“Believe that anything is possible.”
In May I drove to Melbourne and around Tasmania with those words stuck to my van’s interior. I read them every morning when I woke up.
“Believe that anything is possible.” It was a print of a painting by Stephanie Ryan.
At the time I was on a journey with my beloved dog Jordie, my dearest companion of 16 years. We were having her last harrah, as it was clear she was nearing the end of her days. Before then, I’d taken her for walks and let her off the leash on the oval of my small town, imagining what my life would be like when she was gone. Trying to prepare for how I would cope.
When the time came, I explored the Beauty of Gentle Transitions and found Lacey Jane, my gorgeous Cavoodle puppy. She’s been growing up these past few months and I’ve been growing too. Challenging my own presumptions of what is possible in this life. Discovering that what is possible is more than I dared to dream.
I’ve hinted at it in past blog posts, but I’m so happy to share this news with you… I’m deeply and resoundingly in love with a truly incredible man, Andrew.
He’s undoubtedly the Love of My Life.
The way it happened, was I joined eHarmony as a bit of a giggle, just to meet some men and perhaps make a few new friends (I work with and love spending time with lots of women, but I wasn’t meeting any men out here in the country) and low and behold I fell in love. With a man who truly loves me too.
Now, if you’re wondering how long it takes for your life to turn around, we met after sharing emails and phone calls over a period of weeks, got engaged after spending just eight days together and we’re getting married next week!!!
It sounds extreme, to be moving so fast, but it’s been so grounded right from the beginning and old-fashioned in our courtship’s solidarity it’s been truly wonderful. Especially since neither of us were looking to get married, until we met each other that is.
For a while we kept expecting to wake up and freak out one morning, wondering what the heck we were doing, but instead it’s kept growing stronger, even more solid and even more beautiful. We’re both so happy and amazed to have actually found each other.
Is anything really possible?
Perhaps anything is possible when you know your heart’s desire, set a date, and give yourself the support you need to make things happen. We’ve pulled together a wedding and planned a honeymoon within a month. And perhaps most incredibly, it’s been beautiful. Simple. Easy. Ridiculously fun. And joyful.
We’ve told our friends and family. Surprisingly, none have fainted or been overly shocked. In fact, some have said they weren’t surprised at all.
I’ve ordered three simple wedding dresses online. I’m trusting at least one will arrive in time for the big day. The others I’ll wear on intimate dinner dates with close family and friends around the county to celebrate our marriage after the ceremony.
We’ve ordered the rings. They should be ready a couple of days before the wedding.
We’ve booked a beautiful venue where we’ll say our vows and make promises to each other under a tree, with a handful of people we love as witnesses.
But really, I don’t care if the dresses don’t arrive or aren’t perfect, or that the engagement ring will only be on my finger for a couple of days before we marry, or even what other people think. I just can’t wait to be married to Andrew. To be his wife.
It’s not something I ever thought could happen, that I’d fall this hard, fast and so surely.
But we just Know.
There is a beauty and boldness in just Knowing. Loving. Stepping out. Taking a risk. But do you know what? The risk we’ve both felt was in not following our hearts in this case, which are saying, “This is it. You have found him/her. Leap!”
The Boldness of Knowing…
I’ve found there’s something incredibly freeing, stable and productive that comes from Knowing. And leaping. But leaping with a sense of Knowing.
When I think about it, so many of the great things in my life have come about from a sense of Knowing. Before the outcome could be guaranteed; buying a house in the country; planting a garden; holding my first art exhibition; booking flights anywhere overseas; enrolling in courses such as Bschool; getting engaged.
And this time, it’s getting married. We just Know. Nothing has ever felt more natural. Which has come as a surprise to both of us. We just fit. We are so compatible it makes our heads spin. Sometimes it’s not really about time passing in life, it’s about Knowing.
But it wasn’t quite as linear as that. Not as straight forward.
We both cleared our clutter first; emotionally and physically. We got clear on the kind of partner we needed and wanted (I’ve dated a lot of men over the years and found what does and doesn’t work for me). Andrew knew he needed an independent woman. Which, you may have noticed, I am. Then, we put ourselves out there and took action, sometimes in ways that felt uncomfortable, such as writing an online dating profile.
We truly are soul mates. And I didn’t even believe in soul mates until I met Andrew!
For a girl who’s lived, travelled, worked, gardened, and dreamed alone for such a large part of her life, it’s a wonderful, surprising twist in the story I’ve told myself would likely be my future.
I thought I’d be a spinster. Someone who had many relationships, but never a soul-mate. Someone who intimidated the socks off most men. Someone who was so independent I wouldn’t fit into another person’s life. I thought I would probably continue dating a weird and wonderful string of professions; salesmen, artists, musicians, gypsies, preachers, teachers and cleaners and possibly, only if I was lucky, find someone who would fit into my life for a short season before we’d inevitably move apart again.
But, instead, I’ve found Andrew, who’s had a life as unconventional as mine. We’ve both lived on boats and on islands. In fact he’s lived all around the country, from the Pilbara to Mole Creek. He’s worked in over 35 different jobs, is excellent at what he does, has a massive beautiful heart and a set of values I truly admire.
I’ve never met a man I respect more. Which is really saying something. I’m so honoured I’m going to be his wife, and so thrilled he’s going to be my husband.
We just Know it’s the best thing for us. And we can’t wait.
We laugh. We love nature. We draw together, write together, read together. We really, truly, actionably and deeply love each other. And we are prepared to work together, and support each other in developing a relationship and life together where we each feel safe, cherished, and able to shine at our best.
What I find interesting, in looking back, when my health was teaching me to listen to my body and my heart, I couldn’t see much more than trying to get through the next meal without excruciating inflammation. I couldn’t see how I could transform my health and life by planting a garden.
