Permablitz #178 – Keilor
On a sunny Sunday in Keilor we perused the plans drawn up by Audrey and Mara as we arrived and mingled with a tea. Starting with a welcome circle and respect paid to the owners of the land (Wurundjeri), we each spoke our name and a one word summary of our expectations for the day. It was a great way of connecting with our fellow Blitzers and the site. And let’s not forget the warm-up! There’s usually something you’ll do on a Blitz that you haven’t done before so having warmed and stretched muscles will mean you won’t injure yourself with this extraordinary effort.
It was a front and back garden combo being blitzed with some work had already done by Brett (owner of the property) pulling up the front lawn and cardboard and mulch going down. Here the plan (see pictures for a plan photo) was to sheet mulch, put in irrigation from rain and grey water (buried pipes) and put in some fruit trees, berries and nitrogen fixing plants. Out back was adding more raised beds, making a banana plant circle again water fed by laying pipe for roof water, constructing a chook dome, setting up some trellis for espaliered trees and finishing a chook run. Phew. Lucky there were around 20 Blitzers raring to go.
Do the hard physical work first right? So digging out the pipeways was good to do right away. The soil out the back had a fair amount of small stones so we sifted that and used the good stuff for the raised beds and to go around the banana plants. Ready made sifters can be anything from a cake stand to one of those plastic stacking tray boxes. As some people sifted others took the wire from an old washing line that was to be used for the espalier trellis. I can tell you from experience that a good shift of sifting is like a session in the gym!
In the front yard there is clay not far beneath the surface, so the aim was to build up the soil and keep trees as high as possible, preventing them from sitting in any water that couldn’t drain due to that impervious clay.
A great aspect of working in groups is getting to know people. We came from all walks of life and all over and around Melbourne. Pulling couch grass can be tedious yet it passes easily if getting to know someone and chatting about shared interests. Before you know it morning tea is calling and the first taste of some wonderful food provided all day by Mel and family helpers. Mmmmm.
The irrigation pipes were wrapped in geo-textile fabric that was already on site. This is the white fabric you can see in the pictures. This stops small particles and roots from blocking the ends or holes running along the length. Learning on the job can sometimes happen and so we found we had enough to do the whole length when doing the banana irrigation although we didn’t know that when laying the front garden where just the ends got covered.
Stacking a couple of functions and outcomes is always a pleasure so making the banana irrigation line a wavy affair meant we had curves to put in fruit trees. These will also shade the metal raised beds you can see which suffer in the height of summer. Being deciduous means the light gets through for the winter veg.
Those metal, curved, raised beds were also to benefit from the chook dome. When the veg has finished for the season what more fun can you have as a chook than to scratch and peck at the old plants while adding your manure to the soil? Add a bit of shade cloth and the same dome can be a good seedling protector. Just don’t put the chooks in at seedling time!
The future of this site is exciting to imagine. All those trees! Plums, Avos, Apples, Almonds and more. In the front Audrey and crew planted as high a percentage of nitrogen fixing plants as they could to help the fruit trees along. Silver Berry was an interesting looking item and the acacia chosen for ground cover will also fix nitrogen. Yarrow will flower for six months so bring in happy and good insects to keep the pests at bay. And Comfrey has so much going for it you should get some before you even look it up.
There’s plenty to see in the pictures including the design and job lists so have a flick through if you didn’t already. It’s always fun to Blitz just get on the mailing list for the email alert. Be quick as they book out fast. The revolution waits for no-one! 🙂