House Sitting Week 3


I moved from the city to the country, from cool climate to the baking plains. There are some old habits that need to change.

Rising at five, or thereabouts, is more essential than ever. Unfortunately, immediately jumping online is now a mistake. The cool of the morning should not be wasted on something I can do when heat rules the day.

I could take a leaf out of my mother’s book. First thing, most days, she is outside working in the garden.

During this period of house sitting, one of the tasks I’d set for myself was to clear out the overgrown, gone-to-seed vegetables and set up something productive. To either his credit or misfortune, my brother-in-law said “do whatever you want” when showing me around the backyard. It will hopefully be a way of saying thank you.

So, time to change an old habit; time to get outside first thing.

Housing sitting rules

Rule No 1 of house sitting is to return the house as you found it. The role of the house sitter is to keep the animals alive, the garden alive (if there is one) and the burglars at bay. Rule No 2 is to leave everything cleaner than you found it, just in case the owners’ don’t remember how they left it.

The first rule is being stretched to breaking point with my garden make-over. The rule is not quite broken, because vegetable gardens do not remain static while the owners are away. They have this tendency to keep growing.

Perhaps there is a Rule No 1A – an exception to the rule, if you will – so house sitters can take into account the immediate needs of a productive garden.

Garden make-over

It’s not that these owners are bad gardeners. I’ve seen this patch beautifully productive in the past. Instead, they knew they were going on a long holiday and that the dog loves to dig. Eventually, they will build a fence to keep him out. In the meantime, I’m being very brave (or foolish) to give it a go.

The dog was happy to help. Here he is, doing his bit to sort my stash of shade cloth into different sizes. We’re expecting a very hot summer.



Everything was falling into place. I cleared out the overgrown foliage; reclaimed one of the two tomato plants; ignored the corn; dug in some compost; set up the movable/removable shade; planted the seedlings; mulched.

There was just one small hiccup. With no silverbeet seedlings at the nurseries, and with 8 weeks before the seeds grow into something harvestable, I guess I’m buying the birds their silverbeet for the next 2 months! Opps.

The positive results, if I can manage the heat and the dog, will be crops of peas, beans, sweet potato, tomatoes and baby squash.

And the dog walking saga …

We are best buddies until we turn for home. Then he slows right down, and even walks behind me at times.

Duke has the post-walk blues. This is Duke just after a walk, sitting mournfully beside the harness. I believe the expression is one of disappointment – “Really?! not long enough.”


So sorry, darling. If it was not summer, I promise would still be out there!





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