Permablitz #204 – Jan Juc
Sonia’s family clan hosted a textbook permablitz on a sunny autumn day in Jan Juc. It started like so many blitzes do, with a great big pile of dirt on the driveway and a backyard full of couch grass that has no idea what’s coming to it. Goshen, of Watts Permaculture, and Permablitz veteran Fiona, curated a design including raised beds, an insect hotel and a rain garden to manage the flow of water on the sloping block. Many hands make light work, and so it was proven when in what seemed like a matter of moments, grass was banished by a flurry of rakes and mattocks, to reveal bare sandy soil below.
While sturdy planks of hardwood were being cut and crafted into frames for the veggie patches, the coastal dune landscape made it necessary for a team of volunteers to take up the task of earthworks to slow the future flow of water down the block. That meant a range of highly water tolerant plants to be settled in to the sloping sidelong edge of the block, coupled with a soak pit dug to pool the water at the bottom. As time goes on, the soak pit will hopefully satiate the roots of the large eucalypts in the neighbouring yard, diverting their attention from the subsurface of the garden beds and leaving the veggies plenty to drink.
What is a soak pit?
Soak pits are a water sensitive urban design (WSUD) mechanism that relies on the stormwater principles of retention and infiltration. Featuring a large permeable porous walled chamber, the Soak Pits are located at the end of a stormwater drainage network, hence the lowest lying point, buried underground and out of sight. The soak pits collect the incoming storm water, and stores it while the water slowly percolates into the surrounding ground through an infiltration process. In layman’s terms water is directed off the surface where it is a nuisance, and stored underground where it slowly seeps into the earth.
Mornington Peninsula Shire Drainage
So below as above, the resource management state of mind carried over into the construction of an insect hotel. Upcycled from an old shelf and various sticks and tubes found on site, the arthropod lodgings went into business on the side fence to attract a diversity of winged and crawling guests. The five-star facility promotes a healthy equilibrium of bugs and birds in the tiny world of the backyard, helping to keep little herbivorous veggie bed pests in check.
Back below the soil, lengths of PVC pipe were inserted into the patches as in-situ worm farms, consuming kitchen scraps from above and excreting the brown gold right into the root zone for a happy rhizosphere. With all those self-sustaining systems in place, the garden was ready for a satisfying injection of seedlings. At this point the blitzed backyard was a shining example of all that is good about greening the community. A blend of first time permies got a solid dose of inspiration, while the more seasoned of the crowd had a top up of the good vibes that abound after a productive day in the yard.
A big thankyou to Sonia and family for the yummy foods and humble hospitality, and of course to all of the eager beavers that came down and inched us one home closer to a living, breathing, ecosystem-cleaning environment in our little corner of the world.