Learn Your Land (And While You Do, Go Temporary)

Walnut protectedWhen we arrived here we set up temporary fencing to keep the pigs in. Those temporary fences bought us time. Time to figure out how the grazing would work in with all the other stuff and time to understand those little details that keep life simple – like big roadside gates for shifting stock etc. Needless to say the original fence configuration is a thing of the past.

My go-to style for temporary protection  is a couple of waratah’s a metre apart with a pallet slid over them. A row makes a primo fence. (Believe it or not this is what our avocado area looked like 4 years ago. You should see it now!)

pallet fence

When you begin a garden or first move onto a piece of land – temporary is your friend. Steer clear of permanent hard landscaping, fences and structures until you understand your land, and how all the parts are going to work together.

Because even though you know lots of smart stuff – you don’t know your land yet. And if you haven’t grown food before – well that’s a whole other kettle of fish. Unfortunately, a very romantic kettle (you know what I’m saying). If you’re overwhelmed get some help, or DIY and get your Permaculture design certificate.

A Good Foundation

There are important things to understand before decisions are made, before time and money is spent. Pencil and paper are your best tools here. Create a sketch of your place and record all these understandings as you come to them. Do this over 4 seasons and you’re in a strong position to start making good choices.

Permaculture design calls this process making a Basemap – and its super smart.


Kathand Matts Basemap

  • Where will the wind flit, where will it howl and where will it swirl?
  • Where will the spring rain tip the water table and bring puddles and ponds?
  • Will frost come, and where will it bite most?
  • What is bathed in sunlight (and when), and what languishes in shade?
  • What weed problems exist?
  • Whats beneath the sod? (How goes your soil?)
  • Where does the water come from? and go to?

Then you need a wishlist. Something to keep you focused. To be sure you fulfill your needs

  • What do you want to eat, to see and hear?
  • What do you need to be at peace?

And finally (but most importantly)

  • Will you have enough energy to look after this glorious garden of your dreams? And will there be enough left over to look after yourself?



Go Temporary

While you figure these things out, go temporary. Plant salads and herbs in banana boxes. Hold off on the fruit trees. Use old windows and scraps of plastic to fashion heat where you need it. Don’t spend money – use all the bits and pieces lurking in your shed, or troll through second hand shops.

Though these temporary accommodations and shelters (ideally) cost next to nothing, don’t be shonky. There will be wind and rain to live through, so make sure your structures are solid enough to go the distance. And word to the wise – easy to deconstruct.