How We Built A No Dig Veggie Garden That Never Needs Watering

We’re seriously short on time.  So when we wanted to start our veggie garden, we knew it had to be fuss free and something that wouldn’t drain our time each day.

What we’ve managed to create is a veggie garden that didn’t require any digging and we don’t have to water ever!!  This is where we get most of our leafy greens and fresh herbs from which give us year round fresh produce.


Get The Most Out Of Your Waste

When we hooked up our plumbing here, we decided to make the most of our grey water.  Our grey water is the waste water from our shower, bath, laundry tub and washing machine.  The kitchen sink and toilet are considered black water and should always been treated properly through a waste management system.

If you’re going to use your grey water, you need to make sure you’re putting the right things down the drain, especially if you’re going to grow food from it.  No one wants to be eating a lettuce that’s been watered with bleach right!

I swear by Natures Organics for all our home and personal care.  They legit have everything you could need from floor cleaner to face cleaner.  They’ve been around since the 50’s, their line is specifically designed to be grey water friendly, they’re Australian owned and they give a shit about our planet.  I find the biggest issue with eco friendly products is the price point can be a little steep, Natures Organics is more than reasonable, if not the cheapest option most of the time.

Anway, we ran our grey water out from the bathroom with some PVC pipe until we reached the start of our slope.  We then attached a slotted pipe so the water could slowly soak out of the pipe and into the garden.  We made sure the slotted pipe ran slightly down hill and secured it with a few good rocks.  At the end of the pipe, we added a cap so that any water that wasn’t absorbed the first time through, would back up and soak out.

Find Your Local Mulch Dealer

Did you know some local dumps have free or really cheap mulch?  Our local lets us take 1 free ute load of mulch each day.  Crazy right?

The free mulch can have some rubbish in it which takes a bit of time to pick out.  The other option is a finer ground mulch for about $20 a ute load.  Either way, it’s a cheap deal.  This stuff isn’t the best quality of course but to build up your base and get your veggies in the ground, it’s all that’s needed.

We started by bringing home a ute load every time Chris had an early finish at work and started burying the slotted pipe, making sure it was at the top edge of the garden so the water could run down through the plants below.  From memory, we used about 4 ute loads to build a garden bed that’s about 8 metres long and 1 metre wide.  We made sure we marked where the pipe runs incase we ever need to get to it in the future.

Over time the growing of plants, constant watering and breaking down scraps will only improve the mulch over time.

Don’t Buy Your Seedlings From Big Name Places

Sure, it’s convenient to hit up your local Bunnings for some veggie seedlings but did you know you can get insane bargains from your local markets?  Yandina Markets for example has a stall that sells 30 seedlings for $15!!!!  That’s 50 cents each!!!! 

Buying from your local markets also ensures that what you’re buying will grow well in your climate.  The bigger guys can ship their seedlings around between stores so you never can be too sure where they’ve spent the last few months of their lives and what climate they’ve adjusted to.  Your local market stall holder on the other hand is going to be a local to your region so you have a much better chance of your little sprouters loving their new home in your veggie garden.

Close Your Eyes & Dig A Hole

Okay not literally, that would probably be dangerous but don’t be too careful with what you plant where.  We spread our seedlings out as much as we can to give everything a better chance at thriving.

By scattering and planting at random, you’re not only slowing down the rate that bugs and disease can spread from plant-to-plant, but you’ll soon see where each variety does best over the season.  I’ve noticed for instance that our cauliflower doesn’t like being on the high side of the garden, and does much better on the lower side and our shallots reach mamoth sizes towards the end of the garden instead of at the start of it.

So mix it up, play around and see what does well where.  It will be pretty obvious pretty soon how everything’s performing and where it should be planted next time so make sure you take note.  Start a little black book for you to look back on next season.  This will eliminate your need for trial and error every seasonn.

Let Some Stuff Go To Seed

We have a shit load of lemon basil and lettuce growing in our garden because we just keep letting it go to seed.  This is honestly the easiest way to create an abundant veggie garden with heaps of variety.  It also saves you having to go and buy new seedlings each season.

