Archive for the ‘Permaculture Out West’ 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!


Permaculture Out West are holding an open BYO picnic at the Maribyrnong Living Museum this Sunday and you’re all invited!

It’s our end of year get together, and will be part of a full day of festivities as part of ‘Memorybyrnong’ project – celebrating all the stories of people living in the area of Maribyrnong.

If you haven’t been to the Living Museum, here’s a great opportunity to check it out! Situated by the Maribyrnong River in Pipemakers Park, off Van Ness Ave, Maribyrnong (Melway Ref Map 28 B10), it’s a beautiful site. My favourite part is the History Of The Land Garden. View Map

There are other groups holding events throughout the day, Permaculture Out West will be having the BYO picnic from 4pm-7pm. You can come down to say hi, see what we’re about, but it’s also going to be the opportunity to put some faces to the email addresses on the mailing list! Should be a lot of fun.

If you’re REALLY keen, POW will also be having a stall at the Braybrook Big Backyard adjacent to Braybrook Community Garden on Churchill Ave too:

Braybrook’s Big Backyard
Sunday 29 November, 12noon to 4pm
Braybrook Community Centre
107-139 Churchill Ave, Braybrook Park

So much happening out west!

ALSO while I’m at it, this looks like it’s going to be lots of fun too!:

Hope to see you at one of them!

[image from flickr
– imagine if we could establish something like THIS right here in Maidstone! To share with all!]

So many exciting community projects happening in the inner west at the moment!

Last month I attended my first Permaculture Out West meeting – I was so excited to hear it even existed! Like minds in my own neighbourhood, who’d have thunk it? Actually these guys put me to shame, I’ve just scrabbling to find out what’s going on and helping where I can.

One project I am particularly interested in is a proposal they are putting forth to council to start up some market community gardens at a site in Maidstone. Council are wanting to sell the disused land that was once upon a time the old Maidstone Community Centre and later a tennis club. It’s just a short walk from our place.

The POW group are pitching to council to delay the sale for 5 years and to let us try and establish some kind of community market gardens, in the model of CERES. The idea is that the organic produce grown at the gardens would be available for purchase and you could subscribe to get a $20 a week box of seasonal veggies delivered to your door etc..

They are collecting signatures and email to council, but it needs to be in by Oct 30. So if you are a local resident in the Maribyrnong Council area, and think it’s a good idea, please take five minutes to write a short support email to the address below!

Maribyrnong City Council is seeking expressions of interest for the purchase of council land by public tender for Maidstone Public Hall site at 16 Thomson Street Maidstone.

Permaculture Out West (POW) is proposing that the land be kept in community hands.

Permaculture Out West ( is a group of individuals interested in growing more food in the city.

  • Our goals are:
  • to reduce our impact on the rural landscape;
  • to produce food in a more sustainable way. No petroleum based
  • to re-connect people to their community and to the land.

We are a not-for-profit group. Run by community members for the community.

POW’s proposal is to develop a market garden on Maidstone Public Hall site. Vegetables would be grown on site without the use of pesticides and herbicides. Water would be harvested from the site’s building.

  • Planned Services
  • a weekly box of fresh vegetables
  • box of vegetables delivered to your door
  • collection of your food waste. This will be composted and used for the garden beds.

We are proposing a commercial operation that will employ 2 people on site to maintain the gardens. Parking and traffic will be kept to a minimum. We respect the right for people to enjoy their neighbourhood and not add additional car traffic and parking problems.

If you support POW’s proposal to keep the land in community hands, please register your support by sending an email to Please include your name, address, phone number and email address. We’ll use your name and address in the Expression of Interest application to show the level of support for a market garden. Your details will NOT be passed onto a third party, and we won’t attempt to contact you unless you indicate you’d like to be actively involved.

If you cannot email or if you want more information, please call Katerina: 0422 261 725.

Our expression of interest must be submitted by Friday 30th of October, so please contact us before then. This is our only chance to keep this land in community hands!

[image from flickr]


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!

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!

{image from my flickr]

Well I did say I was going to throw myself back into things come Spring…

I have been to three Permablitzes in just under a month! And all in the inner West. Yay, didn’t even have to cross the river, well not the Yarra River at least.

[Blitzin’ Part 1] MOONEE PONDS
This was a fantastic Permablitz to attend to reinvigorate my enthusiasm for permaculture, community and gardening!

The hosts wisely limited numbers to 15 to make sure everyone would get something out of the day. I haven’t attended any ‘blitzes that have had too many people yet but I have heard about some experiences from other volunteers. There seems to be a bit of a balance required in getting a good amount of people so that there’s enough labour that everyone can contribute without being completely worn into the ground vs having too many people standing around a little uncomfortable, not sure what to do without enough tools, space and jobs to get stuck into.

