Alternative lawns and strawberry fields forever
It’s getting cold out there… The last few blitzes have been shivery affairs, with autumn days now giving way to wintry chills – which goes to show that Permablitz Volunteers are a hardy and determined breed! In the Brunswick blitz, the volunteers created an amazing alternative lawn which was a combination of thyme, various mints and some other groundcover plants.
We have seen gardens with literal strawberry fields – and given that it’s a good time of the year to be planting them, we’ve decided that the song of the month is none other than obscure 60s Brit band The Beatles with Strawberry Fields Forever.
Permablitz 196 - Brunswick
It was a beautiful autumn day when a dozen or so blitzers gathered at Lenka and her family’s place in Brunswick. Well… actually… that’s not entirely true.
On this particular day Melbourne was showing us her mean streak: when it didn’t rain, it drizzled and when it didn’t drizzle it was just plain cold. However, even though Mother Nature might have stopped dodos in their tracks she was no match for the power of the mighty Permablitzers!
Guild Sessions Rebooted
The Permablitz Designers Guild Sessions have been few and far between for a while now, but new co-ordinator Naomi is keen to turn that around! With potential topics such as drawing design plans, low-cost sustainable housing, exploring mushroom and mycelium for food or soil remediation, livestock in urban settings as well as edible natives and a whole treasure-trove more of amazing ideas, we’re sure to be announcing the first of Naomi’s new Guild Sessions soon.
Make sure you keep an eye out for them!
Hero of the month
Rocoto Tree Chilli
The Rocoto pepper is perhaps the most unique commercially available pepper available, largely due to the isolated region of South and Central America this pepper grows in. Often difficult to source in areas outside north western South America and the southern regions of Central America, the Rocoto is very hot.
In Melbourne, Rocoto is one chilli plant that can be grown all year round. Whilst severe or successive frosts can damage the plant, it usually recovers sufficiently to grow even bigger the next year. Eventually it will be the size of a large bush and you may have to cut it back with a pair of large clippers to deter its sprawling habit. It will most likely produce more chillies than you can use.
Bits and Pieces
Buy some chooks, save the world!
Nick van Stekelenburg has something to crow about. The Dignams Creek farmer says he has the cure for most, if not all, of our food production challenges thanks to the humble chook.
Nick believes, correctly managed, chickens are the way and the means for successful fruit and vegetable production: Reducing or eliminating the need for pesticides, herbicides, artificial fertilisers, fossil fuels and hard work, while providing abundant eggs and meat.
Nick calls his agricultural cure-all the Chicken Panacea. Nick’s Chicken Panacea is based on the chicken tractor: a lightweight and mobile chook house, one metre wide and a few metres long. Each tractor keeps two to four chooks contained to do their work of pest control, weeding, and ploughing.
The metre wide vegetable beds make for easy planting and harvesting. “For planting out, we use cardboard first then mulch over the top and then plant through the cardboard,” Nick said.
To read more about Nick’s Chicken Panacea, click here.
New architecture solutions places veggie patches on the roof!
As our urban environments become denser and denser, those traditional features of residential dwellings that used to be taken for granted – for instance, vegetable gardens – disappear. Aside from the negative impact this dwindling of green space has on communities, it also comes at an exceptionally bad time for the environment; a time wherein sustainable architectural practice and eco-friendly living is becoming more crucial than ever.
Thankfully, some architects are emerging as champions in the race to innovate. For instance, Damian Rogers’ Leaf House in Melbourne tackles the problem of yard space by utilising the roof as an edible garden.
The brief from residents was to provide new living, dining and kitchen spaces to the existing house; a challenge made more difficult by the tight heritage controls on the home and surrounding streetscape. It was also important to the client to incorporate a fully-fledged vegetable garden into the limited space.
“The extension reconnects the dwelling with nature, from the play of sunlight filtered by the trees to the glazed roof which connects the interior to the external landscape,” reads a statement from the architect. “Inspired by the client to live sustainably, it was essential to give back to the landscape what would be lost. The roof is utilised as an edible garden, adding a deep, intrinsic soul to the space.”
“Beyond the building’s function, it also seeks to inspire a lifestyle choice of sustainability through the connection and inspiration of its contextual landscape. The angled glass blurs the lines between the roof and walls, to continually enhance the visual connection with the garden at both levels.
“Reconnecting with nature will inspire sustainability.”
In the Garden
May is the last month of autumn, and the weather is starting to get really cold! This is a time for pruning, dividing any perennials you may have, and putting in new trees, shrubs and vines. It’s also the time to clean up the garden, remove dead, diseased or excess branches and plants, and start collecting all the wonderful leaves which can be used for mulching and compost!
Some suburbs are well known for the massive amounts of leaves that fall, and you can sometimes see die-hard gardeners collecting the fallen leaves in garbage bags – it’s free mulch after all!
Seeds that do well in May include…
- Broad beans
- Corn Salad
- Mustard greens
- Pak Choy
- Snow Peas
- Strawberry Plants
Remember: some seeds do better starting off in punnets, some in pots and some in the ground. To get the best from your seedlings be sure to check the best methods first!
Til next month, from deep in the burrow of Permablitz Melbourne decentral
– keep those home fires burning!