This post is brought to you by ignorance.

I’ve just finished reading Jackie French’s ‘ Year in The Valley’  and something pretty weird just struck me. You might think it’s odd that this just struck me, when I have dreamed of being on land for so long, but here it is:

I have NO IDEA how to grow stuff.

I mean seriously: Beyond ‘stick the rooty-end in the ground, leaves pointing up, and water it’, I am completely ignorant. I have no idea what plants to grow where. I have no idea how to plan a garden. Previous attempts on my part have resulted in disaster.

Like the time I planted 6 snow pea seedlings, which promptly were dug-up and eaten within 2 days by birds. I planted carrots. They grew into all leafy top, no carrot bottom. I planted broccoli, it went immediately to seed without any broccoli. I planted cabbage. The slugs loved me for it.

Any success I have ever had growing ANYTHING was an accident. A mystery vine grew in our backyard. I let it. It grew and produced what turned out to be 4 decent sized but very tasteless pumpkins! Hurrah! I grew lemons. No let me rephrase that. Someone planted a lemon tree on the block YEARS before and it absolutely DROWNED us in lemons each year, through no effort of mine. One year we had a bumper crop of beans. Yeah: That was weird. I tried tomatoes. Since my grandmother supplemented her husband’s income by farming tomatoes around her 7 children, and my step dad grows OUTSTANDING tomatoes, I though maybe – just maybe – I had a genetic ‘tomato-growing’ advantage… The tomatoes grew GIANT. Well the plants did. Too bad they didn’t produce a single fruit.

Yep, if it were up to my gardening skills, my family would starve. But possibly the local insects and birds would be extremely well-fed.

I have a lot to learn.

What struck me reading Jackie French’s book, is that she lives in a very similar environment to that which we will be residing in on Hill Shadow Farm. A bushland valley, alive with wildlife. And the question that kept coming into my head again and again is “How the HELL does she do it?” How does she harvest veritable gluts of food for her family, while her garden is constantly under siege – by her own admission – from wombats, cockatoos and lyrebirds! Why don’t grubs eat all her spinach before she gets to pick any? Why don’t the weeds – which she admits to never pulling out – swamp her seedlings and take over the garden? Why aren’t her cucumbers furry and moldy? Why aren’t fruit fly attacking her peaches? What the hell is the secret?!?!

Oh man.

I have ALOT to learn.

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