Given the crazy price of property in Australia right now, we're stuck with renting for the foreseeable future (we refuse to pay 2-3 times the rent simply to own the same place). Of course one of the downsides to renting is that it's harder to set up for the sort of timescales demanded by a proper permaculture arrangement. Therefore, we have to compromise in a few areas. What we had when we moved in mid-2011: "standard" suburban house block of about 700-800sqm (guess) with a 3br house and 6x6m shed Established (but neglected) fruit trees (fig, apricot, nectarine and manderin). Overgrown lawn thick with runner grass (about 5-6 inches thick in places) Sheets of black plastic under and within the runner grass where some genius appeared to have thought it would keep the weeds/grass away from the fruit trees. Rainwater tank collecting from the shed (leaking at the base so unusable) Permission to create a vege patch where there previously appeared to have been one (an area containing 3 of the 4 fruit trees) Assurance that the owners had owned the place for years and had no intention of ever moving in or selling up (so we could rent it practically forever if we want). What we brought with us: two worm farms (regular commercial ones for kitchen scraps) a few basic garden tools bad experiences trying to grow veges at the last place in almost continuous shadow enthusiasm for growing what we eat When I first stuck a spade into the ground to turn over the sod (and kill the grass, I ran into fruit tree roots and realised that was not going to work for us so a raised bed was the only option. What we did first off: Drop the worm farms around the back of the shed next to the rainwater tank where they are in shade almost all day. Generously interpreted the bounds of the old vege patch to give an area of about 65sqm Removed the concrete pavers and sleepers marking the old boundary (the sleepers found a new home and the pavers make great stepping stones in the current garden) Buy old railway sleepers to border the garden (on edge) Buy lengths of steel angle to hold the sleepers in place Dig/rip out all the *$_#%* black plastic among the runner grass (not a fun job) Collect cardboard boxes and newspapers to smother the existing grass in the garden area. Collect trailer loads of (free) hay from the missus' work. Layer about 2-3" of hay over the overlapping cardboard. Layer a trailer load of old horse manure over the hay for about 1/3 the total area. Too many weed seeds in that lot so didn't go back for more. Buy in 3 cubic metres of "garden soil" to start filling the volume. Big mistake - it was nothing more than dirty sand that killed everything we put in it. Spread the "garden soil" over the full area and hope that it would be sufficiently diluted by the remaining soil to avoid damaging anything else. Try to prune the fruit trees into some semblance of order without killing them. These initial actions took a few months around our day jobs so we pretty much missed the spring planting season. The missus had some success with herbs in pots but not much went into the ground. We tried garlic first but the rubbish "garden soil" killed the lot. Once I scored a few trailer loads of real soil (some from the building site next door, some from needdirt.com.au) things started moving along much more nicely. We got some tomatoes, capsicum, basil and eggplant into about 15sq.m (all that was usable at the time). We also planted strawberries into "planter tubes" where they hang out the side. Another waste of time and money as they need lots of water and fertiliser just to keep going just because there are so many plants feeding from such a small soil volume. I just got around to planting them in the ground last week. Turned out that I put too many plants into too small an area and they needed a lot of water over summer just to stay alive. Evaporation wasn't the problem (much mulch was being used), they just drank a lot. I've planted everything more sparsely this time around. The plan was always to gradually increase the usable area as I had the time to find and collect more soil then put it in the garden (using a wheelbarrow to take it up the slope from front year to back yard takes some serious time and energy). This slower pace also allowed me to mix is trays of worm farm castings as I went. It also allowed for some learning and application of lessons along the way. I have about 20-30% left to fill and will probably just use that space to run pumpkin and gem squash vines. It's currently full of pine needle/cone mulch (delivered by a friend looking to offload it) so some time for that to break down will be good. I know permaculture is more about the perennials than annuals but we started with what we know. So far the only perennials that we have put in are rhubarb and strawberries. We've also got a lime tree and lemon tree sitting in large pots waiting for me to get around to asking the landlord for permission to put them in the ground (outside the garden area). On the upside, we are making great use of self-seeding with pumpkins and tomatoes already coming around for a second time without us planting them :clap: The plan is also to ask the landlord to either fix/replace the rainwater tank or get rid of it so we can put in something of our own. They've ignored previous requests to fix it. Having all that water run away over winter before we water the garden from the mains system in summer is sheer lunacy. Swales look interesting but I don't know enough to build one and I suspect that they wouldn't work so well for such a small land area. Happy to be corrected on that one. As you can see, we're very much beginners at this so hoping to learn a lot as fast as possible through the forums.