Eltham – 4 years later
How long does the enthusiasm last? Judging by Renée and Antony’s garden, it simply blends into your life. Four years ago, shortly after they had moved into a newly built house, the Permablitz Design team led by Ben went to work. There was nothing green, just dirt; in planning, they just needed to ensure that the front garden contained only edibles or plants indigenous to Nillumbik. Not a difficult task for a Permablitz!
On the day, a pond was created, raised garden beds and four wicking beds built, a cubby house erected for the two little girls, planting done, and food eaten. There was still some work to be done in the weeks that followed, but the day itself broke the back of the job – the Hasseldines had an edible garden.
Today, on a drizzly Melbourne spring morning, the garden is still green and productive. In the front, the pond is surrounded by mature native plants, needs little care and looks like it has been there forever. The huge artichoke plant is enormously decorative. A dwarf peach is now in flower and the apple tree and curry trees are happily doing their thing. The boundary with one neighbour is a range of small fruit trees, which will soon provide more than enough for the family of four.
Renée and Ant love their garden – Renée’s thumb has definitely changed from black to green! The garden is full of things they hadn’t realized would still be there. Even now in a cold, wet September, there were broad beans, a few snow peas, a lonely asparagus shoot (that the girls hadn’t eaten yet – it seems they snack on the garden veg – terrific!) The herbs were almost crowding out the strawberries, so in true perma-sharing spirit, I have come home with parsley, perennial basil and others.
There is little maintenance needed, which is excellent for a busy young family. They compost household scraps and have re-purposed an old bathtub into a 5-star worm farm. There was a full bucket of worm wee when I arrived, all ready to fertilise for the spring.
The raised beds are looking like needing to be replaced and some of the wood has deteriorated – after four years this might be expected, depending on the type of wood used. It should have been hardwood, Ant said. The wicking beds did not get sealed well so have not worked. Other than that, everything is going along well.
Much of the bounty is self-sown – the compost gave up some thirty pumpkins last year and it looks like a few tomato plants are on the way this year – potatoes along the back fence. The rest just keeps on coming – perennial basil and other herbs, artichokes from a few plants, grapes (if they can net them before the rosellas arrive), and asparagus.
The garden supplements their diet, but does provide a few full meals here and there (they are a vegan family) and there is no longer the need to buy herbs.
Both Renée and Ant are grateful for the Permablitz folk and the amazing amount of work that got done in a single day – the cubby house is still being used and in mighty fine shape!
The Hasseldines take the garden for granted now and just use it – it is their first garden and they can manage it easily. Their two girls grew up with a garden and eat straight from the plants when they want a snack – how healthy is that!!