Blitzes, green manures and awesome gardens!
It’s April already – the year seems to be racing by! There’s been lots of great garden viewings of late thanks to the Open Garden program, Karen Sutherland opening her gates for the Guild Session, and our very own Hermann and Matt having their garden showcased for a photographic series!
We’re all getting our brassicas and winter veggies into the garden, making sure the garlic is in, and of course putting in some green manures to replenish areas with tired soil. We just ate the last of our home-made apple pies thanks to our backyard surplus, and it’s in honour of our newly-rounded bellies that the song of the month is from r’n’b songstress Erykah Badu with Apple Tree!
Guild Session 11 – Karen Sutherland’s Garden Tour
Many of us were very excited to be able to see Karen Sutherland‘s renowned garden – Gunyah has been featured on many a gardening show, and Karen’s depth of knowledge on all things native edible are inspiring. So on a warm Wednesday evening, 30 or so eager Guildies (and a few non-Guildies!) met in a nearby park to network and socialise before the main event. One kind soul brought along seed heads and a large bag of cucumbers, which were quickly munched down. Finally 6.30 arrived and we headed off to the Pascoe Vale South garden expecting something special. And we weren’t disappointed!
Life as a human book
A human library works just like a book library – except that it’s humans providing the knowledge through the chance for one-on-one loans.
The concept is simple: instead of checking out a book, visitors to the human library ‘borrow’ a person who has stories to tell or unique expertise. As part of the sustainable living festival, visitors to the Library at the Dock could borrow ‘green heroes’ to interrogate them about topics that matter: Worm farming, Electric cars, sustainable housing, green laneways, food waste and thanks to our Permablitz’s own Hermann also about permaculture.
Permablitz revisited: Upwey 18 months later
Permablitz Revisited is a new series where we check back in with previous Permablitz hosts to see what impact the blitz has made on them after the day.
So about 18 months after the original Upwey Permablitz, we visited Tom to see how it has developed: what worked, and what didn’t. Certainly the veggies worked – the garden has supplied enough leafy greens for him and Aich and their two children ever since!
Hermann and Matt's sharehouse garden impresses!
Respected photographer Ponch Hawkes says a recent commission not only continues her interest in documenting specific communities but also gave her a chance to extend her long-term interest in gardening.
After being flooded with responses to a call-out, Hawkes and curator Diane Soumilas selected 10 Melbourne gardens to visit and photograph. Choosing a variety of gardens – including older decorative ones, one Japanese-style and one community garden – Hawkes was particularly impressed by the five sharehouse residents (including Permablitz superstars Hermann and Matt) who have converted their large backyard into a sustainable vegie patch complete with aquaculture (they’re growing fish), chickens and an apiary.
“It’s just so productive – they gave me some honey from their bees,” the artist says.
Hero of the month
The story of the fava bean weaves back millenia through many cultures, and yet no civilisation has ever, so far as we know, worshipped a broad bean god — which seams like a terrible oversight given the bean’s awe inspiring properties.
Therefore we give you a god of our own creation: Lord Fava, the best and only broad bean god to have ever existed. He is great and powerful. Love and fear him. If you have a rare pre-existing blood condition, he might smite you (see below). But for the rest of us he brings fertility and protein. His hands are surrounded by powerful balls of nitrogen fixing nodules. They are filled with magical microbes, his familiars. I say ‘he’ but ‘he’, like most plants, is hermaphroditic. No body knows what’s underneath that loin cloth.
Join us in prayer, and the ritual sacrifice of a baby goat, as we look into the history, uses of, and gardening tips for the mighty Lord Fava and the Broad Beans…
Bits and Pieces
A Twenty-Something’s Quest to Distribute His Neighbors’ Backyard Fruit
A few years back, Chris Castro took stock of his hometown. The 27-year-old’s assessment: Few of Orlando’s suburban yards were being used for much of anything.
Instead of shrugging off the sprawl, Castro took action, founding Fleet Farming with his friend Heather Grove, in February 2014. The nonprofit organization enlists private homeowners’ land for use as organic garden plots, which are tended and harvested by volunteers.
“I just wanted to connect people to fresh, local, organic produce, which was surprisingly hard to do here,” says Castro. Participating homeowners get first dibs on their yard’s yield; the remaining produce is sold at a farmers market or to area restaurants, with all revenue going to fund and expand Fleet Farming initiatives. After enrolling more than 200 yards in 18 months, Castro launched a program called Fleet Fruits, encouraging Orlando residents to contribute fruit from trees on their properties.
Though Castro’s original aim may have been hyper local, his concept’s already gone global. Since Fleet Farming began selling its Tool Kit (a complete guide to starting a Fleet branch in your community) online for $75, similar programs have been established in Oakland, Calfornia, and Kampala, Uganda.
In the garden
Have you got your garlic in yet? If not, now is the time to do it! It’s also a good time to collect all those autumn leaves, propagate your hardwood cuttings and think about moving any deciduous tree that hasn’t been doing so well.
Seeds that do well in April include…
- Broad beans
- Corn Salad
- Florence Fennel
- Mustard greens
- Pak Choy
- Snow Peas
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 all at Permablitz Melbourne decentral – turnip the beet!