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Archive for the ‘Permablitz’ Category


Yesterday, Scott came around for an initial site visit of our yard to start scoping out it out for our Permablitz next year. So excited!

But I realised I have been very slack and have been HOARDING photos of delectable gardens that I really must share with you all.

First up, here’s a Permablitz we did a month or so ago at Nyree’s place in West Footscray. It was a lot of fun, and so organised! Nyree emailed out an overview of what we would be in for so we knew what tools would be needed and what kinds of things we’d be doing. Then when we turned up they had details of the projects to be done displayed with instructions and lists of materials to be used for them up and everything:


It was a relatively small site, but it’s always so exciting to see just how much it’s possible to fit in!

Here’s the before shots of the front yard – concrete and geraniums.

With an army of ‘blitzers though, the fence was dismantled,

concrete was smashed and ripped up,


beds built and paths made


Look how much bigger the space looks now! Sure beats unproductive concrete


This space has now been planted out as a FRUIT FOREST, veggie beds and sawdust paths.

Meanwhile out the back…

We ripped out some concrete in front of the brick shed, to create a raised veggie bed. Here we’re measuring out where the bed will go by seeing how long the sleepers we have to work with are.

Ripping out that wretched kikuya grass, it even survives under concrete!

Digging a sharp trench to try and stop the kikuya from growing back into the bed

Building the frame

Recycled piece of sheet roofing used as a water barrier so as not to damage the brick of the shed

Thick layer of wet newspaper laid on the bottom, again to hopefully retard any kikuya regrowth

And now the great raised bed lasagne mix. Here a layer of food scraps on the bottom – the bed is quite deep so these will just break down into compost.

Layer of compost and soil

Then a layer of peastraw litter from a friend’s chook house (!), compost, handfuls of blood and bone


Filling up! Though of course, this always breaks down and goes down a fair bit.

Don’t forget to water between each layer.

Ready to plant!

And what was a disused little corner is transformed into a highly productive, sizeable garden bed!


And in true permie style, making the most of every bit of available space, this space under the is being converted into a chook run, and a raised chook house built (no, the cubbie’s not being turned into a chicken mcmansion!)

What a day!


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[from my flickr set]

I’m Permablitzin’ faster than I can post em!

Here’s one we did at Mel’s place in Seddon, organised by the Permaculture Out West group. It’s a quite new group, I attended my first meeting this week and have signed up! Check out the swanky new site here.

I’m going to let the photos do most of the talking for this one.

Here’s the front of Mel’s place. She had planted a native and perennial edible verge.

She also planted some green manure that needed turning in. That’s what you can see here:

My wonderful weeding! There were some native grasses, warrigal greens and other natives and herbs amongst here for passersby to enjoy:

And yes it did give me a big kick up the butt to go home and finally tackle my OWN weeding! Here is Mel’s great little courtyard area out the front which she plans to eventually turn into a food forest. Perhaps at a future Permablitz?

An essential part of any great Permablitz – a scrumptious, energising feed for the volunteers!

Woah check out that line of rainwater tanks! Jealous. Surely they’ll just about be self sufficient in water with this much storage!

Putting together the chook house from scratch. Think we could put chook house on a wedding gift list?

Chook house was clad in reused weatherboard – so cute! Very nice touch.

Justa about done and ready to set up the chook run

Mel’s also got a rabbit(s?) Soft, furry, cute and their manure is great for the yard.

There is usually a workshop or two run at a Permablitz. Here is Kate running one on propagating soft wood cuttings

Kate also runs a business called ‘Rapunzel’s Wild Garden’ growing advanced edible seedlings to order, ready to put in your garden beds at home! Quite a brilliant idea. It means you need to plan ahead BUT gives you some wonderful choice of unusual heirloom varieties like those offered by Diggers Club, which are quite often not available at your regular nursery. Contact Kate at rapunzelswildgarden [at] bigpond [dot] com

She provided some WONDERFUL ideas about growing your own advance seedlings though. You can use strawberry punnets as mini glass houses to propagate from seed. And then you can pick them out and plant into the bottoms of 2L plastic milk cartons! Cut the tops and bottoms of them, fill with soil, plant your seedling. When they reach the size they are above, you can pop it directly into your garden bed and just slide the plastic off the top! You can reuse these a few times too. Brilliant idea and reuse of materials.

