Permablitz #179 – Doncaster
The remit at this blitz was to make and install four wicking beds and renovate an existing wicking bed that didn’t work due to leakage.
As always we all introduced ourselves and with our names on our chest did some stretches. This fun work can often lead you to movements you’ve never done before so warming the body up ensures less chance of strains and pulled muscles.
As Seila is an expert wicking bed builder he was leading the day here at St Gregory the Great Primary School. Getting a group like this together means that, in one day, four wicking beds and some reno is achievable, fun and immensely satisfying for all concerned. Real social permaculture in action.
Seila had visited the site and had discussions around the site limitations. Such things as a possible doorway being built from the school building onto this area at a later date meant that restrictions were considered in the design. With this slightly restricted space it was also decided that the important strengthening braces would be inside the beds rather than outside. Also the users of these beds will be both children and adults. So two beds were lower than the other two.
The types of plants grown also has an impact in terms of their mature height for harvest and care. If you are going to have tomatoes for instance imagine how tall these might be in an already elevated bed. That said, you might want to include some deep rooted plants as these can deal with any stagnation issues that might occur in sitting water. Rosemary and other perennials would do this job well.
While stagnant water may need consideration it is for the opposite reasons that we were building these spectacularly water-efficient beds. Statistics are there to be argued over though some say that 90% is the level of water saving you'll experience with wicking beds. And the odd summer weekend away from your veggies without needing an automated irrigation system, or good neighbours, is also a bonus.
Here at St Gregory the Great these beds are for an elective lunchtime group so good attendance shouldn’t be a problem. However, vigorous enthusiastic children with sharp tools do not mix well with tearable waterproofing plastic liner. If this hazard is managed well such beds will last for many years.
The renovation work at the school’s existing wicking bed was mainly due to poor implementation of the planned build. During the initial build it was decided that two overlapping pieces of plastic would be fine as a liner. It wasn’t. It never would have been. Only one piece will ever be waterproof. So lesson learned and move on with wisdom!
The group was half first timers and half had done one or two more before. There was a fifth timer present and to be honest we are all there for both similar and different reasons. For some it’s to learn skills for home use. Some are doing their two blitzes before applying for one of their own and others believe that giving time to community projects is the way ahead. It doesn’t matter. Meeting new people and chatting over some excellent foods at breaks is such a pleasure!
The goals of the day were well and truly reached. The post-lunchtime drop-off was pleasingly low and we were a happy team of new world builders. What’s not to like? We learnt an incredible amount from Seila. From the very practical building to the planting it’s always inspiring to pick up tips from experts and a permablitz will always have at least one in the leader and often many participants have something to share.
If anything here has interested you to find out more about wicking beds or Permablitz then honour that good good feeling and take your next step now. Be the change you want to see in the world and be part of the transformation to a better way of working with nature!