When my dog was dying, I didn’t see how I could have a new family before Christmas. But a few days ago Andrew and I took Lacey Jane for a walk, and as they played on the oval where Jordie used to run, I saw my new little family, ready-made and here, now.
Being open to life’s twists and turns, listening to your heart, checking in with what feels true for you in your body, and being brave to take action are some of the lessons I’ve found have helped shape a life I adore and keeps evolving into a bigger, brighter, better version of what’s possible. What excites me, is the opportunity to help shape a world where others enjoy what’s possible to create their own bigger, brighter and better lives and health too.
Living your own unconventional life…
If you want to live an Unconventional Life, where you call your own shots, choose your own path, march to your own drum, and follow your heart, I’ve found you will need a few things along the way:
- Following a deep sense of Knowing what is good for you
- A touch of ‘who cares what other people think’ perspective
- Faith you’ll be supported by the Universe no matter what
- Willingness, determination and persistence
- Spontaneity isn’t essential, but I’ve found it is a by-product of knowing & trusting yourself and leads to all kinds of wonderful experiences
We are getting married next week (!!!) and then heading away to Thailand for our honeymoon. So to celebrate, I’m offering a Honeymoon Special this month on The Abundant Veggie Patch System! Get all the details below…
Remember, “Believe that anything is possible.” Following your inspiration, taking action and stepping out to create a life, relationship or garden you love is so, so worth it.
You’ll get to know Andrew over the coming weeks, months and years too. He’s truly wonderful. I just love him to bits, and he loves me to pieces.
I’m sure you’ll like him too.
HONEYMOON SPECIAL —————»»
If you want my personal help in creating an organic veggie patch that supports your health, then you have 5 days left to commit to a VERY special one-off promo.
Go through The Abundant Veggie Patch System and get your garden set up for Spring, and you’ll also get an exclusive private coaching call with me ($350 value).
My Abundant Veggie Patch System has helped people around the world grow their own organic food using simple, low-maintenance methods.
Info here » http://www.nicolachatham.com/courses/the-abundant-veggie-patch-system
This 6-week virtual home study course doesn’t usually have any live component but I’m adding one as a special bonus to celebrate getting married.
Stop worrying about pesticides on your veggies and discover the simplest way to grow organic food. It’s YOUR time to grow abundant veggies, develop your ‘green thumb’ and support your health with the best food possible.
Join by the 16th November and you’ll be invited to an exclusive private coaching call with me ($350 value).
Info here » http://www.nicolachatham.com/courses/the-abundant-veggie-patch-system
End 2013 with a garden you’ve always dreamed of, knowing you’re eating the best, most nutritious and delicious organic food possible.
Some people’s heros are sports stars or celebrities, mine is Deny King.
I’m not very ‘hip’ when it comes to popular culture. Basically I’m pretty uncool. Jess Ainscough had to explain to me who the Kardashians were (I’ve still never seen them), Susana Frioni is always introducing me to new music like Rihanna, and they both still laugh about the time we were driving along listening to the radio and I mentioned some music I’d enjoyed the week before, asking ‘Is there someone called Adele?’ They both nearly wet themselves.
I don’t mind not knowing. And I’m glad my friends share with me what they enjoy. But I don’t have a lot of bandwidth in my life to go searching out the Hottest 100, reading magazines or watching reality TV. I don’t usually enjoy those things, so they just doesn’t cross my radar.
However, I do have a nose for sussing out some pretty unusual people. I tend to think of them as people who’ve lived unconventional lives. Whether they’re artists, naturists, Permaculturists, adventures, authors, or something else entirely, their stories inspire me and I’m excited to share one of my all time favourites, my true heros, with you today in what I anticipate will become a bit of a feature on my blog known as An Unconventional Life series..
Hang on to your hat. Here we go. No Arias, Oscars, A Lists or record deals here, just good old fashioned interesting people doing weird & wonderful things.
Introducing… Deny King.
He later got his own property where he built a home, worked as a tin miner and raised a family. The challenging conditions wouldn’t have suited everyone, but Deny adored nature and living close to the earth, and his lifestyle reflected those core values.
With a natural affinity for all sorts of wildlife, Deny loved painting the local birds. He also provided generous hospitality to visitors, and was said to be as strong as an ox. Plus, he could navigate and predict the weather like a true bushman.
Overall, Deny is remembered as a genuine, generous and gentle man.I read the story of his life about 8 years ago and his legend left an indelible mark on my psyche.
When I was in Tasmania earlier this year I took a light plane flight with Par Avion and visited his home in the south west corner of Tassie.
It turned out to be one of the best days of my life. Seriously.
I made a little home-video of the trip to share with you. Press play to come on an adventure to a truly remarkable place, made by a truly remarkable man.
Where it is…
Deny’s place at Melaleuca is in the south-western corner of Tasmania. We took off from Hobart and followed the coast down to his place, then flew back inland over the mountains. It was spectacular.
The flight to Melaleuca
The boat trip on Bathurst Harbour
Deny’s Veggie Patch & Garden
What a great day…
Deny had a simple, healthy lifestyle.
If you’d love to learn how to grow your own organic food, and live a little more of an ‘unconventional life’, check out my free video The 5 Secrets to an Abundant Veggie Patch. You can also download the free PDF guide to refer back to again and again.
In the video, I share what it really takes to start and grow your organic veggie patch. Plus, I share what every beginner gardener needs to know about making a garden that fits in with their busy lifestyle.
Have an awesome week Sprouter,
PS. If you want to find a fun way to live your own simple, healthy lifestyle, check out this video.
I’ve been away for six days. And six nights. Visiting beautiful gardens. Staying in millionaire’s homes. Visiting Fairfax’s incredible estate. Filming my dear gardening mentor Rosina’s workshop ‘Every Seed is a Miracle’. Getting inspired. Feeling grateful. Loving life.