Now here is the area of the yard that believe it or not, was once all concrete! A wet concrete cutter was used to cut up the concrete to be reused to create raised garden bed (again – fantastic reuse of material!). Best thing about this method is that you can cut the concrete to the exact size you want it to be to create height of garden beds as well as a path to access them.

Here they are using builders sand to held level out the concrete pieces and compact it down to create the paths and walls for the garden bed

The beds were filled with soil and compost

A cover was made to protect the piping from the kitchen

Beautiful!

Ready to plant out with all these goodies


Mel and her fabulous new garden even made it into the local paper! Check out the story HERE.

UPCOMING WEST-SIDE PERMABLITZES:

Both in West Footscray!
Sat 10 Oct – Permablitz #77 Michelle’s at West Footscray.
More info here.

Sat 31 Oct – Nyree’s place in West Footscray.
More info here. Viva la spring. Please come and join Nyree and Willie in the West to help transform their small, barren, concrete yard into a scene from “The good life”. We will be building and planting a chicken house and run, raised garden beds and a vertical garden using the wire frames from old bed bases that require stripping. We also need help pulling up the front fence and garden to prepare the soil for a future food forest.

I’m sad I won’t be able to make the one this Saturday. I’m already booked into a CAE class to learn how to string my own pearl necklace! But hope to see you at Nyree’s at the end of the month.

In the meantime be sure to check out the fabulous newlook Permaculture Out West blog!


[image from flickr]

NEWSFLASH!

Remember the wonderful Monica whose blitz I blogged about a few weeks ago? See here to read the original post.

Well Monica is having an OPEN GARDEN DAY at her house in Moonee Ponds tomorrow Saturday 3rd October from 10am.

The address is 297 Ascot Vale Road, Moonee Ponds [Melway Ref 28 J8]

We will be popping along for sure and I really encourage anyone in the area to drop by and seeing her tremendously inspiring and productive garden.

They have also put together a CD that will be available on the day, that documents how the garden has come together over the years. I can’t wait to see it.

Monica’s house is a Sustainable home and Eco home, is also a heritage listed too.

She also has plenty of living creatures integrated in her design quail, ducklings, laying egg hens, rabbits etc.

Go check it out!



I turned down a Permablitz at our house today! It’s a bit too soon. We were offered a ‘blitz in November but we’re in the midst of wedding planning because we’re trying to get on top of it all early.

But it was nice to be offered already! I’ve been to four Permablitzes now and am just enjoying attending them, meeting other like minded people and learning valuable skills.

I think we will try and schedule one at our place after the wedding – a ‘newly weds Permablitz’ because really – it would be the best wedding present EVER!

And seeing we shamefully STILL haven’t gotten around to getting our rainwater tank we’re thinking perhaps we could ask people to put money towards us getting a rainwater tank for our wedding present. Rainwater tank and a chook run, ah I’d be so happy! Though, for the record we’re not just thinking of ourselves. We’re figuring out a way we can ask our guests to not just spend money on us, but to split it and to make a donation towards a charity as well, perhaps we could find a project we feel particularly connected to and raise money for it.

So perhaps an Autumn blitz in May, otherwise we could wait til August because that seems to be a good time – you can still get those bare rooted fruit trees in the ground then!

Tomorrow I am attending my first ‘Permaculture Out West‘ meeting to see what they are all about. There seems to be a real burst of permaculture, social and community type activity in the west at the moment. It’s tremendously inspiring!



{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.


Here’s some wonderful after shots that Anne-Louise emailed through to the volunteers who helped at her Permablitz in Moonee Ponds.

Imagine waking up to this each morning! Beautiful.


[Check out my other post documenting the day]

After watching the Permablitz featured on Costa’s Garden Odyssey last night I do believe I have chook envy.

I think the best newly wed gift we could possibly get is a Permablitz, including our own chook house and run so we can start collecting our own eggs!


SBS: Costa’s Garden Odyssey

A month or so ago, SBS started showing ads for upcoming TV series and this intriguing Greek garden gnome version of Warren Ellis kept popping up on our screen. Who is this Costa guy?

[Warren Ellis from The Dirty Three on flickr]

Well I just saw another ad tonight for this week’s episode with what looked very much like a Permablitz! COOL!

So I just spent some catch up time watching the first two episodes online. And indeed, in their third episode this week Costa will be visiting a Melbourne ‘blitz.

I’ll sure be tuning into that! So without sounding too much like an ad myself, Costa’s Garden Odyssey is on SBS on Thursday nights 8.00pm

Or you can watch them online here.



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