We really got SO much done this day, it was really exciting. And furthermore I really appreciated getting an email from the host Anne-Louise this weekend, with before and after shots of the garden. Immensely satisfying to know I was apart of that!

Anne-Louise had recently completed a Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course at Forest Edge. There were a few other recent graduates there on the day as well. And Cam and Jessie from Forest Edge were leading the Permablitz, with Cam teaching us plenty on the day.

This is basically what we did:
– Anne Louise has a beautiful home and large garden (in my dreams!) in Moonee Ponds. It had a really large lawn, shed, water tank, huge big pepper tree in the corner with a cubbie under it.
– the permaculture design was to set up a ‘food forest’ – the design was rather ingenius:

– a hose was used to create a beautifully curved section for the food forest. You do get a really beautiful line when you use a hose to mark out the area.
– we ripped up all the grass from that area. This was being done already by the time I arrived, I think someone wanted the grass so it was kind of cut up and lifted and rolled so someone could take it away. Nice reuse of the lawn.

– then it was explained that the overflow from the watertank was going to run into a series of ‘swales’ ie even levelled trenches in which the water would sit and seep into the ground. We used a simple homemade spirit level and learnt how to use it ourselves to ensure the trenches were dug evenly so the water would sit and not run off.

– in the garden beds, inbetween the swales, a number of barerooted fruit trees were be planted, where they will be able to seep up the water from the swales.

– Cam planted 2 apple trees side by side, an alternative to having 2 types of apple grafted onto the one tree (apples need to be in pairs in order to pollinate and produce fruit). The 2 trees were in a sense grown as one tree.

– Cam had a really interesting method of planting trees, or anything with roots really.

    (but also a method useful for planting trees. shrubs anything you need to dig a decent size hole for generally)
    Firstly Cam doesn’t advocate digging a hole, putting a heap of compost in the bottom of it and planting the tree on top – as this won’t encourage the tree’s roots to seek out nutrient and therefore develop a stronger root structure.
  • Instead he positioned the trees, laid out the roots nicely to encourage them to spread out – digging little ‘fingers’ to lay them into if necessary, and made sure the tree would be at right level in the ground by laying a spade handle/ anything straight over the top to check the level (there’s a smart idea! I am always terrible at estimating the right height).
  • He also took into account a laying of compost ON TOP and spread around (so the tree is still getting compost – but it was spread out instead.
  • Then instead of pouring in the soil and watering it once full he showed us how to gently wash the water in, essentially making a slurry of water that got thicker and thicker in texture as you add more soil and it gets muddier and muddier. You gently wash the soil and water to stabilise the roots until it stands on its own!
  • This method makes so much more sense to me. It’s just a bit of a two person job but considering it’s a tree you’re planting that will be there for years and years – WELL WORTH THE EFFORT I say!

– the garden beds were mulched with thick layers of wet newspaper and cardboard (the kiddies splashy pool was very handy for that) to stop the grass growing back. And then topped with compost.

– then the swales were filled in with a really deep layer of mulch – which came free from the council and smelt just divine because it had plenty of eucalypt leaves in it!

– this must have been my favourite part of the day – as we got to jump up and down to compress the mulch paths!

– at the end of the swale section a wetland area and a pond was created

– now here is a useful tip I learnt on the day. The guys dug the hole for the pond and positioned these massive rocks to figure out where to place them before putting in the thick rubber lining for the pond. I was wondering how they were going to get the rubber lining under the rocks.

– well they had to roll them back out of the way, position the rubber lining and then reposition the rocks. But… how to remember which way they go?

– Have someone like Moo standing by taking photos of the rocks so you know which way they go! Or perhaps use some chalk to number and mark which way is up! A rubber hose will be connected from the rainwater tank, to fill the pond.

– then we set about planting out some perennial herbs (warrigal greens, yarrow, comfrey) and red currants in the garden beds.

  • Another handy tip – mulch the garden bed FIRST (rather than having to delicate mulch around your little seedlings after getting them in the ground).
  • The key is to gently move away the top laver of mulch, quite wide from where you are going to plant into.
  • Then use your trowel to cut through the wet newspaper/ cardboard if you have used that as extra mulch (just enough to plant into).
  • Dig your hole into the compost, but try and much as possible to avoid dumpling that soil on top of the mulch you just parted – because if weed seeds come along they will start growing in it!
  • Plant your seedling in using a small watering can and the ‘slurry’ method described above
  • Move back your mulch. Presto!
  • NB we did plant some shallow rooted seedings in without breaking the cardboard/ newspaper (to minimise the chance of the grass that we removed growing back. We did this for a weeping form of camomile that we planted near the edge of the beds to spill over into the mulched path.

– ALL DONE! It was pretty funny that at the end of the day, after everything had been planted and mulched, you couldn’t even see any signs of the massive trenches we had spent most of the day digging and levelling! But the family will be reaping the rewards of our efforts for years to come. YAY!

More photos at my Flickr set here.




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