The last blitz of Summer heralded the first chill of Autumn – and occasional breaks due to showers! This day down in the South-Eastern suburbs saw a grassy, run-down and neglected alley...
...transformed in to a beautiful and productive garden, with a sunken wicking bed, sinuous pathways and edible plants galore!
Let it be said that there isn't a garden too small to be permablitzed. A small group of helpers descended on Matt and Emma's small garden in North Fitzroy, which had been blitzed just over a year ago and needed a few small tweaks.
This is what Kat, a member of the original design team and revisit blitz facilitator had to say:
Revisiting blitzes to evaluate our designs is an important stage in the learning process for hosts, designers and participants. Matt and Em have had a bumper harvest since our blitz a year ago but there's always adjustments to be made. Their major issue was with the sandy, water repellant soil - an unfortunate result of not-very-crash-hot soil mix delivered for their raised beds. After some careful research we used bentonite clay to improve the water and nutrient-holding capacity of their soil, which should mean an even better harvest with far less watering next Summer.
If you thought 10am was an early start on a Sunday – how about 8:30am? This was one day when many blitzers would be happy to get up a bit early; already 28 by 9am, and rising towards a top of 36 meant that a day of hats and sunscreen would be in order!
The first point of call was digging the pond, in an effort to get the picking and shovelling out of the way before the sun became too merciless. I can't be certain, but there may have been a few voices suggesting that perhaps the pond should be redesigned to take up the entirety of the front garden, so as to allow for some post-blitz swimming later in the day... however it may have been, by the time 10am rolled around and the official welcoming began, the pond was already dug and one of the first tasks after the opening circle was to fill it for the first time!
A good-sized crew rotated seamlessly throughout the day, almost as though planned – a couple of dozen blitzers moved through the site, with a maximum of 15 or so on hand at any one time as some of the early-starters were replaced around lunchtime by a fresh eager batch coming in to reinvigorate everyone with excited energy. Well, that and the lunch itself – as always at Permablitzes, a delicious but simple spread was provided by the happy hosts.
The main foci of the rest of the day, once the pond was established, was the construction of several wicking beds, raised vegie beds, and the showpiece cubby house for the children (both big and small!) of the family. Seila tirelessly took everyone through the intricacies of wicking-bed construction, all the way from the best method of deconstructing and denailing the crates, to how to ensure the correct depth and ordering of the 'lasagna' filling. The beds ingeniously also acted as the 'fence', providing delineation of the space as well as acting as a beautiful, edible barrier for a safe children's play area.
By the time the promised cool change finally swept through, the chilled water and 'sun tea' had been augmented by delicious fruit smoothies to ease the way through the final task of the day – planting up the beds to kickstart the family's journey to a gorgeous – and edible – surround for their new home. Not everyone could make it all the way through – well past the scheduled finish time – but all who made their way out to Eltham will have felt great satisfaction in making such a contribution to helping Renée, Ant, Callista and Cinta on their way.
After rainy days earlier in the week, the day of the permablitz was a sunny and welcoming one throughout. Most of the crew arrived for the start (10 am on a Sunday!) and got straight into it. The day began with weeding and removing nails from old sleepers that would soon be used for the raised veggie beds. Some tree branch pruning was going on too.
Lots of the weeds and branches collected were then used to bulk up the beds, once the beds were built, using the hugelkultur method (branches and weeds first, soil on top).
Meanwhile the antique, broken down, ‘renovators dream’ chook shed had a team resurrecting it so that it became once again fox proof and a Taj Mahal for chooks (the frame needed a new roof, walls and door so we used old building materials that had come from other places in the yard).
In the chook run we created some sturdy compost bays using packing crates generously donated by a blitzer.
Work continued at a steady pace after lunch and we finished the day by kick starting the orchard part of the yard. We planted 2 olive trees and a pear tree and covered the area around the trees with cardboard and mulch (unused branches that had been put through the shredder).
Many ideas were shared, items donated and a good time was had. Thanks so much to everyone involved!
A plug for our friends who produce the excellent Permaculture Calendar:
Organise your life and share your schedule with this lovely, deceptively simple but thought-provoking, calendar in your home or workplace. It's filled with inspirational and thought provoking images that support and reinforce your values every day of the year
"It would easily be the most useful and inspiring calendar I've ever come across - it's the very appropriate, definitely gift worthy, and what I like to call honest" Rob Bartrum
Produced in Australia on 100% recycled paper using vegetable based inks. 10% of net return donated to Permafund. Size: A4 (210mm x 297mm) opening to A3.
RRP $12 and available from www.permacultureprinciples.com
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