Subscribe to our newsletter for weekly updates

Milkwood Blog

The basecamp kitchen garden explosion

November 30, 2010 | Gardening, Vegetable Gardening | 10 comments | Author:

Putting the soil where we want it...

During the Spring Permaculture Design Certificate here at Milkwood, a funny thing happened to our basecamp garden. Somehow, it quadrupled in size. It was the most un-anticipated permablitz i have ever been a part of,  and this time (for the first time) it was at our house! Or our woolshed, to be precise.

Rosemary Morrow, the lead teacher of this PDC, had come up to me the day before and asked (in her marvelous, quiet way) if the student’s could extend our basecamp garden a bit. Of course, Rowe, I said.

The garden pre-blitz, with ferrocement garden beds in progress to left

This garden has been a funny little thing scratched out of the dirt of the paddock at the back of the woolshed – it grew up around our caravan while we were living there (see here for an early plan and explanation). As our beloved caravan has now become the kitchen for our on-farm courses and interns, the garden in time became a communal kitchen garden of sorts.

fast-paced rumination and discussion, figuring out the design

While we lived here it was just a small and scruffy thing, on rock-hard ground. But we mulched and we planted and each season built another bed here or there, and by the time the caravan was promoted to kitchen space, from small-family space, we have a good supply of greens going on, and sometimes other good things to eat as well – depending on the rain, the sheep and the kangaroos.

Re-delegating the meagre soil resources

However, now that things are starting to gather momentum around the woolshed in general, it was perfect timing to extend the garden and get some growing going on!

Beds going in, paths going in

The students from the Spring PDC did an amazing job in one afternoon (all 24 of them) – designing, gathering materials and installing a sweeping no-dig garden of potatoes, garlic and many transplants from our existing beds.

Happy gardener

The new garden leads everyone down to the outdoor classroom under the big gum tree, which also houses the ‘landscaping pit’ used for teaching hydrology and permaculture earthworks during our PDCs. The rest of the time, Ashar has claimed it as his sandpit.

Getting there!

Having this new extension to the garden has now changed how we think about this growing space – our interns designed and installed a simple drip-irrigation system, which makes it possible to expect that the vegetables will actually grow.

More layers of compost and lucerne - all coming together now

We’re now planning for next year’s Autumn PDC how we can get enough stuff growing there to supply a goodly portion of the on-farm menu. Fingers crosssed. I rekon we can do it.

Next day in the outdoor classroom at the end of the garden

Many thanks to all our fabulous PDC students from this course for your energy and your gumption. Special thanks to the entirely amazing Rosemary Morrow for her quiet knack of encouraging people to take initiative and see things through. And, as always, a special big YAY to our rockin spring intern team: Adam, Andrew, Alexe + Dave.

our kitchen garden 6 weeks later, in the summer rain.

And now, 6 weeks later, we have squash, potatoes, parseley and all sorts of other tasty morsels going crazy in this rare summer rain. Can’t wait for the harvest.


+1 0


  • Brad Bowden November 30, 2010 at 11:33 am | Reply

    Thanks for the update I was wondering how the garden was looking.
    It was such a pleasure and such fun to create the garden for you!

    1. milkwoodkirsten November 30, 2010 at 11:39 am | Reply

      Thank YOU Brad! Your effort lives on in our summer potato crop. And the garlic crop. And the squash crop. And the…

  • Patsy Moppett November 30, 2010 at 11:50 am | Reply

    Awesome result! A credit to you all!

  • Costa November 30, 2010 at 4:01 pm | Reply

    Hey Kirsten and PDC Class..

    The garden looks great.I love the use of simple on farm inputs..logs, off cuts , branches etc to make the raised garden beds…And look at how much growth you can get in such a short time.. This is the kind of example that I speak to people about all the time..Back yourself, give it a go and watch it grow, and then you’ll know. Look forward to wandering around the paths on my next visit.. x

    1. milkwoodkirsten December 1, 2010 at 11:58 am | Reply

      Thanks, Costa! Glad it meets your standards of enthusiasm ;)

  • Meg December 1, 2010 at 11:00 am | Reply

    Wow! Looks amazing! We are a pretty talented bunch….. :)

  • Stephen December 6, 2010 at 11:32 am | Reply

    Wow ! What a wonderful addition to the gardens we put in last year. And so lovely to see the greeness …. this time last year – remember ?

    1. milkwoodkirsten December 6, 2010 at 11:35 am | Reply

      yes, we remember, Stephen… green is the new brown!

  • […] The basecamp kitchen garden explosion […]

  • […] No dig gardening was brought to prominence at Milkwood by a sweet little book by Esther Dean: No Dig Gardening and Leaves of Life. We’ve been trying various versions of it ever since. […]


Blog Categories

Related Courses

Backyard Aquaponics

April 18th-19th, 2015

Sydney, 107 Rooftop Garden

Join us for a practical aquaponics workshop on how to build your own aquaponics system and produce organic, water-wise vegetables and fresh fish in your own backyard.

Serious Backyard Veggies

May 9th-10th, 2015

Sydney, Alexandria Park Community Centre

Get serious about vegetable growing in your backyard using organic, permaculture techniques. Two days full of expert knowledge about planting, growing, nutrient cycling, harvesting and integrated pest management.

Gourmet Mushroom Cultivation

May 16th-17th, 2015

Byron Bay, The Farm

Join us for two jam-packed days of hands-on skills in edible mushroom propagation. Learn how to grow delicious oyster, shiitake and many other mushrooms at home, organically!

Gourmet Mushroom Cultivation

June 6th-7th, 2015

Sydney, 107 Rooftop Garden

Join us for two jam-packed days of hands-on skills in edible mushroom propagation. Learn how to grow delicious oyster, shiitake and many other mushrooms at home, organically!