Monica’s Moonee Ponds Mini-Makeover

Posted on: September 13, 2009

{from my flickr set of Monica’s mini blitz]

I took AA along with me to his first ‘blitz a couple of weeks ago. It was at the amazing Monica’s house in Moonee Ponds. It was a small turnout and operated more like a working bee on the day but that’s not to say I didn’t learn just as much!

Monica’s house and property is just BEAUTIFUL. Originally from Romania, Monica has lived in her beautiful period home for 20 years. Monica is a civil engineer by trade. But at age 58 she decided to study horticulture. She had studied botany in her first year of university and later decided to further her knowledge, simply because she loves plants and working with nature! Her garden is quite inspiring.

She keeps chickens, ducks and quails which she feeds food scraps to and they in return give her eggs and valuable manure for the garden. She also has some gorgeous fluffy rabbits that she keeps and uses their manure throughout the garden as well. The garden is planted throughout with beautiful edible delights. She has a grey water irrigation system, a German designed passive heating and cooling system and she is working towards an Open Day in October. She wants to use her house to show people how to live a more sustainable lifestyle and put in to practise permaculture principles.

Upon arriving it was very evident that Monica is indeed a very special 70 year old lady! She was in her kitchen making homemade mayonnaise to feed us with a selection of vegetables from her garden later. In the backyard were trays of homemade soap that she had made earlier in the week. At lunch we were fed a delicious Romanian meal prepared by Monica and her friend, of mixed pork and beef rolls wrapped in fermented cabbage leaves (ie home made sauerkraut). The intricate dish had taken one week to prepare. Yummmmmm. That’s right – WILL WORK FREE IN YOUR YARD FOR DELICIOUS HOMECOOKED MEAL!

AA and I were set to work, giving the fence a ‘lime wash‘. It’s an ancient technique and a very cheap, non toxic paint. The lime wash or whitewash had been pre-prepared. There are lots of recipes to make your own on the internet. It’s incredibly inexpensive to make and you can even tint it whatever colour you like. And best of all, it’s environmentally friendly. Basically lime powder, that you can get from the hardware/ gardening store, had been mixed with water to make a thick paste, and watered down a little. It was then left to sit for 3-4 days and then by the time we used it, it was watered down to the consistency of milk. We used dustbin brushes and then paint brushes to paint the fence.

The main purpose of painting the fence white was to reflect more light onto the shady side of the garden. As we put the paint on AA and I were wondering what on earth it would look like once it dried. Because to be honest, it looked pretty average as we put it on. The wash was very watery so we really had to slop it on to get into all the crevices of the wooden fence. But thank goodness once it dried it looked really good! And my, was it BRIGHT!

I really love the raised garden bed Monica has, seen above on the left. No bending! And for folk like us, especially handy for keeping your dog out of the patch. I’d really like to get some of these at our place.

We also helped put up some star pickets against the newly painted fence, and thread wires through them to espallier some old varieties of pears and apples onto. I showed our fellow volunteers the ‘slurry technique‘ that I learnt watching Cameron the week before and we used that to plant the bare rooted trees.

We also helped dig up some cumquat trees. I can not tell you HOW AMAZING Monica’s soil is. I wish I took some photos of it – it was just a pure joy to dig up. It was beautifully moist, and easy to dig, with the FATTEST, JUICIEST, HEALTHIEST LOOKING WORMS I have ever seen in my life! My God! Monica said “that’s from 20 years of kitchen scraps!” I had a good giggle later, wondering what Monica must think of this recent resurgent interest in returning to the ‘old ways’ of doing things, taking a more holistic approach with permaculture principles which in so many instances are just plain old common sense when you think about it. Monica said “I have been doing this my whole life, this is not something I just recently picked up!” and that was very evident by the health of the soil of her garden. I wonder what the soil was like at her property when she first moved there. Seeing it’s on the same side of town as our place, it was quite possibly very heavy clay like we have. I guess if we feed our whole yard with veggie scraps, and animal manure from ducks, chickens and rabbits we too much dream of one day having soil like Monica’s. It certainly has inspired me!

Looking very forward to Monica’s Open Day and will be sure to take lots of photos to sure with you all.

See more photos from Monica’s HERE.


3 Responses to "Monica’s Moonee Ponds Mini-Makeover"

Moo, love your blog, always a highlight getting your permablitz experiences. So inspiring, a breath of fresh air.

You’ll be interested to know that Monica’s vegetable bed came from Very Edible Gardens (VEG) which is a company of the team at Permablitz. Great products. Great service.

Keep up the great work, blog, etc.

Hi Moo. Monica sounds like quite a character, and really knows her stuff. You are so right about the old ways. It is exactly how my grandparents used to manage their garden. Heaps of chook poo and sheep manure, and let the chooks do the rest of the digging for them. From what I remember, the soil was dark and rich, and always full of worms. Glad you had a great day.


[…] of the design – planting and espaliering apples and pears trees on a limewashed fence. Go to to see some photos. September 16th, 2009 | Category: […]

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