So heres the story i’ve been wanting to share most of all.
Our Croft and Greenfields farmhouse. We arrived here just over a year ago, this big old house kind of chose us at a time when we really needed the space. I was 6 months pregnant with Tiny and prior to getting pregnant we’d been considering a move to the Sth Coast for cheaper living and greener pastures. Sydney is our home and always will be but its getting more expensive by the day and if this old farmhouse had not found us we would already be in the same situation as many of my friends currently are…………….looking for a family lifestyle at a cost they afford and ultimately moving away.
We had always dreamed of a fairly simple lifestyle for our family, although we both grew up in what is now a pretty wealthy area, back then it was a village, a beach community that had a lot of soul. We dreamed and recapturing that lifestyle for our children and we have been lucky enough to find some of that here. A slower pace of life, a community we could connect with, room to breathe and most of all room to grow……room for our girls to grow and room to grow my own food.
Ive always had an interest in plants, I tried balcony gardening for the many years we lived by the beach but with little success. Some herbs and stawberries, rocket and other leafy greens but nothing you could really call a garden, so my excitement at having so much green space to play with was hard to contain!
Contain it I must though……first I had a baby to meet and the choppy waters of newborn plus toddler to navigate. We didnt get started on the garden until Tiny was about 5 months, up untill then we’d been busy dealing with family health issues and fixing the house up with a few much needed improvements and additions. A wood shed, a chook shed, fly screens, some serious cleaning and a bit of kitchen remodelling (I’ll take you on a house tour another time). Once that was done I was straight out the back, sometimes with Tiny strapped to me, pitchfork and shovel in hand, determined to muddle my way through.
I followed my instincts, got my hands deep in the soil and it was good soil, worm rich, dark and loamy. I had free manure from the stables out the back and plenty of straw to dig in , and so we set about building the first Veggie patch. Im still muddling my way through, I planted our Spring crop far too late but we had tasty salad greens every night, plus onions, fresh herbs, fennel, kale, carrots and silverbeet then in November I started planting for Summer. Tomatos, basil, zuchinni and cucumber all started by seed.
I accidentally pulled out the zuchinni seedlings in a fit of weeding madness (not having ever seen one before!) but the basil is still going strong as are my 10 cucumber plants (its the only veg my threenager Mini will eat). Sadly the incredible patch of juicy almost ripe Tomatos were consumed from the inside by fruit fly larvae and I had to destroy them, but some random cherry tomatos have sprouted in the new bed we added recently so I may just get one last taste of Summer before the season ends.
Currently the patch is under takeover by the Pumpkin vines…….these (along with my failed tomatos) have been my most frustrating grow so far. I have 4 plants climbing everywhere but the female flowers are few and far between and the ones that are flowering dont seem to be getting pollinated, despit the thousands of bees and other insects around. Ive taken measures and hand pollinated a few this week, so im keeping a close eye on those. Oh and we got chickens for the chicken coop! Named Peck Peck and Parmigiana both a blessing and a curse, they have made themselves right at home and already pissed off the neighbours by wandering out of bounds. They also occasionally annoy the crap out of me too but mostly I forgive them because they clean the floor for me after the kids have eaten. Also chickens are amazing at keeping down the tick population!
Autumn planting has begun with Broad Beans, Peas, Wombok, Onions, Dill and some late Capsicum and pepper seeds. The (as usual) late planted Giant Sunflowers are almost ready to show thier shiny faces and some baby Beetroot and Cos Lettuce seedlings seem to be standing up to the daily thrashing the chickens give them as they dig through the empty spots in the patch. Im hoping for a bountiful cooler few months ahead.
I went to buy some seedlings and seeds the other week and mentioned to the check out chick (because im seriously starved for adult conversation that I will try to chat to just about anybody) how excited I was at being able to spend money guilt free as I knew that ultimately it would feed my family and save me money. She looked at me and said “Gee you must know what your doing then!”………”Nope” I replied “Im just chucking them in the ground and seeing what happens”and truly it feels like thats all im doing. I may have pulled up some grass and fertilised the soil, built some structures but really all im doing now is watering and feeding them and watching them grow. It really is that simple and I wish everyone could know the joy of growing real food.
My Croft is like heaven to me, the happiest place on earth. Stepping through the fence into all that green feels like taking the deepest breath and being renewed. I can be out there for hours and not get bored, pulling weeds in the hottest sun and sweating rivers as I do is pure joy, checking my babies for new growth or fruit to harvest makes my heart sing and my permenantly dirt stained fingers remind me daily of where Im being pulled.