174. Our Small Urban Farm blog | Linda Simpson | Queensland, Australia

Linda and Michael Simpson

Linda Simpson blogs about her gardening experiences in Queensland, Australia with her husband Michael on their Small Urban Farm.


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Tell us a little about yourself.

I grew up, Michael and I both grew up in New Zealand, it’s a volcanic island, with New Zealand is a beautiful volcanic island and my experiences  there with gardening everything just grows, that was the beginning of a

continent is harder for minerals,

it’s sandy,

that low bushy

just step back

it’s such a flat expanse, coming up to the coast on the eastern coastline

the actual trees that grow here

before the suburb got to be here

this used to be a place here

fished 200 years ago

trees are all

some of the gum trees would

not a lot to grow what we call vegetables

once you start to travel

when you stay in one place it’s

it’s easier to move again

tourist parks

rv parks and managing

expanded our knowledge of area

came home

Our Small Urban Farm

Tell me about your first gardening experience?

I was, absolutely I have a memory,

cause I was little

I was one of those kids that was very active

annoyed dad more then anything

there was always a vegetable garden

there wasn’t a lot of money and that sustained us

seeing how he did it

he got rid of the earwigs by laying down a tube and then dad poured boiling water down it… that was a way to do it without


they wouldn’t understand the term

we don’t need that organic stuff

where they live

it’s like a crater the earth is gorgeous

go to a chicken farm, collect the manure

you just did that

it was not a big term

How did you learn how to garden organically?

Studying and mistakes I remember our garden, we had a garden further then we lived

temperate and subtropical climate

in an area called the bay of plenty big surfing

gardening and beach and surf and stuff

we grew carrots in the same place twice

we ended up with long carrots

it’s pretty quick

there were already compost bins there

Our Small Urban Farm Bird Bath

I love learning

never been the go to a place

I love accumulating knowledge

I hold onto what I want to

after we

the general knowledge

when we came back to this property with

lovely safe garden space

we did a permaculture design course

it was just so expansive in it’s knowledge

just blew it out

jefff lawton

spearheaded permaculture here

for stories

just amazing

have used that and shared that knowledge so much

I learned

If you’re flying from

how new zealand on the map

it would have fallen off of Australia if you are looking

an hour’s

3 1/2 hours flying

it’s not

don’t tell the NZ’s

quick flight

I don’t know it in

Distance across Australia is huge

New Zealand the growing climate

the mangos to start their new growth

pink long leaf

rain forest




loses its leaves to give you it’s flowers…

Our Small Urban Farm

Tell us about something that grew well this year.

We have a favorite thing. it does well, because it is a weed… 2 gardens of sweet potatoes

hot winter

we had a few failures which is a bit depressing

we grow your summer



sweet potatoes were awesome

tomoates just made a jungle

smaller ones

tiny salad ones next level up which is plum size

so productive

dried quite a few

roasted froze




and sweet potato

mash that together

Is there something you would do different next year or want to try/new?

I was looking at

we always miss the planting of the garlic season

I want to be on board for that and put some garlic in

meant to have a rainy season

running late

then if it flows on

doesn’t get the cold growing period

gonna try onions again

big red salad onions

we grew them…. didn’t expect them to grow so well. red onions

were called welsh bunching

definite for this year….

re j

grow things in our climate

one of our most disappointing

queensman fruit fly

it gets to your fruit and vegetables



lays the baby in the when the fruit is young

and is it gets

quite like the coast

organic attractant for the male


something eaten

the girls are actually laying unfertilized eggs, then when i pull in the zucchini, cucumber, the baby happens caterpillar happens, I love critters. they



go to the attractants

made them out of the normal hanging fly

they like to come in the sides

local firm

their mission to improve the soil

when we were first doing it… four on  a property of probably 570 square meters,small

11 in the morning

counted 160s little flies


way better then that now

in a place where these things like laying in the lemons

there will always be these things…

we add a tiny bit of hand soap

that means them drown quicker

we’re still killing being

Worm Farm

Worm farm! Back to our permaculture design course. Geoff taught us to use a regular bath,

my gorgeous Michael is really clever, he set the bath up about 2 foot off the ground, layer it with things the compost worms like to eat,


and paper


bath drains though the normal plug hole,

the bucket gets put onto the garden

because in the beginning there’s just water draining through whatever you put in

one side is ready

the actual worm compost

they’re feeding in

way more then a little worm tower

the side that’s ready

when I water it each day

it’s so simple system

availability of the worm compost

making soil on our little block…

as an aside to what we are talking about

poems and

kids and critters

when you’re dealing with the children

worms have communities

little compost worms

if you put an avacado shell into the compost the worms will generate a hole in it…

put a small plastic funnel in it…they will gather… no one wrote about it

they really do like places to gather…


we’ve been looking after a

australian parrot

cleaning out Roxies cage

we have newspaper or fruit that I’ve given her

wrap it up and put it in the


Tell me about something that didn’t work so well this season.