Some of it we pull out, pick the seeds off to put in storage and feed the rest of the plant to the chooks.  Our seed drawer now has a nice little stash of rosella, basil, pumpkin, carriander, dill, capsicum and god knows what else.

Some of it we will shake into the garden to keep them going.  The garden at the moment has tatsoi, dill, broccoli, cauliflower and shallots going to seed which we plan on leaving to do their thing and sprout even more.

We’ve done so well out of our garden these past few months and it’s so awesome being able to step out and pick fresh ingredients for our meals. Chris’s favourite salad consists of random leaves he picks and tosses in olive oil.

We’ve had veggie gardens in the past but they just never seem to do that well when they need to be watered by hand.  This is hands down the easiest and most rewarding way we’ve ever grown and if you’re in the position to do so, give it a shot for yourselves and let us know how you go!

Off Grid Plumbing Solutions | Just The Essentials

Our definition of luxury items has been turned upside down in the past three weeks.  We now consider luxuries as running water and a flushing toilet without trips to town with buckets, water jugs and eskies.

This weekend was full on, with three massive days put in my our awesome family, yet again!  We managed to get all the plumbing side of things sorted this weekend which means running water and a flushing toilet!


Black water is any run off from the toilet and kitchen sink.  As you can imagine, this water is really shitty and you definitely don’t want it contaminating your property.

For our black water, we had a basic septic system installed which treats the waste right then and there without any interference from us.

Basically, you have a 2000L plastic tank / chamber buried in the ground, near to where your black water will run off from.  This tank has an inlet (where the waste enters the chamber) and an outlet (where the water exits the chamber) which sits higher than your inlet.

The ‘sludge’ is heavier than water, so it floats to the bottom and the water that carries the waste into the chamber sits above this.  

The ‘scum’ that’s produced, floats to create a hard crust that leaves the chamber airtight so a bacterial process can begin to break down the ‘sludge’ at the bottom.

The water isn’t as bad as you would think so it’s drained off through a series of ‘seepage trenches’ which are deep trenches, filled with gravel, with a slotted pipe running through the middle.  Our system also has matting in between the gravel and dirt to prevent that pipe being clogged.  The idea is that the water slowly seeps out, with any sneaky solids beings caught in the gravel, and the water is filtered through the ground.

Every now and then, the tank may need to pumped clean (imagine that for a job) if you have a lot of people in the house or if your grey water is also running into the system.

We’ve had to be careful where we run our seepage trenches though, because we plan on growing on both sides of the hill.  We decided to place ours on the rear hill where we plan on growing trees as opposed to vegetables which would be much more likely to absorb that water directly into the parts of the plant we eat.

Septic tank systems sound gross yes, but they’re perfectly safe if they’re installed correctly so always make sure you get a plumber to advise and install the best system for you.


Grey water is much cleaner than the putrid black water we’ve just talked about so it can be used for irrigation – depending on your local council regulations of course.

In our system, water from our washing machine, bathroom sink and shower / bath is considered grey water and it all runs into a buried 100mm PVC pipe which then pokes out at the top of the hill, where it connects with clotted agriculture pipe.

This ‘ag pipe’ then runs across the hill under layers of mulch to irrigate what will soon be our vegetable patch.

Grey water irrigation is a great way to increase your water supply by using what would otherwise be waste but you do have to be careful about what you put down there.  We take special care with what shampoo, conditioner, body wash, laundry liquid, fabric softener and even cleaning products we use to make sure we’re avoiding any nasties that we don’t want near our food.

Again, make sure you check with your local council about what you can and can’t do with grey water!


We went with a 5000 gallon galvanized water tank for the collection of our rain water off the shed roof.  There’s a few different options when it comes to tanks and on this one, we went with the most visually pleasing to us.  We ordered through Foley’s Water Tanks who have made their products in Woombye since the 70’s so we were able to specify exactly where we wanted the inlet and outlet.