So grateful my health keeps getting stronger.
To top it off, I came home and found a veggie patch and potted garden that’s thriving, despite not having any rain for ages. It pretty much prepared dinner for me, which meant I didn’t have to get take-away or plan my meal late at night, despite being away for a week.
God I love my garden. It makes creating healthy meals the most simple and straight forward choice. Even after a week away with nothing in the fridge.
So long as there’s a tin of smoked salmon or equivalent in the cupboard, dinner can be ready in under ten minutes!
I actually feel a little out of practice when it comes to writing… I’ve been so busy this month. Well, busy for the past few months actually. Keeping up a schedule that just one year ago I would have been pushing my health to accomplish.
These past few months I’ve been having fun:
- Speaking at the Earth Event’s Raw Beauty workshop
- Presenting two ‘Food as Medicine’ talks on the Sunshine Coast
- Filming the Edible Garden Series and designing Jess Ainscough’s gorgeous new organic garden
- Having a stall the the Women’s Lifestyle expo
- visiting Jamberoo Valley Farm & The Rift estate (check out the beautiful gardens in the photos below)
- Painting 13 new oil paintings for an exhibition
- Having ‘Beyond the Horizon’ exhibition open at Artpiece Gallery
- Speaking on radio (twice!)
- Flying to Sydney & visiting galleries there
- Filming Rosina’s Every Seed is Sacred workshop
- Illustrating a Permaculture garden design and writing an article for ABC Organic Gardener magazine
- Participating in two photo shoots
- Filming new modules for Grow Organic Food in Pots
- Renovating my veggie patch
- Forgetting to train Lacey Jane
- Buying an awesome new van
- Not to mention lots of very cool things happening in my personal life!
Wow. It’s been huge.
And the only way I can see I’ve been able to keep up the pace and not burn out, but instead wake up feeling awesome each day for months now, is because my health is more solid than it’s been for years and years and I put that down to having a simple, healthy lifestyle supported by my garden.
Yes. It really has made it so much easier to be busy when I don’t have to plan my meals other than to take a piece of organic meat out of the freezer to have with a massive fresh salad picked directly from the garden. I don’t have to spend hours preparing breakfast, lunch and dinner. It takes 10 − 15 minutes and tastes amazing. My stomach can digest the food easily because it’s so clean and fresh. Not to mention delicious!
I remember I used to lose days, weeks and months of productivity and fun because my digestive system was so bloated, inflamed and painful. It really was a nightmare. I’d be trying to listen to what someone was saying at an art exhibition opening and instead be thinking about the fact my gut felt like it was on fire. Which wasn’t what you’d call good for building relationships. Or I’d be asked to do a project and have to turn it down because I simply couldn’t rely on my health to be sure I’d be able to deliver the results.
At the height of the illness I spent most of my time in bed, and not in a good way.
It was in a ‘I-can-see-I’m-actually-fading-away-with-ribs-poking-out-and-will-have-to-book-into-hospital-to-go-on-a-drip-if-I-don’t-find-an-answer’ way.
Thankfully, I did find an answer. Mora therapy helped me discover my digestive system had been attacked by parasites and allowed my naturopath and me to test what foods I could eat that didn’t cause hours and hours of swelling. Interestingly, it was organic fruits and veggies I could eat without causing more pain. Week by week, month by month I got stronger. It’s taken a few years to really anchor my healing, but after this whirlwind of the past few months I’m actually impressed with my health for the first time since I was about 10 years old and bubbling around with energy as you do at that age.
Lately I keep thinking I’ll have to have a nap in the afternoon to get through the day, only to find it’s not necessary. In the mornings I wake up with a spring in my step and glint in my eye. ‘The day is here and I’m ready to rock it!’ I think, instead of rolling over and wishing for more sleep. I even get up around 6:30am! Previously unheard of unless I had to catch a plane.
I don’t live a perfectly healthy life. I still love to eat some rubbish now and then. But I know the cornerstone and foundation for my health is really strong with all the vibrant fresh herbs and greens I eat multiple times a day. In very large portions. And with great enthusiasm because they are so quick, easy, delicious, and you got it, nutritious!
Having a garden makes it easy to make excellent choices about what you’re fueling your body with.
It’s like finding the cleanest, most bubbling spring water and guzzling it right from the source with your face plunged into the water while slurping up the goodness.
Only with a garden, you can have control over it being right in your back-yard because you can create it. You don’t have to go searching for a spring at the foothills of a mountain. You can chose to create your own oasis. Making a veggie patch and growing organic food in pots has been the best investment in my health hands down. Better than supplements, better than doctors, better than gym membership. And a whole lot more rewarding and fun.
I’d love, love, love to help you make a beautiful potted garden to support your healthy lifestyle so you can have a simple and delicious way to fuel your body with goodness. If that sounds good, I invite you to check out my fun and interactive course Grow Organic Food in Pots. We begin next week and I can’t wait to work with you to create a lifestyle that is actually fun, interesting and rewarding while you support your health in the best way possible.
Here’s to learning to listen to your body and giving it what it needs so you can live a fulfilling, awesome life. It’s totally worth it Sprouter!
PS. My garden is my biggest support system for making it easy to live well. You could find the same thing is true for you xx
There’s something very special that happens when your student inspires you. Crystal Charles is that student. She participated in my online gardening course ‘Grow Organic Food in Pots’ last year and has totally run with all she’s learnt, creating an impressive potted garden for herself and her family.
On the weekend, Moriah Overell and I stopped in to have a tour of her garden and make this short video for you, to inspire you with what’s possible to achieve even in a small rental property when you grow organic food in pots.
Keep your eye out for the cutest upcoming gardener (you can’t miss her) and take note of the ways Crystal has increased her abundance by including two particular elements in her garden that save her time and money. It’s incredible how much she’s got growing in her back-yard, even as a busy mum who travels away and regularly leaves the garden to its own devices.
