It's coming up to a year since I moved to my half-acre block in Tasmania's glorious Huon Valley and I haven't done much writing since...mostly because my average day off involves wandering out the back door a little after a leisurely breakfast and being distracted by a series of tasks that seems to take me until late afternoon.

I've enjoyed taking my time with developing the site, and where to put structures, and beds, and paths and plants. I've sat on a lot of decisions for a while before realising they were a bad idea and I've been putting into practice my old habit of just looking at a space until inspiration hits. Some spaces have needed more stare-hours than others...

My vision for the property is something of an old-fashioned rambling garden - but incorporating elements of permaculture philosophy, a smattering of whimsy, a mix of Old World European with Australian native and not so much damned lawn! The house isn't in need of very much work aside from a few minor jobs so most of the focus has been the garden.

One of the main projects I've tackled - with some help from family - has been removing a massive, dense hedge on the eastern boundary that was admittedly a nice privacy screen but blocked most of the morning light from the veg beds behind it.

Before: Grass and crap soil
Now: Kale, chard, garlic, fennel, cabbage, endives, spring onions, beetroot, Chilean guavas, sweet peas, chamomile, parsley, blueberries, raspberries and broad beans and much happier soil
The main kitchen garden is underway - and is located in the front north-facing corner of the property. Up until now that area was a mix of different grasses and fairly unhealthy soil. I spent a couple of months in late summer building bed frames, working in a lot of compost, worm castings, manure and a bit of pre-prepared soil, and adding heavy mulch to paths and now have seven beds with winter crops and transplanted dormant blueberry and raspberry plants. The soil is already looking a lot better and has a good population of fat worms. Eventually it'll be a mix of vegies, herbs, insect-attracting flowers, shrubs and berries, plus a couple of dwarf-stock fruit trees. Quite a radical change from a patch of boring lawn!

I've been gradually working on creating a fernery in the shady section behind the house - with most of my large and luscious ferns having grown from a pix and mix of small seedlings that I bought from a nursery over a year ago.

I've also been spending a lot of time learning about how to deal with the harvest! From unusual offerings such as the ancient medlar fruit, to damson plums, olives and strawberries - each new glut throws up a flurry of google searches as I try and find ideas that go a bit beyond 'freeze or make jam'

At the moment I'm enjoying the lull in harvesting to get back to a little tidying, planning and building a few more veg beds from materials scoured on the cheap.

There's a big batch of compost brewing in readiness for summer, the medlars are steeping in brandy, early bulbs are starting to poke through in preparation for early spring flowering and my to-do list isn't getting any shorter, but I think that I can say I've made a good start.

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