Given that we are currently teaching a PDC with 40 students in the same precinct’s community centre each weekend this winter, it seemed to make sense that we should harness some of this influx of energy and point it at the garden. So with the help of Sydney Permablitz crew we put out the word and look what happened – a truly amazing day that saw the planting of a 70m living fence, new garden beds, no-dig potato patches, a new community worm farm and the beginnings of a food forest. Catch and store energy, indeed…
Nick gives the earlybirds a rundown of what we’re hoping to achieve in this Permablitz
The Alexandria Park Community Garden (zone 3) is on the south side of a soccer field. Which is great, except when there’s a soccer game on (like today). Then its more like guerilla gardening, in the sense that you’re constantly dodging missiles coming at you at high speed. Planting a living fence of bushy, hardy, flexible, fast-growing trees along the perimeter seemed to be our only available solution to lessen the barrage for the future.
And so that’s just what we did – the beginnings of a living fence made with a compact row of 140 tree seedlings planted between the soccer field and the garden, along all 70 meters of the space.
One of the tasty contributions from Blitzers.. “Carrot in the dirt” muffins! Mmm chocolate dirt…
Making a no-dig potato patch – thick layers of newspaper, followed by some blood-and-bone. Ontop will go mulch, seed potatoes, then more mulch. Simple yet effective.
No-dig potato patch all done. Be careful not to water it till the first green tips come through the mulch!
We constructed a series of new beds for the community garden to plant out. We mapped them out (double-reach beds), dug out and overturned the soil from the paths onto the beds, added a little lime followed by a barrier of newspaper to kill any grass shoots that germinate…
Both beds and paths now very well covered in newspaper. Now ontop goes great piles of horse-bedding mulch (pea straw with fresh horse poo and urine it it) which will need to sit for 6 weeks to compost down for safety.
New no-dig raised beds are now finished, complete with woodchip paths. In 6 weeks they will be ready to plant whatever the community garden chooses as their early spring delights.
Paul the master worm-wrangler provided worm-farming workshops as they installed the funky new bathtub wormfarm.
Digging a hole for the new self-pollinating cherry tree
Planting fruiting vines along the back fence, warmed by the north-facing wall: passionfruit, kiwi, grape and hardenbergia. The public access lane just behind the fence is going to be Alexandria’s favourite fast-food outlet by next year, with all these tasty treats dripping from the fence!
Our bub Ashar planting some of the hardenbergia along the fence, to act as both general bee forage and also nitrogen-fixer for the male + female kiwifruits on either side.
Mid afternoon. Getting there.
And finally by days end, all done and dusted. We all smelt a bit horsey and most of us were aching in places we didn’t know we had, but it was worth it. An amazing day. Big thanks to everyone who came, and also all those who contributed.
If you want to go along and experience the fire and the fury that is a Permablitz, you can (and should!). In Australia get in touch with either Melbourne or Sydney Permablitz crews, or join Permablitz on Facebook. If you’re further afield, contact one of these crews about starting up your own Permablitz network – they’ll be happy to help.
Special thanks to Jo Fletcher of Connect Redfern for her ongoing enthusiasim, Maria Grunder from Alexandria Park Community Garden, Jess Miller from Sydney Permablitz, Dan + Adam from Melbourne Permablitz for starting the whole thing, LoveGrub for the delish lunch and Adam Kennedy, Milkwood Permaculture intern extrodinare. And thanks to all the Surry Hills police horses for pooing so much in all that pea straw – you made a hot mulch which will soon become some amazing vegetables for the community.