Grow Organic Food in Pots is now OPEN for enrollment. We’ll be kicking off the first module on 14 October, so get in quick. Learn all about what’s included in the course & if it’s right for you.
This season there are new videos showing you how to do everything from adjust your soil’s PH, to how to build a trellis, prick out seedlings and much more. It’s going to be awesome! Plus, our online community just keeps getting bigger and more active as beginner gardeners around the world are supporting each other in their gardening adventures. Join us ~ it really is tons of fun.
What are you inspired to do in your garden this season? What’s the next development you want to achieve? Share your plans in the comments below!
This week I had the absolute pleasure of a garden visit and morning tea with my gorgeous gardening mentor, Rosina Buckman.
We decided to make an impromptu video to share with you some of the incredibly valuable, and actually life changing tips, she taught me years ago about making an organic garden to support my health.
In the video you’ll discover how to make soil that practically grows your plants without you, what the three most important things are to remember when you’re a beginner gardener and you’ll also see Lacey Jane give Rosina all kinds of opportunities to loose her train of thought.
Rosina, you are a gem. I wouldn’t be enjoying the health I now do without you, and I wouldn’t have a garden as abundant as it is without your tips.
I hope you enjoy joining us for morning tea and a chat, Sprouter!
Want to see more Rosina goodness? Check out this post I wrote a couple of years ago about visiting Rosina’s open garden. It really was a tropical paradise on a very small, suburban block.
And here are the videos Rosina mentions during our chat about how to make ‘Chop Chop Compost’ and a ‘Raised Tank Bed’. They are wonderfully inspiring and informative.
My online course Grow Organic Food in Pots is launching this week! If you haven’t already checked out ‘The 5 Secrets to Growing Organic Food in Pots’, make sure you do while this free video is available (just for a short time.)
This season I’m so excited because we’re filming new professional training videos for the course, including how to identify and deal with pests organically, individual plant profiles with tips on how to grow them in pots, how to make compost and much, much more. You won’t want to miss it if you want to grow organic food in pots at your place, on your balcony or in your rented house.
It’s tonnes of fun!
PS. Not sure if growing organic food in pots is for you? Check out the free video and it will give you more of an idea
What did you take away from Rosina’s tips? Have you tried making compost or a raised garden bed? Share you experience in the comments below!
I’m currently preparing for an exhibition. Evenings involve phone calls to friends with a paintbrush in hand, glasses of wine, and dancing with Lacey Jane to Underworld, Carla Bruni, or U2 as I play in the studio.
And I like to call it play. Not work. It feels different when I approach it as play.
But I’ve noticed a funny thing as a creative person. Something to do with my mind getting in the way. Perhaps you’ve experienced it in your garden? It’s all the same thing. Any time we set out to create something, whether it be a painting, a herb garden or a short story, the mind loves to throw up all kinds of reasons why we shouldn’t, can’t, won’t.
For me, lately, it was about cost.
You see, with the very smooth, fine work I’ve been doing, I need a new brush, sometimes three, per painting to finish them off. I can’t simply reuse an old brush. I need the fresh tip, the clean bristles, the soft ends to blur the paint without streaking it. When I try to reuse an old brush, it makes me think I can’t paint. Like I’ve lost the knack. But really, I’m not using the tool I need to create the effect I desire.
But, I buy my brushes from Brisbane. Close to two hours away. And a new brush just seems so extravagant for every new work I create. It doesn’t feel logical or reasonable. Like I should just make do.
The mind loves to come up with these kinds of blocks. To keep us on the couch, or in bed, or gossiping around a table, where we can safely consume and critique instead of create.
Steven Pressfield calls it resistance. I call it normal.
And usually, with a little prodding, a little awareness, a little self-reflection, we can unravel the fear motivating these ideas. And move forward into the unknown (and exciting) world of creating something new.
So yes, it is a long way to Brisbane. But I’ve since found an online art store who’ll ship to me. So I order 10 new brushes at a time. They arrive within days.
And yes, it is an expense, to buy a new brush for each canvas. But in the scheme of things, it’s a small investment. I sell my paintings from $1200 to $5000, so spending $8 on a brush is well justified. Not to mention the joy it brings my soul to be working with equipment that allows me to do what I love.
Sometimes, I just tell my mind everything’s ok and to just look at it as the price of a movie ticket. That usually works.
But I have to consciously think about it, until I break through that block of resistance, and then I can do it automatically next time. It does get easier. You can get smart about what your mind throws up and recognise it simply as resistance.
When you’re a beginner gardener, your mind will create resistance for you, too.
You may be considering making a herb garden, but your mind says all kinds of things like “What if it doesn’t work? Your partner will think you failed”, or “It’s going to take too much time, you can’t spend an entire weekend getting it set up,” or “It will cost too much. Just continue to go without and save your money.”
We all have these ideas in some form or another. And they’re all the same thing. They’re just our mind trying to protect us from pain. But the lovely thing is we can recognise them for what they are and dig a little deeper to find the root (mind the pun) of these thoughts and put them aside. Into the compost heap, hopefully.
So, what if it doesn’t work? What if your plants die?
Well, at the very least you’ll have had a new activity to play with. You’ll have plunged your fingers into soil and reconnected with nature. You’ll have had a moment out of the daily grind doing something different.
It’s also unlikely they’ll die overnight, so you’ll have at least had fresh herbs for a few weeks, or even months. You’ll have enjoyed seeing them, smelling them and of course eating them before they die.
And you could increase your chances of success with a little research and education (Grow Organic Food in Pots is a great place to start and begins later this month). You’ll also have increased your knowledge of what not to do next time. All very valuable. And good for your soul.
It’s natural to fear failure. It’s just helpful to remember it’s not a bad thing, in fact it’s normal.