Our season, of winter, I mentioned it a little bit

was not cold enough to grow what we wanted to grow

cabbages take too long to grow

this type of climate has more borrowing bugs

we like to grow organically

we like to

early cauliflowers

that was awesome

the broccoli and kale

usually grows

it was too hot!

Too Hot

some days that were the middle of the day was 24, at night time is high of summer (75) that was sad…. we just ended up leaving the gardens

beans in them just to put nutrients

covered them with mulch

wait until we get a decisive season

when it because more into summer

got the zuccini …

they do, other times

the seed saving idea

people saving seeds

one of the things where we failed


bought corn that I gather

here it is called f1 so it is altered corn

sweeter or something

2nd was good

3rd was ugly

that’s where if you are going to save seed

people who think about it as possible

save heritage seed or organic seed

you can blame yourself for your bad garden

scientifically altered to do something

that happens with quite a lot of the regular growing fruit

papaya growing quite quickly

grows and grows

storebogut one

loads and loads of fruit but they don’t mature

that’s another failure that we have had

stops you want to grow…

Which activity is your least favorite activity to do in the garden.

Well, I don’t really like killing things. I would rather something

we had

zucchini plants,

it came to the end of it s life,

all of the bugs go and lay their babies on it

I hauled the whole plants

with the  hens



hauled them into the run

digging and finding all the caterpillars that had grown

As far as least favorite

the hardest thing

we live close to an environmental park that goes onto a cannal

so any rats that share our property are pretty cute…

swamp rats

not like rat rats…

kind of cute

they in the past they have eaten our sweet potatoes

because they’re rats they do their thing…

we accidentally ended up with 2 cats not that we were looking for companion animals, but a mamma cat that had been dumped and of course had babies…

Our Small Urban Farm Chicken Nook

had her baby in our chook area

now we don’t have any rats because as Calico was growing she was hunting. so now we don’t have any rats…

there’s not one

if there’s something i don’t want to do i do a little and then stop and do a little and stop.

in one of our gardens

it’s got a walk and a cross in the middle

I call it our addres cross

there’s four raised gardens and we laid crushed rocks,

crusher dust

decomposed granite

that little crushed rock. But weeds really love growing in it

til the weeds thoguth huh

new we have to think should we pave it or not… so

weeding a stretch is just so annoying so I do that a little bit at time.

I know how that goes… we have a walkway that was a little out of control

some things got a little bit out of hand IDK how they are ever gonna

I went to this teaching thing yesterday and we played the timing game

I can’t wait to try it… the kids would earn a giggle fest or they lay on the floor and you walk around and if you make them smile they have to get to their seat…

she said those little prizes they will sit for 20 minutes straight for like a 20 second prize..

What is your favorite activity to do in the garden.

It’s not gardening

I like taking photos of the critters that live in my garden and the flowers

I love recording it!

I enjoy at the moment one of my we have e spot I call the folly

we have a breeze

one of Australia’s great spiders is

golden orb spider

it has a golden sheen to it’s web.

she’s sitting in the back

colestem and the groveler are for the birds

she’s growing this enormous web because she’s a tropical spider!

She’s sitting in the back of where we sit in the shade..

taking photos of the lizards, the geckos, all the things that make our garden work…

the butterflies…

I do it everyday, everyday I take photos

I like that too! I like to paint the photo… my mom and I are so different.. my mom likes to paint it right then and there and then it’s done, I like to take the photo and pain and let it dry and paint on it for hours… I can just picture the photos the mixture of charlottes web and australia the colors in the morning…

What is the best gardening advice you have ever received?

It’s a mixture actually

I enjoy people and I enjoy listening and learning…. a mixture… there’s no one thing…

most impactful moment was doing the permaculture design course with geoff Lawton

that brought together everything we’d done before and

that maybe

chatting to people who garden

I love learning  from people who have done it…

A lot of my guests have said the best advice comes from talking to people who have done it… I hear so many people say people are so in to our phones they lost the ability to communicate I think it’s no we’ve met people who are like us and share our interests and passions not just talking to anyone just cause they happen to be sitting next to you… And I also think conferences are big… people are connecting more through conferences… even in Paris last year I went to an agriculture conference the guys in my building warned me that I’d been spoiled in Paris everyone speaks English but just causee the conference was in Paris none could understand me…

A favorite tool that you like to use? If you had to move and could only take one tool with you what would it be.

My hands

I don’t always use a tool

I put gloves on now that we do have cats

I’ve had other guests say my hands…


when Michael goest to dig sweet potatoes

I don’t I use my fingers…

I will trowel down

And use my fingers to get the whole potatoes out

even when I’m weeding it will be my fingers until I think the weed’s too deep

I think that’s sort of a shout out to organic gardening… a lot of people can’t imagine, but in raised beds your soil is so easy and  you can dig with your hands…

A favorite recipe you like to cook from the garden?

