The benefits of stooping low

petitparadis paddock

6:45 am Early Morning Training

One hour and ten minutes of squats – while picking up horse manure and hauling feed bags of the stuff to the ute. Then off-loading at the house garden.

It wasn’t as much of a marathon effort at last time as I was limited as to how long I could stay. But I wanted to fit it into the day because, I like to keep the paddock relatively clear for the owner so that I keep getting invited back. I prioritise the areas where the vehicles have to pass over so that at least they are not squishing into cow pats and horse dung unnecessarily. 

This time around there were some further observations. Most of the dung was already starting to break down and was quite crumbly. I wasn’t so surprised after the recent rain over the last few weeks. There were also dung beetles, which I’d seen evidence of before but not as active and prevalent as they were today.

It was great to get out and get some air while the day was just starting. A bit of peace and some bird song. Just before it was time to leave the sun was getting quite warm and the flies were starting to come out. A good time to depart.

This lot of manure is likely to be for the next crop of corn. The pop corn is just starting to look like flowering and I have another corn variety I’d like to squeeze into the growing season to keep the seed fresh.

The Throwing of the Seed

petitparadis garden bed

The new garden is bolting.

Seeds are ripening and reaching for the sky. It is coming to a close, the initial burst of vigor. Underneath this cloak of leaves and seeding pods are pumpkins and melons. Growing, engorging themselves towards mature fruit.

Mrs PP and the Littlest Fella took delight in scattering marigold seed around the garden beds on Monday. Sowing the seed in the simplest of ways with the most rewarding effort.

Despite light showers it is still requiring regular watering and this is the crucial time to get regular water to it so that fruits develop. 

The tradies are amazed at how quickly the garden has ‘shot up’. Now seed sowing is required so that we get a good crop of greens and vegetables during summer.

Mulch Production


I have a growing forest of tagasaste seedlings climbing to the sky. I’ve recently repotted them into individual pots to encourage quicker growth. They are doing well and will eventually be a key part of our Phases of Abundance scenario for the new garden.

As summer approaches in the southern hemisphere the garden is drying out quickly and we are still a couple of weeks out from moving to the house – which means sorting out some method of watering the garden that is going to do the job in the meantime.

Presently I’m using prunings, cardboard and grass clippings to mulch patches of exposed sand in order to keep sand and dust moving about with the coastal wind. I really need to be planting out further potted plants but that is proving difficult at the moment with making the time – uninterrupted.

Time is of the essence however. So given the tagasaste are proving quick growers I am at least giving them the time and care they need on our balcony at home to ensure I have healthy plants for the eventual planting out on the block.

The various acacia species that we planted at the top of the block are starting to put on good growth which is encouraging.

I’ve heard various reasons for choosing plants and trees for creating mulch. Some prefer to opt for large, slow to decompose leaves. In our situation I am looking for diversity so that I benefit from as many characteristics of mulch producing plants and trees as possible. For example the tagasaste have small leaves which will fall often and break down quickly given their size. I can also used branches or prunings to create mulch that will take longer to break down. The other benefit is that they will hold their leaves over the drier parts of the year to at least give some shade to areas of soil in the garden – plus create some privacy from the back road.

Other characteristics of mulch producing plants and trees are:

  • They are easily propagated by division, cutting or seed.
  • They don’t produce seed, so they have a very low invasive potential.
  • They grow quickly, acting as pioneer species, and changing the micro-climate of the area around them.
  • They are easy to ‘chop and drop’ because they are herbaceous.
  • They hold their leaves throughout the dry season which help shade the soil during the hottest months of the year.
  • Ability to produce volumes of green matter and recover quickly from pruning, even benefiting from pruning.
  • I also like ours to be capable of feeding our livestock so they are also a back-up for feed supply.


Letting Go

I realize there’s something incredibly honest about trees in winter, how they’re experts at letting things go.
— Jeffrey McDaniel

I found it quite liberating traveling around the world with just a back pack.