Failure is only learning wrapped up in a little bit of shame. Unwrap the shame and you’re simply left with learning.
Plus you’ll be a few steps closer to what you really desire.
What if you don’t have time?
My friend came for lunch yesterday. She told me something I’d forgotten.
She said she’d love a herb garden, but it’s become this huge thing in her mind; because it would take too much time. She said she thinks she’d need to put aside a whole weekend to get it set up, and she’s got too much going on to dedicate that much time to making a potted garden.
Even though she knows it would only take a couple of hours to drop into the nursery, get the supplies and set it up. And knows it would bring her so much joy every day.
Tricking your mind into taking action by taking tiny steps is the best way I’ve found around the thought of ‘I don’t have enough time’.
Break it into small chunks. “I’ll just work on this little corner of the painting here,” I say to make my mind relax. “We’ll just add a little bit of blue,” and with a daub and a dash, a sweep and a stroke, I’ve been able to transform a painting in a fraction of the time my mind tells me it will take. But I had to trick myself into beginning. You can do the same.
“I’ll just pick up some potting mix on the way home from picking up the kids.” And then, a few days later, “I’ll just see if those pots under the house are still there.”
Tiny, sneaky steps, get us past the ‘Time Keeper Nazi’ in our mind.
It will cost too much.
When my mind says something will cost too much, and it’s something I can feel my soul really, truly desires, I do a few things.
I check in to see if my mind’s trying to trick me into believing a false economy. Like with my paint brush. Buying supplies to create a painting or a garden does cost money. But it also brings returns, so in fact it’s an investment, not a frivolous expense.
I ask myself:
- What is the cost to do it?
- Is there a quality alternative that’s more affordable?
- What is the cost of not doing it?
- What is the return? Spiritually, economically & physically.
- What is the return on investment over time?
It’s quite possible our current living conditions could change in our lifetimes. War could break out. Technology, GMOs, food production methods will continue to evolve. And these things could mean food becomes scarce or much more expensive. I’m not a pessimist, but I’d sure like to know how to grow a little bit of food for myself in those circumstances. It’s just common sense and practical insurance.
But on a more immediate level, growing organic food saves my students money every week at the grocery store. One past Abundant Veggie Patch System graduate is having a lean month and said how wonderful it is to make a nutritious lunch from the garden, knowing she didn’t have to buy the ingredients. It does all add up. In fact, a garden can produce literally thousands of dollars of organic food, EVERY year for you. That’s a pretty good return on investment in my books.
Plus, if you don’t have a veggie garden, you’re simply not eating the most nutritious food you can get. You’re eating old food that’s lost its enzymes and vitality. As soon as a plant is harvested, it begins losing nutrients and those all important enzymes. So changing your food miles to foot steps is excellent for your health.
Which can save you money on health care, practitioners, supplements and sick leave.
A garden is actually a very good thing for saving money. It takes some initial outlay, but it can continue producing food for years to come, and like with painting, increase in value over time.
So, dearest Sprouter, I’m off to put a few last touches on a canvas, have a shower and change out of my paint covered clothes, and head over to help the gorgeous Jess Ainscough make her balcony garden. (We’ve been filming the whole process and you can follow along with us on her blog this month).
Finally, if you want to create something in your life, instead of consume, remember these three tips:
- Failure is actually only learning, leading you closer to what you truly desire.
- Break things down into tiny steps. You’ll be amazed at what you can do in small chunk of time.
- Don’t believe in a false economy. Investing in your desires will bring dividends to your soul, health and back pocket, especially over time.
PS. My exhibition opens 26 September at Artpiece Gallery in Mullumbimby, NSW. You’re invited to the opening night! I’d love to see you there. We might have a special afternoon tea and artist talk on Saturday afternoon too. If you’re interested in the details, just email me at email@example.com.
This week I’ve been having fun designing Jess Ainscough’s (The Wellness Warrior’s) new organic garden, and I’m going to let you in on few secrets I’ll be helping her to discover to make a thriving garden. These secrets are Permaculture principles that increase our abundance, simplify life, and make gardening more fun. Let’s dive in!
#1. Diversity Is The Key To Abundance
Once we’ve made our gardens, we don’t want to plant a monoculture, or just one type of plant in neat rows. Why? Because when we do, it’s like inviting a caterpillar or slug to slide down the row and munch on all their favourite foods. Chomp, chomp, chomp. “Mmmm, I luuurve lettuce!”.
When you plant different species in your garden it will confuse pests and stop them from gobbling row after row of their favorite plant. If they find a kale next to a lettuce, it could be like, “Augh! I hate kale!” And they’ll stop right in their tracks instead of continuing to gobble all your lettuces in an afternoon.
By mixing up your garden bed palntings with flowers, herbs, veggies and you’ll be sure to confuse the bugs.
Planting a diversity of crops is also great natural insurance to ensure you’ll always have something in season to eat from your garden.
#2. Perennials Are The Gift That Keep on Giving
Perennials are amazing. They feed me everyday, save me hours and hours of time replanting each season, and can do the same for you!
In my garden I have sorrel, Vietnamese mint, strawberries and Lebanese cress to name a few, and they all keep producing food year after year. I love Lebanese cress, and I highly recommend it. It’s a delicious leafy green that’s nutritious and easy to grow. I think it tastes like carrot, but some people say it tastes more like celery. Vietnamese mint is great, too. I’ve planted it at rental properties in the past and as long as it gets enough water, you can’t kill it.
#3. Multiple Uses Save You Money
The third secret is multiple uses. Get more bang for your buck by having plants you can use for more than one thing – abundance without expense! Think about all the ways you can use your plants.
I use arrowroot as a windbreak, but I also eat the tubers. Lemongrass makes a great tea, is used in Asian cooking and the leaves are great for mulch. Comfrey is incredibly nutritious, great for healing broken bones, and it’s also a great compost activator.