We really love bar-b-qued vegetables

One of my favorites is to  make a mash like sweet potato and pumpkin.


right now we have

leboanese eggplants

we just finished the zucchini

and beans

don’t grow red peppers

all goes onto the bar-b-q

I eat vegetarian but if if he wants to eat critter he has to put it on himself

everything just goes on


I might add some mushrooms

My sad moments here you really need an air conditioned cellar, it’s just too hot for them…

everything goes

truffle oil


That does sound yummy! The other day mike wa like I have a great project for you you can grow the mushrooms it’s like no work… and I was like no… that’s not a job for me…

I might like it if I try it…. I kind of have a weird cleaning thing… mushrooms are getting so expensive in the store and I do love mushrooms.

we get in the spring

wild mushrooms called morels around here..

mushrooms for a regular container is like $2.50 they were on sale for 2 for $5. just white button mushrooms seemed to much I think $1.50 is what they should cost at the most…

A favorite internet resource?

I do, I read, Geoff actually puts out a Friday, 5 things that he’s found or people have sent to him he thinks are worth sharing

internet tarot and you pick out what you want

If I want to learn… I just do a search

find out if it pertains to you…

that’s show you learn

even with the gardening site

facebook groups that are organic based…

very frivolous… nothing organized…

It’s true there’s such a wealth of info…

some days I’ll be like I m gonna check out instagram other days I’ll be like I’m gonna get on pinterest…

A favorite reading material-book, mag, blog/website etc you can recommend?

The easy answer is No, I’m a reader, I read loads of stuff

if there was one thing I refer back to there’s a lady here who was probably a little into the sustain yourself because the earth is going to get scary…

But her knowledge… she dies last year


amazing herb book

loads of different info

health info on what an herb can offer you

I do complimentary healing so for me that would be just knowing I could grow herbs that I could value add is something!


What herbs are you growing now?

where to start

I’l start on the left

  • lemon grass
  • comfrey
  • lemon verbena is not an herb but it’s lovely
  • oregano
  • thyme
  • coriander
  • savory called something savory with an M word that I got, it’s great
  • spreads itself is a good ground cover
  • olive herb, when you put it in makes things taste like olive… IDK but it’s happy
  • parsley when it wants to… it’s just about dead now
  • mint, peppermint
  • rosemary
  • lavendar

6 meters  to the front of our boundary. I’ve decided Im not going to be the person who annoys the council… our council doesn’t like you growing on the streets… our front area is our porch…

herbs that you would like out there

caffolime I use it like an herb

curry tree

we have a lot on this little plot.

Sounds delightful!

If you have a business to you have any advice for our listeners about how to sell extra produce or get started in the industry?

My background is in marketing so I’m always thinking about that…

if somebody wants to sell something you have to do it because you love to grow it,

to me that works.

Organic Market

If you go to the organic market…

the man comest time mind who sells organic strawberries he’s just so enthusiastic about what he grows…

the lady who sells her mushrooms she just knows all about them

If you are going to sell something it needs to be what you are passionate about

We potted up some vanilla plants

got some vanilla

I’l grow some and see if I can

I did 5

they are all taken

vanilla loved my loving and it grew!

Now I can … that’s the thing about anything you do anything if you love it and it grows

if you do it just for money then I just don’t see the success in that

it has to be love and money!


Our Small Urban Farm Harvest

Final question-

if there was one change you would like to see to create a greener world what would it be? For example is there a charity or organization your passionate about or a project you would like to see put into action. What do you feel is the most crucial issue facing our planet in regards to the environment either in your local area or on a national or global scale?

I believe that our groundswell of knowledge us… doing our gardens at home… being happy within ourselves…

purpertrating good options and good activities

that groundswell is the magic

That to me is what will change things… without going too big

it was Margaret Meade who said that

change will change will come from one person making the difference…. that’s what we have to do at home

Whenever somebody comes to our place to pick up something and they see the garden, their eyes light up and they want to know about it… they may never grow a garden but they have been inspired in one small too…

I think so too, I hear so many people these days so depressed and complaining and I’m like you know what I have this podcast and I talk to the most amazing earth caring for people full of energy and great millennials and I’m like I don’t want to hear it. I like the people who are like we’re gonna change this world! Just like you’re one of my amazing listeners! You’re right your little garden in your urban area and they walk by and say mmm is smells so good I wish I had a garden like that?!!

Do you have an inspiration tip or quote to help motivate our listeners to reach into that dirt and start their own garden?

I just believe really strongly that something created or done with joy is going to be better for everything. if someone wants to start a garden don’t make it hard,

give the children basil seeds…

if you make it hard it will become another negative tick in your brain!

I always move to what I want to do with joy

it doesn’t mean don’t do hard things

if you chose to do something do it joyfully

then it makes a difference

to your heart and how you do things…

that’s how I do it and it works well!

How do we connect with you?

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About the author, Jackie Marie

I'm an artist and educator. I live at the "Organic Oasis" with my husband Mike where we practice earth friendly techniques in our garden nestled in the mountains of Montana.

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