I had the idea for An Optimistic Gardener after fulfilling my dream of moving to a bush block with loads of space for a garden. Here, I thought, I could bring my romantic vision of self-sufficiency to life with free-range chooks scratching happily in an orchard of fruit and nut trees. My children would snack directly from the bounteous veggie patch, lured by the colour and fragrance of nature.

The only hitch is my skill level and propensity for killing things.

I nonetheless keep trying and hope that this blog provides both amusement and inspiration as it tracks my occasional successes and many failures.

beeswax wraps

An Optimistic Project | Beeswax Wraps

Beeswax wraps are gaining popularity as a great way to keep food fresh without using plastic cling film, which ends up in landfill. If cared for properly they last about a year and – if made from natural fibres - can then be chucked into the compost to return to ...
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Q&A How to shop bulk wholefoods

My first visit to a bulk wholefoods store could be best described as apprehensive. It was in Mullumbimby, so for starters I probably stood out like lavender in a dandelion patch. I had no idea what most of the products were, felt too nervous to ask and hurried out without ...
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Sow and Reap – wins and losses of September

My little greenhouse has delivered a much-needed confidence boost, with most of last month’s seeds now thriving. The success motivated me to bang out two rounds of seed sowing in the past month, bringing me closer to the goal of planting something every week so I can harvest something every ...
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Garden inspirations | A holiday at Daylesford’s Permie Love Shack

How do you make a solo getaway even better for an optimistic gardener? Pack more books than clothes and lodge in the middle of a permaculture garden. Back in July a like-minded friend told me about Daylesford’s Artist As Family; self-proclaimed neo-peasants whose art is to demonstrate an alternative economy ...
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seed punnets

Sow & Reap – wins and losses of August

After a pathetic winter in which almost everything I planted died, the onset of spring – and the purchase of a small greenhouse – has laid a firecracker beneath me. In its first week, the greenhouse tipped over during a windy spell. Considering everything in it was already dead, it ...
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What to do about ants in your plants

Garden optimism is in increasingly short supply. Punnets of seeds failing to thrive; chooks escaping into garden beds to broaden their palate; sudden dumps of rain that go nowhere in our clay soil; frost that brings a gorgeous icy dusting to winter mornings before dissolving into a desolate wasteland of ...
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kangaroo apple hero

Indigenous secrets in your back yard

Bet you didn't know there could be contraceptives growing in your back yard. Or if not the yard, then very likely your local park. The ubiquitous kangaroo apple -which ironically self-seeded not far from our front door – contains steroids used to make more than half the world's contraceptive drugs ...
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Sow & Reap – wins and losses of May

This month I’ve had fun experimenting with quinces for the first time. Left to poach overnight in the slow cooker with cinnamon, cloves, vanilla and sugar syrup, the morning aroma is arresting. Even waiting for their turn in the fruit basket, the slowly yellowing quinces have stunned me with the ...
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Girl power is the buzz for bees

Who knew a workshop on honeybees would also provide a lesson in girl power? Yet that’s what happened when I took the kids off to learn about the importance of these little critters not only for honey making, but also on the small matter of global food supply. Apart from ...
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April sow reap hero

Sow & Reap – wins and losses of April

Despite it being school holidays – or perhaps because of it – I managed to do all my seed sowing within the first three days of the designated planting period*. Seeds sown last month seem to be coming along nicely; apart from the sugar snap peas, which were admittedly almost ...
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