Plant things you can use for more than one thing, and bam, you’ve doubled or tripled your abundance without spending more time or money.
#4. Zones Increase Your Energy & Productivity
The last secret is zones. Zones give you increased energy and productivity in your yields. Basically, the idea is to plant those things you harvest the most, the closest to you.
So, you’d want to plant your leafy greens and herbs closest to your kitchen. Further back, plant your cabbages and carrots that are going to take a bit longer to grow. Finally, plant your perennials like artichoke and asparagus farthest from the kitchen because you won’t have to visit those plants as regularly. It will make your life easier!
The Abundant Garden Clarity Formula
Sometimes life gets hectic and the garden is pushed down your priority list. That’s okay. In fact, it’s normal. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Instead, just ask yourself, “Am I eating something from my garden?” Even if you’re only harvesting herbs, then it’s doing its job and you are creating abundance. It may not be the picture you had in your mind, but that’s okay.
Seasons come and seasons go and your garden will be in a state of constant flux. Shifting my focus to this simple question keeps me from worrying about perfection and lets me appreciate what I do have. I’ve found that not holding myself ransom over how the garden looks makes it so when I do have the time and energy to devote to planting new things it’s a joy and not a chore.
A Word of Wisdom From My Grandpa
My final secret for you is something my grandpa taught me. He taught me to stay inquisitive and keep learning. In fact, when I would tell him about my gardening failures, he would just say, ”Oh well, dear. Just keep trying.”
Like everything in life, it takes time to develop your garden and your green thumb. Every year you will get better and gardening will become easier. Your ‘soiledge’, that is, the mixture of your soil and your knowledge, will grow. Keep reading your gardening blogs, books and getting together with other people on the same educational journey through online courses or community groups.
And remember, to have lots of fun along the way as long as you stay optimistic and positive and keep an attitude of gratitude. Be kind to yourself and remember that gardening is a journey and discovery with every new day.
Enjoy creating your own abundance, Sprouter!
Have you tried any of these planting strategies in your garden? Share you experience with these or other tips you have for planting success in the comments below!
PS. I have 10 packets of Luffa Seeds still available as bonuses when you get your copy of Grow Abundant Herbs & Greens… in Pots. Luffas are such a fun plant to grow, I don’t want you to miss out! Buy your copy here and I’ll send you a packet of free luffa seeds as your bonus gift. xx
Today I want to share with you an amazing, unusual plant that will make your tummy tingle and your skin sparkle. It has so many uses, you’ll love it…
- You can stir fry it.
- You can steam it.
- You can add it to soups.
- You can spiralise it and eat it raw in salads.
- You can even grate it and have it with dips.
- Plus you can, ahem, use it in the shower.
What am I talking about? The very clever luffa plant! You know those sponges you get at the store to use for exfoliating? They don’t come from the sea, as they first appear, they actually grow on a vine.
I’ve just harvested mine and saved the seeds to give to YOU!
What I’d love to do, is send you a free packed of luffa seeds with every Grow Abundant Herbs & Greens… in Pots ebook purchase. There are only 20 packets, so get in quick! Please note, I can only send seeds to Australian residents, as there are quarantine laws prohibiting international shipping. So, if you’re in Australia and thinking of buying my ebook, today’s a great day to do it and get a free packet of luffa seeds as well.
I’ll include instructions on how to grow them, and yes, you can even grow them in pots (they just need a fence or other support to climb up). As far as eating them goes, they taste like zucchini and are lovely and sweet when they’re about 15cm long.
If you want to let them grow into a sponge, leave them on the vine until they are full sized, then puncture a hole in the base with your thumb to let their liquid drain out. That way, they’ll dry on the vine for you. When the skin is hard, brown and crackly, peel it off, shake out the seeds, and leave the sponge in the sun for a couple of days to naturally bleach the colour.
If you’d like some free seeds from my place, grab your copy of Grow Abundant Herbs & Greens… in Pots today and I’ll send them to you so you can have your own fun growing sponges, eating their fruit and enjoying their pretty yellow flowers.
If you’re an international Sprouter, try Googling “Buy Luffa Seeds + Your Country” and see if you can score some of these clever little plants for your garden. They are a total delight… Not to mention a great talking point when friends visit. You can even use them as scourers in the kitchen.
Have you grown luffa before? If so, tell us about your experience in the comments below.
Have a wonderful day, Sprouter,
Want to see the luffas at my place? Check out this video from a couple of years ago with me in the garden telling you all about them… They’re pretty funny looking things
You probably don’t know what I’m about to share with you. It’s a little piece of my past I don’t often talk about, but I thought it might inspire you to look at your life differently and be grateful for whatever you have, so here goes.
When I was growing up, my parents were millionaires. And a million dollars went a lot further back then than it does now. We had the whole kit and kaboodle… a 40 foot sailing boat, 7 series BMW, new 4WD, sexy little sportscar, a five bedroom mansion on an island with a library, seven and a half bathrooms, gymnasium, men and ladies dressing rooms, lap pool, and heated spa, plus world holidays for weeks at a time, and the admiration of a lot of people.
But when I was fifteen my parent’s marriage broke apart, and as a result I became quite debilitatingly depressed. Their marriage had been, by most accounts, an iconic relationship people looked up to and wanted to emulate, so the fact they were splitting up came as quite a shock.
With the exhaustion and shame I felt, I left school and didn’t finish grade 10. Not long after, I left home and went from living with all my material needs more than adequately met, to living on a tiny fraction of the money I’d grown up with. Because, well, I didn’t have much experience or education to make even a normal income.
But this wasn’t a bad thing. In fact, I saw it as quite a challenge.
