Permablitz #201 – Brunswick West
The sun was out, the mattocks were swinging and the soil was delivered. The day of Sandy’s Permablitz in her Brunswick backyard offered just perfect conditions for yet another poor-looking kikuyu lawn to be ripped out and for productive garden beds to be put in in its place.
A lot of people showed up to this blitz and the transformation was rapid. Neighbours popped in to help with the food and tea brewing, and the hosts delivered one beautiful feast!
Achievements of the day
- Ripped up a fair amount of kikuyu lawn
- Put in four espaliers
- Planted a subtropical food forest
- Built retaining walls with bluestone
- Put up an arch and planted a climbing rose and a passion fruit vine to cover the arch
- Pulled out a large mint plant and handing it over for planting in other gardens
- Planted vegetables
- Moved gravel to go on paths
- Moved a few tonnes of soil to the new beds
- Built lasagne-style garden beds and planted them out with ornamentals and edibles
Workshops and lessons learned
Anne gave a great workshop on the options we have at hand to obviate troublesome rhizomatous grasses like kikuyu. Given that most permies would like to avoid toxic poisons, hand removal is the most effective way. There was a great discussion on how to use pigs – an animal that slurps kikuyu rhizomes like a young Italian boy slurps pasta – in lawn removal. A rotational pig grazing scheme between the neighbours was dreamt up, maybe with a big pit-cook barbecue to build community at the end of it all? 😉
On a less smelly note, Anne has also tried steaming the troublesome grass and while it does kill the top part of the grass and makes it easier to remove, it will not kill the underground runners. At this blitz one of the tasks was to install two garden wings to make Sandy’s view from her writer’s den more pleasant. Leaving a lot of lawn for her dog to play, the issue of preventing kikuyu from re-entering the garden beds had to be solved. The design team decided to put cardboard along the edge and in the bottom of the dug out beds, noting that Sandy will have to do some weeding in the future once the cardboard has broken down and the roots of the grass start to penetrate the garden beds.
A great big north-facing wall was part of the backyard, virtually screaming for the thermal mass to be used. Clare explained how this place could be used to grow plants that wouldn’t normally thrive in Melbourne due to their frost-tenderness.
Terry held a great workshop on how to put in espaliers for fruit trees. This technique can be used to make the trees take up less space and to grow them close to a wall for thermal mass heating. The design team also cleverly created different rooms in the garden with the espalier as a living fence. Unfortunately there was a dear lesson learned during the day. Swinging mattocks and shovels around trellis wires is not such a good idea, but it has to be done if there is soil to be dug. Everyone was nodding in agreement when Terry pointed out that trellises should be put in after soil preparation…
It all came together in the end and the group could be very satisfied when looking out over the totally transformed garden. Another bite taken in and out of the suburbs!