Book Review – A Year of Practiculture, Rohan Anderson


Book Review: A Year of Practiculture by Rohan Anderson

There is nothing like the passing of a close loved one to sharpen your focus on living a simple life.

My husband’s father passed two weeks ago and we are still coming to terms with it all.

At the same time, I’ve been doing some contract work and while the work is meaningful, it’s challenging and I don’t have the internal resources to do that job well and continue to live simply.

So – I’ll be finishing up work in six weeks before we head overseas and I’ll head into another stage of simple life re-evaluation. Life is too short. Loved ones need to be loved. Life is to be lived and not endured.

So as a little break from my low waste journey, I thought I’d review a book that makes me happy. A Year of Practiculture by Rohan Anderson is just that book. It’s so many things! It’s a:

  1. Biography of one man’s journey from office worker to self-sufficient simple lifer. It’s a great story of how you can prioritise your health and have a meaningful, nearly self-sufficient life.
  2. Funny book. It’s hilarious. If you have a teenage boy sense of humour like I do, you’ll be chuckling the whole way through this book.
  3. Recipe book. It’s got 100 no-fuss recipes from Rohan, his garden and things he hunts. AND THE RECIPES ARE DELICIOUS. Fancy some lamb-neck with summer broad beans anyone? It’s a wonderful seasonal recipe book that you can use as your garden produces fresh, bountiful crops.
  4. Practical how-to in the garden book, written especially for Australian conditions. I love the way he makes mistakes and records them so we can learn from them. Like investing too much of the garden bed in a crop that didn’t produce (corn) and the precise calculations you need to make when surviving off the land.

I have a major confession. I am only half way through the book. I made my kids buy it for me for Christmas, and I greedily started zooming through the pages, sneaking little moments to read a little bit more. But then I realised because this book gives me such pleasure, I will eek it out through the seasons. I read Spring; Summer has been read, recipes tried and now I will wait until Autumn to dive in again to my favourite book. In the meantime I might re-read Spring and Summer again. Thanks Rohan for producing amazing material and inspiring us to grow our own, and live a simple life.

Home grown cauliflowers can make you squeal….

It’s been awhile since I have squealed with delight. I’ve got to say I haven’t squealed much at home or work…..

Well today I did. I planted brassicas a few months ago. We have been enjoying the bountiful broccoli, but there were no cauliflowers to be seen. Until…. Today! Gorgeous little crisp heads of cauliflower. Yippee!


Today’s post is in photos. I am increasing our vegetable production. I purchased three Vegrug planters from Costco recently and my kind husband has put them together. Today we cleared the area, mulched sticks and trees, dug out stumps and put in the watering system. Tomorrow is soil, and clearing the rest of the back yard.

So the before shots – you might say it has been neglected over winter:

Before bottom half Before top halfBefore close up top half

And some where-we-got-to-today shots, with a very patient husband installing the dripper system:

 David installing dripper system

vegtrug half full bottom after

Mad about vegies… summer edition

summer new vegie patchsummer new vegie patch 2autumn pickings 2015

Simple food. There is nothing simpler than going out to the back garden and picking your own veggies from the garden, fresh from the soil and the sun.

I’m not a gardener. Both David and I couldn’t care less about flowers and shrubs and we do the gardening around the yard because we are perfectionists, and not because we like it. I usually put my headphones on VERY LOUDLY and drown out the experience of being dirty, hot and sweaty and constantly feeling like some bug or spider is crawling on me.

So it’s unusual that I have decided to grow vegies. I can’t describe it, but I am currently obsessed with it. It started last spring when I was looking for a new, productive hobby to relieve work stress.

We already had two planters our lovely previous gardening owners had established, so really I just had to dig in some compost and get to planting. This summer, I successfully grew:

  • Zucchinis (although not enough to freeze excess)
  • Lettuce
  • Tomatoes
  • Basil
  • About three capsicums
  • One pumpkin (giggle)
  • Spring onions, and learned the trick of cutting them just above the soil so that they regrow
  • Spinach
  • About 10 snow peas.

I’m getting better at it. I’ve discovered seasol and also a guide to planting in Canberra – getting the most accurate advice about your climate and conditions can make all the difference!

I became so vegie mad that on Christmas Day, after the kids went back to their other parents in the afternoon, David and I built two more vegie boxes, 5m x 2m.

This autumn, I’ve planted:

  • Artichokes
  • Bok choy
  • Beetroot (heaps)
  • Carrots
  • Beans
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Cauliflower
  • More lettuce
  • Peas

Cabbage moth is a struggle and I’ve resorted to some nasty pesticide – not ideal but they were out of control.

I love my little backyard oasis. And chatting to my neighbour about her new vegie garden too, and sharing the delights of what we produce in abundance.  It’s really a cool thing to do – to watch a seed turn to a seedling, grow and mature into vegies and then produce food with it.  I find this whole experience the most mindful and satisfying thing I can do right now , and my stress levels have reduced inversely with my increased vegetable consumption!

And I don’t mind if the creepy crawlies find their way inside my tracksuit pants… well, perhaps a little bit….