Eventually I moved into a little cottage in the suburbs of Brisbane to begin studying art at TAFE, and set about furnishing my place. I slept on the floor with a doona for a while, had a leaky fridge donated by my sympathetic neighbours, and bought a couch from St. Vinnies… for $12! And gosh how I loved that couch. It was fake brown leather, with green cushions and kind of hideous when I think about it, but I was so grateful to be somewhere I felt safe, it didn’t matter. Plus, it was mine.
I hadn’t gone into dept over it. I hadn’t had to sell my soul for it. I didn’t owe anyone anything for that couch. And it served me for a number of years, until a friend gave me a stained sofa that doubled as my guest bed for another few years.
Money isn’t what motivates me. I’ve found, as long as I have enough to feel the freedom to travel (whether it’s a camping trip up the road or a trip to Europe) and be spontaneously creative, I’m happy. And often, it doesn’t take that much to fund adventures.
Over the past two decades I’ve experienced what it’s like to live with a little and what it’s like to live with a lot. And what I’ve found to be the most satisfying, is not the money itself, but what I do with it and how it serves me. I’ve found a little bit of creativity can go a loooong way. And the satisfaction of being creative can fill a hole even millions of dollars can’t fill.
This past weekend I had a complete ball ‘furnishing’ my veggie patch.
I rediscovered Gumtree.com.au where people buy, sell, swap and give away items they no longer want or need. It’s a fantastic recycling service, in the true sense of the word, in that no manufacturing or extra fossil fuel is needed to give those goods another life. They just exchange hands and make a new home with someone else.
So anyway, I found these lovely wooden outdoor chairs and when I went to collect them in the van, I turned up to a gorgeous woman’s new home. On her deck was something that completely delighted my soul. My eyes danced all over what I saw.
She’d used a special kind of vision and restrained handiwork to create art, with plants!
What she’d done, was put succulents in simple white teacups, coffee mugs, teapots and other white containers and clustered them all together to form a series of succulent delights. They looked like little sculptures. I was so taken with their gorgeousness, I stopped in at the tip shop on the way home (I’d already been to visit that morning to pick up some other chairs) and gathered together six white pieces of crockery and two little bowls. They cost me a grand total of $5.
Then I came home and Lacey Jane played around me as I broke off branches of a jade plant one fellow had given me that morning (also from Gumtree). I found a few other varieties of succulents I already had, and broke pieces off them too, planting them all in the little cups.
The most fiddly part was rinsing the dirt off the outside without washing out the soil.
Placed at the end of my kitchen counter, those living sculptures have already quadrupled in value in my satisfaction, love and inspiration levels. They also stop me putting my keys and bag there, which really used to clog up the ‘flow’ of the space. Now, it feels modern, alive, clean, white & green.
I was so smitten with my new little gems, I found a woman (also on Gumtree) who sells succulents and went to visit her the next day. She had thousands of plants, a wonderful story to share (she and her partner race speedway cars all around the country as their hobby!) and I expanded my collection even further. The cost? Less than the cost of fresh flowers for a month.
And the return? I got to meet lovely new people, see how they live, share their stories, and connect in a way we don’t often get to with shop-assistants. Plus, I’ve now got over 35 unique, unconventional centrepieces that will grow more in value over the months and years and fill my well of inspiration and visual delight in the process.
Try making succulent delights for yourself! Here’s how:
1. Get yourself some cups, teapots, bowls and containers. I’ve found all white ones look stunning together. Metal, tin or silver are also timeless.
2. Add plenty of gravel, course sand or stones to the bottom, for drainage, then a layer of soil. It can even be dirt from the garden, succulents are so hardy they don’t have to have high quality potting mix like veggies do.
3. Break off a piece of succulent from a friend’s plant, or pick up a few plants of your own from Gumtree, your local market or nursery, and poke the stem into the soil.
4. If your container doesn’t have drainage holes, you’ll need to keep it undercover so they don’t drown in water when it rains (I’ve put mine on my balcony and indoors where they still get natural sunlight). Plus, you’ll need to restrain yourself and only give them a little drink very occasionally. They’re more likely to die from overwatering than anything else.
5. Fill a bucket with water, and gently lower the teacup or container into it so the water doesn’t enter the container, to wash off any dirt on the sides.
6. Cluster them together on a windowsill, bench top or shelf, and voila! You’ve just turned trash into treasure.
Enjoy what you have and what you can make use of, Sprouter. The world is truly an abundant place, no matter how much money you have.
While I was away in the van, I visited a cosy little restaurant in Coles Bay, next to Freycinet National Park in Tasmania. There, they had piles of wonderful magazines on homes, interiors and architecture, none of which I’d seen before (which isn’t surprising, since I don’t often read magazines).
I took photos with my iphone of interiors and exteriors that struck me, thinking ‘Ah yes, that looks good. That’s what I want.’
There were white chairs with metal crisscrossed legs surrounding large wooden dinning tables, inbuilt bookshelves, raised garden beds in shiny corrugated iron tanks, and decks made of gorgeous hardwood timber.
I drove home, had the precious ceremony for Jordie’s passing, found Lacey Jane, then set to work calling house painters, landscapers, and builders to update my home and garden.
Except, thankfully, there were a couple of talisman type experiences along the way suggesting I take stock, before painting my house white, getting in a bulldozer to flatten the veggie patch, install gravel pathways, build three new raised garden beds, and a stone covered eating area out the back.
The first was I met a Portuguese gypsy at the Byron Bay Writer’s Festival. He lives in a truck and grows herbs in little planter boxes along his only window; citronella for natural insect repellant, rosemary and chilli for culinary delights, and aloe vera for herbal remedies.
The simplicity of his life was appealing. He’d created his own abundance using very simple materials.
“I don’t read magazines or watch television,” he said. “I don’t want them influencing me, telling me how I should be living. That’s why my kitchen is like it is. I’ve made it how I like it. To suit me. It’s nothing like you see in magazines.”