The set up for the water tank was pretty simple.  We built a treated pine square box that was 100mm bigger than the diameter of the tank which was secured with metal pegs driven into the soil.  This was then filled with small gravel that was raked level to give our tank a solid and sharp-rock-free base to rest on.

You want to make sure you get this part right because once that tank is full, it’s going to weigh a shit load!

We used treated timber to frame up the footprint for our water tank. We then filled this with gravel before out water tank was placed on top.

We drove metal rods into the treated timber framing to hold it in place.

The guys who delivered our tank were pro’s at positioning this thing but they basically laid sleepers on the gravel to act as a track and with four blokes, they were able to position the tank perfectly.

With the tanks in place, we had to run the down pipes which collect the rain water off the shed roof into the new tank.  This was a pretty simple task that only took a couple of hours.

We decided to leave all four down pipes isolated instead of connecting them into one pipe that would run into the water tank inlet.  We figured by doing this, there is less room to loose valuable rain water collection if a pipe becomes blocked or damaged.  With a roof of our size, we were also worried that during our torrential summer storms that the pipe won’t allow the water to enter the tank quick enough and may over-flow the gutters.  It may not be the neatest of jobs but at least we have four times more chance of collecting every last drop.

Always make sure you have a water delivery booked for a couple of hours after your tank delivery – they have been known to fly away and be damaged in strong winds.


Until we have our off grid solar system connected to run a water pump, we’ll gravity feed straight from the water tank.  Because our water tank is level with the shed, so long as the water level in the tank s higher than the height of the tap we’re using, we can access the water without any pump.  This has worked great for our kitchen sink and even surprisingly the toilet which takes quite a while, but does fill up itself.  Unfortunately, the height of the shower head is way past our water level so we’ll be having boiled water baths and showers in town for a little while longer.


The overflow for our water tank will be directed into a small 1000L tank that Chris uses to water his fruit trees at the moment.  Without an overflow system, the water pours out the top of the water tank and can seriously damage the footing that the tank sits on.  This over time can cause tanks to tip and dump their water load.  Chris has set this up with some simple 100mm PVC pipe running into the top of his small tank which he then add worm juice to as a liquid fertiliser for his plants.  With a small garden hose on this tank, we can gravity feed the potted trees as well.

Our main water tank has an overflow pipe to fill this small plastic tank used for watering fruit trees.

Our fruit trees loving their sunny position and constant watering from the overflow tank.

Here’s the basics on our water and waste management system.

Off Grid Solar Power | How To Navigate The Confusion

We’re in the middle of trying to decide on who we’ll use for our Off Grid Solar Power system which will run the shed until the house is built, and then the house once we’re in there.

My Dad is the legend when it comes to finding good connections in a local area so we jumped when he offered to share with us his ‘Off Grid Guru List’.  I started at the top and was impressed.  He called me back in the middle of doing the school pick up, didn’t treat me like a silly house wife talking about things I have no idea about and understood that we are more than prepared to make sacrifices when it comes to luxury appliances in life in order to keep our system costs down.

Anyway, we got the quote from these guys and although it was more than we were prepared for, it didn’t wipe out our build money and we could see that it would be worth it in the long run.  After a couple of days, we decided to do the responsible thing and shop around a bit, we started seeing a bit of a pattern in the solar industry so wanted to share the tips and tricks we’ve learned along the way.

Know What You  Want

We created a list of needs and wants so that if anything on our wants list was going to dramatically affect the price of our system, we could consider how badly we really want it.  We broke it down and provided as much information as we could on our usage of these items.

The Needs:

  • 2 x laptops – one during the day, one usually at night
  • internet modem – all day
  • 2 x phone chargers – at night
  • small TV
  • DVD player with surround sound
  • washing machine
  • vacuum cleaner
  • small fridge with a freezer
  • lights – we plan on using around 40m of LED strip lighting inside and a couple of outdoor lights
  • water pump to supply water to the house

The Wants:

  • pedestal fans or ceiling fans during the peak of summer
  • small blender
  • hair straightener
  • game console
  • a couple of lamps
  • printer – we rarely use it
  • kitchen range hood
  • sewing machine

We emailed this list along with comprehensive information on the property to every solar supplier we could find on The Coast.