But there were many times when even that was pushed to the limit and my pack was heavy enough to become a nuisance. Charity stores, second hand shops and lost property boxes assisted with the natural cycling of items. As some things were moved on, others would replace them. Or as more cherished items came along, others were passed on to make room. I found an acoustic guitar in a fishing tackle shop in the old town in Edinburgh and it was a travel companion for a while through the UK and France. At times it was troublesome to carry around. Spending time between traveling, working and being semi-sedentary however, it was a great companion. I still regard it as a favourite item. As an instrument it is a delight. It is also a bit unique in that the bridge can be removed easily. And it also has some great stories to share that I cherish.

petitparadis guitar

Let go, or be dragged.

—  Unknown

Returning home was also an event of reuniting with all my Other Stuff that had been stored for a couple of years. This has since been whittled down significantly and I have found that even my favourite hobbies have stood the test of time because they take up little room. Especially nowadays with digital storage. The once exception being my artwork, though I have come to favour more and more, doing work on watercolour paper rather than ‘bulky’ canvases.

Our seed collection is the only other collection we really have and that will take up just a small portion of our house once we have our utility room set up. Our collection of plants and trees will be planted in the garden.

The current irony is that for the first time we are actually moving into a larger house and shedding more of our collective stuff. Clothes are not an issue for me as I have reduced them significantly over the last few years – and then more again in the last 12 months. More clothes keep coming from the Universe, but I am usually quick to pass them on if they are not suitable. Or keep them for  a while and discard others by various means.

Items of Stuff that might not be complete or are of no immediate use have found themselves allocated to various boxes and taken to either a second hand store or the Tip Shop where they will more than likely be discovered for their Inherent & Intrinsic Usefulness.

Letting go is not getting rid of memories. Memories will stay, they always do. Letting go is making sure that the pain associated with the memories goes away.
— Arti Honrao

We have been inundated with kids artwork. It is amazing and delightful and is incredible to watch the changes in perception and ability over even a short space of time. My wife will, from time to time, point out a deeper and more cognitive explanation as to what is going on behind the artwork as our boys develop. The writing is on the wall though. Potentially boxes and boxes of artwork lie ahead of us in the future, so I photograph them and the very finest of the bunch get preserved for Periodic Moments of Appreciation. Or, for framing so that we can enjoy them in our living space. This all occurs of course once they have been removed from their Prestigious And Rightful Place Of First Accolades – the kitchen fridge.

Or cupboard.

Or wall.

Or pantry.

Digitise. . . . Wonderful.

There’s an important difference between giving up and letting go.
–Jessica Hatchigan

The cycling continues as we clear stuff out, but there is a ratio to it at the moment. Lots of Stuff Out – A Little Back. We visited a Tip Shop with the Little Fellas. They wanted a handful of toys, but with some explaining we managed to leave the toys there and bring only two pieces of clothing which had gradually risen to new heights on the priority purchases list over the past few weeks as summer approaches. Shorts and jeans.

Timber Floors @ Tillellan

petitparadis natural wood floor finishes LIVOS oils

We are thrilled with the product we have used on the floor boards at Tillellan. It is just what we were after and has proven to be better than expected. After much research and hunting we settled on purchasing a natural oil sealer from Livos Australia.

We were getting pretty tired of hearing ‘Polyurethane this’ and ‘Polyurethane that’. We knew enough to know we were going to be uncompromising on this one. Especially as were wanting to apply the finish ourselves.

There was no headaches from the application. And if there was going to be headaches I would have got them! No nasty fumes, just a pleasant blend of linseed, orange and rosemary with a little beeswax scent as well. When applied according to the instructions the finish cures dry and is not the least bit tacky – which was one of our main concerns. A call to the head office in Victoria put us right on this.

Livos floor finishes have been used successfully in commercial areas such as gyms. This put us at ease, knowing that the odds of the floor withstanding the punishment dealt out by a growing family and Gran’s walker, were suddenly much better.

petitparadis natural floors

The photo on the left is the newly sanded, raw timber. This part of the house was done with new floorboards, but the original floorboards and new both took on an incredibly warm glow when the oil and wax sealer was applied.

The floorboards in the picture below are some of the existing floorboards from what was originally the formal dining room. They had been hiding under an oiled mat which we were not able to salvage and which I am not so sorry about anymore. What a joy to look at these.

petitparadis floor finishes.png

Further Reading

Hazards of Polyurethane Floor Finish

Real Life Experiences

Off Gassing

Non-Toxic Floor Finishes

Livos Australian Stockists