[ After we made some reference to the apparent incompatibility of permablitzing and goth culture in a recent newsletter we received several responses from some wonderful ecologically-minded goths, who are involved in activities such as permaculture, homesteading, even tall ship rigging! Perhaps the most heartwarming and also awesomely hilarious came from Emily, who writes: ]
Hi Permablitz team,
It's so funny that you've had people share goth gardening stories with you, because my friends and I once thought we were the only goths in the garden, and then over the years have realised there's quite a big underground black draped, green thumbed gardening scene out there!
As young adults, two close friends and I used to covertly partake in environmental rehabilitation programs during the day and then don our corsets, doc martens, fishnets and big hair to head out at night. So secretive was one of my friends about not disclosing her day work with Conservation Volunteers that a friend in the goth scene once quizzed whether she was a sex-worker and that's why she wouldn't confess her profession! When we finally did tell another friend in the goth scene, he confided that he too cared about the environment and had a particular interest in bats (no great surprise there!). He then bought us books by the Australian conservationist Harry Butler to the nightclub he DJd at, carefully concealed in black plastic bags so as to preserve the secrecy of the goth gardeners. Later we spent a stint living in the UK and used to alternate our weekends either volunteering for local conservation causes or traveling to Germany to attend goth music festivals. Attached is a photo of me at/after a recent blitz wearing a souvenir t-shirt from one of the festivals, Zillo, with my friend Leoni who clearly embraces her hippy side far more than her goth side these days. Over the years our dedication to gardening has stood strong, but our involvement in the goth scene has definitely faded. But as they say, 'once you turn black you don't turn back', and we'll still crank old goth favourites on the stereo and laugh in glee when we hear gossip from the goth scene about prominent goths taking up horticulture courses. Clearly we weren't the only ones with black eyeliner and green thumbs!
[ We love it! Thanks so much Emily and Leoni!
Emily is also involved in Putting Down Roots Seed Bank a gardening and food security project for vulnerable migrants. They need urgent donations of seed and small gardening tools! More info here (PDF) ]
The morning was cloudy and pleasantly cool; the soil and compost piles spread between house and fence. Camellias dropped their last flowers with the rustle of wattle birds on their branches, as the worms continued their slow battle through the clay... Louis casually threw a rock onto the soil mound and as he watched it roll slowly down, the Blitzers pulled on their boots. Into cars and onto bikes they got and after trams they ran, arriving at the site in numbers fit for a dance party.
With tools named, the flailing began, directed by the one legged Lex and in no time backs and legs and arms were ready for the task ahead. Groups were formed and tasks described by a bewildered-blue-overalled lady. The sun came out, the shovels went in and the day was underway!
On a chilly winter’s day a large group of keen folk joined Preston renters Theo, Roger, Alex, Crystal and Tristan in their garden.
With an understanding landlord giving them the go ahead to do what they liked, provided they didn’t pull up his beloved roses, the plan was to get the most use of the large space.
The dark clouds and even darker Nick Cave soundtrack blasting from the makeshift DJ booth (ie. the shed) didn’t deter the collective enthusiasm, as numerous projects got underway. Carol and Brenneman showed us how to make a hügelkultur bed and more to the point, what it is exactly (it involves composting lots of woody material to make a raised garden bed). Brenneman had brought in some hot compost from his garden, tenderly swaddled in a blanket, and we cooed over it as he passed it around. Campbell led the wicking bed construction and Raf got us planting more fruit trees. Mel and a focused bunch of blitzers put their heads together on how to make a rainwater system, although due to time and resource constraints this didn’t end up coming together on the day – but then again, it’s not always the destination, but the journey getting there…
The day was also filled with lots of cardboard sheet mulching, pruning, chopping, stomping and a yummy hearty lunch. The housemates harvested some broccoli and tended to the previously planted produce. With 5pm approaching, a James Brown record was thrown on and everyone sped up accordingly, under the watchful eye of a curious neighbor observing from his balcony. Although not everything that was planned got done on the day, significant progress was made and it was fantastic to see just how much had been achieved.
The day went really well. We had over 20 enthusiastic Blitzers ranging from first-timers to seasoned veterans. Mara from POW did sterling work as uber-facilitator and others rose to the task for various projects. As luck would have it, the weather was uncharacteristically kind.
It was all a bit of a blur for me but by the end of the day we had constructed four raised beds, setting one up as a wicking bed. A trench was dug for irrigation of two 'conventional' beds, the straw yard and chook run fence were covered in chicken wire and a gate was hung on the chook run.
It was great meeting all the new Blitzers and having their help and company while progressing my PermaProject; many thanks to all who joined in!
The weather was just right for the blitz and there were approximately 30 people that attended with a couple of young girls and one boy, Juan, who enjoyed the day. Madeleine who lives in Sydney was here for a week and attended the blitz on her first day in Melbourne. After we assembled to introduce ourselves and did some warm up exercises everyone broke into groups for the various projects that were to be done. Simon set up a time motion video in the kitchen window that was placed so that it covered 90% of the backyard. It was great to see some familiar faces from other blitz’s that I had attended and there were a large number who were attending their first blitz.
Michelle did a workshop on how to wick raised garden beds and Mara did the workshop on the hot compost banana circle.
In all we managed to set up and create 8 raised wicked garden boxes with vegie seedlings planted in three, one wicked bed for the choko which was planted later and a berry box that was planted on the day with a raspberry bush, also 2 wine barrels were wicked, one for the bay tree and the other for herbs which are now planted. The Fox proof chook run has the main infrastructure set up; we did run out of time so the chicken wire was not completed. The recycled gate and most of the recycled picket fence also went up but once again we ran out of time and pickets. The hot compost banana circle was completed and looks fantastic. A bush was trimmed back so the bay tree could be set in place and edging was put around the bushes to create another garden bed. Wheels were added to the wine barrels for easy manoeuvrability. Bricks and edging from an old veggie patch was removed to make way for the wicked garden boxes. The excess soil and sand was shovelled from the nature strip into the boundary of the house.
Lunch was a spit roast with a variety of salads and pumpkin soup. A special thanks to Jude, Nadine and Edwin for preparing the food. At the end of the day a number of people stayed on to enjoy beer, wine and nibbles.
A big thank you to Mara and Michelle for all the work they put in before the blitz and on the day of the blitz to ensure that it all came together. There were a lot of projects and everyone worked hard to achieve the fantastic transformation of the backyard.
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