Don’t Be Scared Easily

Once the requests for more information or quotes started coming in, so did the fear tactics to make us spend more than double our original quote.  Statements like “You might not want a dishwasher now, but what about later when you’ve got kids?” or “You need an automatic start generator if you don’t want to kill your batteries.” or “We just don’t want to under quote you and have you hate your new way of life.”.

And then there’s the ones who decide what you need and totally disregard what you’ve told them, such as one quote that included:

  • microwave – we kind of don’t believe in them.
  • kettle – what, because boiling water on the stove top is too hard?
  • toaster – umm, what’s wrong with the grill or those camping stove top toaster thingies?
  • clothes dryer – we have literally never owned one of these in our lives, we don’t intend on getting one now.
  • dishwasher – okay yes, this we will miss but what better incentive to not use every dish in the house when cooking!
  • oven – dude, specifically said we will have a gas oven.
  • second fridge – how fucking rich do you think we are?  Our current fridge we bought second hand for $300 6 years ago!!!

So not only did we not even ask for the above, but the daily usage on the items we did ask for are totally wrong based on the information we emailed through.  Thanks for listening dude but maybe it’s time to go back to Solar School?

Just stick to your guns, don’t be scared off the life you want to live and don’t be bullied into spending more money than you’re prepared to.  In saying that, be open to new suggestions or information, chances are you don’t know it all but you’ll know when someone is bullshitting you.

Ask Heaps Of Questions

Seriously, I ask about a million questions and all in email too so I have the responses in writing if I ever need them.  Below are some example questions you should be asking:

  • Are there any low wattage electrical items we could buy to minimise our system requirements?
  • Are we able to upgrade the system in a few years if need be and what is involved in this?
  • What’s your lead time from when we place our order to when our system will be fully functioning?
  • What’s your payment schedule?  Can we put down a deposit and pay the full amount once it’s installed and functioning?
  • What warranty is included on all the parts and the installation?
  • Do you supply the certification we need for the Government Rebate?
  • What happens if we need to upgrade our appliances or electronics?  Will our system support that?
  • How many completely off grid systems have you installed in my area?
  • How long will you need to be onsite for installation?

Trust Your Gut

From the moment we spoke to our supplier, I knew he was someone we could really well with.  Listen to your instincts and don’t go with someone who rubs you up the wrong way or you don’t click with. 

It may sound silly to base such a big decision on something this flaky – but if you enjoy working with them, you’re going to have success.

Check out our Dream Team page to find the details of our supplier!

Heaven Has Been Located | Our New Home

There’s been lots of What The Fuck Moments in our house this past month. After selling our house within a week, finding out the following week that we’re expecting our first child and the terrifying realisation that we were bound to be homeless within a couple of months, in the middle of winter.  I couldn’t tell if my new hobby that consists of clinging to the toilet was the result of morning sickness or complete fucking melt down.

Then along came desperation.  Which as it turns out isn’t just a dreaded state of mind, but the name of my new property alert on where we were prepared to settle for any parcel of land that’s bigger than 2 acres between Caloundra and Gympie within our price range.  We were not optimistic and I was secretly considering trying to get out of the contract on our house.

Australian Farm Gate

Last Tuesday this photo pops up in my inbox of a long dirt driveway with a typical rural Queensland post and rail entrance and big farm gate.  I open the email and my jaw hits the floor.  Presenting itself to me is almost 9 acres of cleared land with two large dams, the long driveway I’ve always wanted and as a massive bonus, a 6 bay shed that is half built in and ready for weekend living while we build.

I text Chris and tell him I’ve found it, he replies with “buy it now” and a few moments later my Dad rings.  Now apparently Dad has been secretly shopping for land for us ever since he found out we were pregnant.  Bless him.  He tells me he’s found our property and we have to buy it – it’s not the one I’ve just found so I ask if he would mind shooting up the coast to have a look.  At this point, I was willing to buy something sight-unseen and just hope for the best.  He calls back literally “yee-haa-ing” and describing it as magnificent with a dam big enough for a jet ski and chimes in with the “buy it now”.  Now my Dad only uses the term “magnificent” when he’s being a rude smart ass so I was skipping with glee at his appraisal.

