[Update 7-Nov-12: Check out the timelapse video!]
It was a gorgeous day. The sun kindly poked its head out just in time for the first blitzers to arrive - some new faces, and others who met at previous blitzes. In a circle of blitz karma, the host of one of my very first permablitzes turned up at my own!
As always, it was incredible how quickly the yard miraculously transformed from a mass of weeds into curvaceous beds, which were mulched and planted with a range of seedlings - some of which we raised ourselves, some purchased from a local festival, and many kindly donated by those who came. Two of our awesome designers, Dylan and Jo, led a series of workshops on how to build a planter made of recycled wood from pallets, vertical pallet gardening, and making a worm farm. There was such a great vibe among all present - for most of whom this was their first blitz - and I think we all learned a lot with, and from, each other. (This is the best part of a Permablitz!)
Thank you so much to everyone who came, or offered support in one way or another. It's really amazing what we achieved together in such a short time. See you at another blitz, somewhere, somehow!
We had about seven people attend the blitz on Sunday. We relocated about three cubic metres of soil, set up about four raised vegie beds including planting seedlings, and weeded the existing orchard in the front garden.
David and Nancy were great hosts, helping out and providing a lovely lunch.
[ 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.
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