It was custom built, with timber racks holding the plates and cups so they didn’t fall out when the truck was on the move, and were easily accessible in a rustic ‘country kitchen’ kind of way.
In his earlier years he’d transformed a property in Tasmania into a sustainable little haven with a vegetable garden, water tanks, passive solar heating and reconstructed the dilapidated little wooden huts that came with the block.
He showed me photos and the resulting little ‘village’ was incredibly delightful, with stone paths he’d made from rocks he’d gathered from a little stream in his gully.
Then, last week my artist friend Rebecca Ross came to stay.
It was the first time she’s been able to visit in the three years I’ve lived here, and the veggie patch wasn’t in the best shape to be showing off after my two months away in the van. But, there is a lovely quality artists have, and it’s this… vision.
Plus Becc happens to be a special kind of artist. The perfect kind, as it turned out, at this point in my garden’s evolution.
Her art practice is focused predominantly on site, history, and the significance of place. In fact, while she was staying here she created a Facebook page to save a local Gold Coast building from demolition. The page got so many likes overnight, it turned into a busy media campaign with reporters interviewing her from ABC radio, the Gold Coast Bulletin, Channel 10 News actually coming to my place to film her, and on the weekend she was in the Sunday Mail.
All from a little Facebook page, it was totally incredible. It showed me how many people are invested in saving our heritage and not all about demolishing the old to make way for the new. It was refreshing to see, especially for a young city like the Gold Coast.
But Becc wasn’t only working towards saving the Miami Ice Factory while she was here, she was also helping save my little veggie patch. And I’m so grateful she did.
“I think it would be a shame to lose what you’ve already done here Nic. I think you should work with what you’ve created. It just needs some definition. Live and let live.”
I’d slipped down a hole of thinking what my garden ‘should’ look like. How it ‘should’ function in order to host gardening workshops and retreats. I saw clean lines, hard edges, utilitarian, modern design. So it would be acceptable and fulfil modern-day, cosmopolitan expectations.
But I’d forgotten something.
I don’t actually want that. I don’t want the work that goes into keeping a perfectly neat garden. I don’t want a vacuous space filled with gravel in the sub-tropics, where it’s so fertile weeds can literally grow in the moist air. I don’t want something from a magazine.
I want Nic’s Place.
“I kind of like the weeds in the pathways,” said Becc. And it reminded me, I do too. I had mint growing around stepping stones I’d been using for herbal teas. And the cobblers pegs, wild sorrel and blue top are all edible, if not a little unruly. They are friendly, quite pretty weeds who serve a purpose; adding nutrients to the soil, acting as a living mulch, and many are actually just as, if not more, nutritious than the plants I purposely grow to eat.
So, with her refreshing reminder and acceptance, Becc and I had two fun-filled days cruising around demolition yards, picking up white picket fence panels, a perfectly pink oriental umbrella, a stainless steel planter tub, a lovely green rustic metal ladder, and a hard-wood table for a quarter of the price of a day’s bulldozing.
These simple additions have been like ‘styling’ my veggie patch, in a way I didn’t know was possible. And LOTS of fun.
“Be resourceful,” Becc’s words rang in my ears as I painted over three out-door chairs I didn’t like the colour of.
With her reminder I also noticed I had piles of resources just lying around the garden waiting to be used; bags of mushroom compost, boxes of rock minerals, a coil of corrugated iron garden edging to curve around the base of the herb spiral, bricks that could be piled up to make a handsome ‘stone wall’ edging.
Consolidating, being resourceful, and prioritising my true wants and needs has meant I’m proud of my garden, not in dept, and inspired to spend time out-doors in a space that, with some new fencing, will be safe for Lacey Jane.
I encourage you to work with what you have. Give it some love. Be grateful. Share your appreciation with the universe. Allow what is, to be.
You may be surprised how you’ll see things with new eyes when you look at them with a healthy dollop of humility and gratitude. And you can still have your cake and eat it too (in fact Becc made a delicious almond and mandarin cake with fruit from my trees while she was here, talk about delighting your tastebuds!).
Now, if you love the things you see in other people’s gardens, truly love them, and want to follow their design because you love it, that’s a great idea. I was just surprised to find I was trying to create something my mum would like, or future visitors to my garden would be impressed by, or something from the pages of Inside Out.
I’d been a little duped, shamed, embarrassed, and hastily tried to shape my garden into a space that didn’t take into account the conditions surrounding it… my sub-tropical climate, increasingly busy lifestyle, artistic aesthetic, and where I really want to invest (hello, art studio!).
I know it’s what I teach all the time, ‘make a garden that supports you’, I just needed a little reminder that it’s ok to do that even after being inspired by the pages of a gorgeous magazine. What you create can be gorgeous too, with your own style, touch, and needs taken into account. You can create your own “Nic’s Place,” only with your name in place of mine.
Embrace where you are and what you have. In this moment. It can always change down the track. I believe doing what you love and what lights you up is revolutionary. Be a revolutionary and carve out your own authentic place.
PS. The wooden “Nic’s Place” sign was a hand-made gift from fellow Sprouters Lyall & Kristine. It, along with all their other gifts, have been such a beautiful blessing. Thank you Lyall and Kristine for your love and support.
PPS. My new “Grow Abundant Herbs & Green… in Pots” ebook is finished! Filled with practical tips, step-by-step instructions, inspiring ideas and pest-management advice, it’s got you covered.
You’ll discover how to turn your balcony, court-yard or even window-sill into a delectable garden full of herbs and greens for your salads, soups, herbal teas and more. It will help you embrace your space, and enjoy growing (and eating!) more home-grown herbs and greens in your daily life.
I’m so excited & proud of this little gem. I know it’s going to really help a lot of people figure out the secrets to growing a delicious herb garden. And I’d LOVE to help you, so grab your copy here today.