Posts Tagged ‘Permaculture Out West

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!

[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


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.


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!

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!

{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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