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.
Saturday 21 April was our very own permablitz at the rental property I share with my 4 other housemates in Preston. The weather was very cooperative! It started out a cold misty morning when the delivery truck came by with our 4 cubic meters of mushroom compost and mulch, but soon the sun came out for a very nice day. Volunteers started rolling in around 10am and started straight to work digging the fence for the chicken run and weeding the marrow by the peach tree. There were fewer people than we expected, but that turned out to be exactly the number we needed to get the job done.
After a false start just before Christmas last year (we had to pull the plug as numbers were too low), we were all set for 4 March. Response from volunteers was good, but it rained the week leading up to our blitz and poured down the day before.
Nevertheless, we had a good number to start in the morning. After some warm-up exercises facilitated by Kaz (Permablitz volunteer designer) we started. Seila ran a workshop on how wicking beds are set-up, while others assembled the other corrugated steel raised beds. Under Seila’s expert guidance the work progressed smoothly.
As it approached lunchtime, the weather fined up and more volunteers arrived. A break for lunch was enjoyed by all. After that a group started assembling a compost bin and the posts to espalier apple trees were installed. Meanwhile work started on rejuvenating existing garden beds and removing some ornamental shrubs to make way for more vegies. The four wicking beds were competed by 3pm at which time we stopped for afternoon tea.
After that focus was on planting vegies in the new wicking beds and cleaning up. Those who were able to stay enjoyed a well earned beer or glass of wine.
An excellent result all up taking into account the weather challenges! Special thanks to Sarah Gorman and Kaz who were the volunteer designers, Keith Rhodes who facilitated, and Seila for his wicking bed expertise.
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