trees which is a CRAZY HUGE amount to try and sheet much and/or turn into no dig garden. Was feeling very overwhelmed this morning by the monstrously huge task ahead of me (I’m rather anal and am constantly trying to do 10 things at once! lol) so seeing your above post this morning made me take a DEEP calming breath, not chuck it in and bury myself under all my sheet mulching materials and have a good chuckle at the same time!! 🙂

  3. dave

    Hey Hannah (and Anton),

    Your place looks like mine (except you guys know stuff and I’m just pretending!).

    This year is the same for me… starting a project and finishing it! We have three young kids and run our own business – you kind of just get used to a new level of craziness.

    Three cheers to making it happen and getting in there! You guys are an inspiration – plus photos of half finished things let me get a proper view of the guts of something while I’m stealing your ideas! 🙂

    Keep truckin!


  4. Nat Wiseman

    Hi Hannah,

    Great post! I visited Tassie for the Australian City Farms and Community Gardens Conference (well done on that btw!), and was blown away by Chris Ennis’ discussion about all the ways in which CERES had made mistakes – and equally inspired by your honest account of all the things that are incomplete/imperfect. As Chris said at the talk, sharing our failures is the only real way to learn from each other – we learn a lot more from sharing failures than sharing successes! I agree social media in particular really creates/perpetuates an image of perfection – especially when you are a business wanting to show how capable you are! But I think there is also value in being honest – and perhaps this honesty in the end actually helps more people keep going, less afraid to make mistakes, than the ‘shiny happy people’ version. I guess we all need to become more comfortable with failure and acknowledge/recognise the important lessons it brings – as Joel Salatin says in ‘You Can Farm’, good enough is perfect!



  5. Sulyn Lam

    Just read this piece Hannah and as so often in your writing there is abundant beauty in the humanity of your observations, in the kindness afforded and the willingness to be amused by the foibles that thankfully make us all human.

    I always remember a sweet thing one of my son’s teachers told the kids in his class that I think of when my biorhythms flutter:

    ‘Do your best most of the time.’

    Somehow ‘most’ seems infinitely wiser than ‘all’. Suzi x

    • Hannah Moloney

      Thanks Suzi! I do like the word ‘most’. I’ll hold onto that one. 🙂


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