The following day, Chris and were up before the sun and on the road as day break, heading to this property that could possibly be the one.  Australian Country FarmWe get there as the sun burst over the hill and floods the green pasture in golden morning sun, the morning dew glistening and the cold morning breeze whipping our cheeks.

On the drive to work, I call the agent to ask for a contract.  We want this baby and we want it bad!  With a bit of back and forth, we manage to pretty easily negotiate terms and we score it for less than we expected minutes before we board the plane to Adelaide on the Thursday for the weekend to see my Mum.

We’ve been back twice now to roam around and dream of what our future will look like.  I think that’s how you know it’s the one.  When you’re jumping around your husband in circles, crying in excitement asking “please please can we buy it?”.  I mean sure, that could have been (and probably was) crazy pregnancy hormones but there’s something about it.  There’s an energy that’s clean, pure and infectious that oozes out of this space.

I can picture our house, the views it will have of the entire property and the way the sun will travel throughout the day.

I can picture summers spent diving off the pontoon Chris wants to build on the dams.

I can picture a thriving vegetable garden on the hill in front of the house supplying the kitchen with an abundance.

I can picture the camp ground we’ll create at the front for friends and family to stay, rest and play.

I can picture raising our kids here and giving them that country upbringing that Chris and I had – unplugged, outside and free range.

Settlement is due at the end of July so once we’re settled in, we’ll share some pictures of our beautiful new surrounds and updates on how the transition works out for us.  In the meantime, cross your fingers for us that this deal comes off and we score the lifestyle we never though possible.

Sustainable Living | What It Means To Me

Sustainable Living

Chris and I are pretty shit at keeping secrets.  We agree to not blab too early but our excitement takes over and before we know it, the world knows our business.

So lately, I’ve found myself explaining my reasoning for what I like to call our Lifestyle Change to those I accidentally blab to.  Some people get it straight up and ask no more questions, but others almost seem to want to challenge my beliefs, opinions and 5 years of research.

I could get shitty that I’m being challenged, questioned and keep seeing skeptically raised eyebrows but after a particularly rowdy family dinner last week, while we all sat in the lounge room, the topic was moved to our Lifestyle Change and while at first I was feeling as if I was defending myself, by the end of it I realised that this was re-affirming that what we’re working towards is worth while.

Not everyone will get it.  Not everyone wants to leave their comfort zone and that’s cool by us.  The last thing we want to do is alienate our friends or be that friend preaching to everyone constantly (still working on this BTW).

The main argument I receive is along the lines of “But wouldn’t (whatever they think) be much more eco friendly than (whatever I’ve just said)?”  You know what?  Sometimes the answer is “yeah, it would be more eco friendly to build a rammed earth house using only materials found on our property but you know what dude?  We have a mortgage to pay, we have jobs to work, we like having a roof over our head and we don’t want to spend the next 10 years of our lives building.”

That’s why we don’t use the term eco friendly.  That’s not what we’re about.  Don’t get me wrong – we still care for the Earth but we’re more about sustainability.  For us, this covers so much more than monitoring our outputs and restricting our inputs to what’s absolutely necessary.  It’s not just about environmental sustainability, it’s about emotional sustainability too and finding a balance.  Building a rammed earth home would be wonderful but it wouldn’t make us happy – the building process would be torturous and we wouldn’t end up with a home we love with all our heart.  Modular, minimalist homes have always inspired us and by using shipping containers, we can build our true dream home cheaply, quickly and with minimal impact on the property.

We’re not purists, and we’re okay with that.

We’re searching for satisfaction within our own lives.  If we both didn’t have to work full time, things might be different, we might take more on and rely less on outside sources but for now, we’re doing what we can to find happiness, fulfillment and satisfaction.

We’re just looking for balance.