Blitz blogs

Permablitz #1 - Riccardo & Sharyn's Place (July 2009)

Posted on July 9, 2009 at 12:00 AM

Who Lives Here

Sharyn, Riccardo, and Aung Si (housemate)


Aims of the Blitz

To replace the lawn and unruly shrubs with an aesthetically pleasing edible garden in the front yard


Project Details

1) Espalier fruit trees and edible hedge – along one edge of the driveway, we created a living fence of apples and pears. Along the boundary with the neighbouring property we planted a feijoa hedge with the triple function of providing privacy; wind break; and food.


2) Integrated pond and berry bog – a pond was dug out and installed at the top of a slope. When this overflows due to rain, the excess water spills into a ‘bog’ which has perforated pond liner at the bottom to still allow drainage, but slow down the water. This area is contained, consistently moist, and has more acidic soil than the rest of the garden, which are favourable conditions for growing blueberries;


3) Garden beds and path swales – after marking out the garden according to the design, we dug out paths and used the topsoil from that to make the garden beds. We used cardboard and newspaper to make a biodegradable weedmat and topped the beds up with compost for planting. Along the paths we buried timber logs recycled from the garden to create swales to slow down rain water and redirect it into the garden beds.


4) Weed barrier – periwinkle is a problem along the fenceline. The periwinkle was removed by hand and a recycled piece of colourbond fencing was fitted into a trench to prevent the regrowth invading the garden.


5) Planting – five fruit trees were planted on the day as well as numerous herbs and annual vegetables either purchased or brought along by participants


Challenges faced

1) Being the first blitz, we overestimated how many projects we should do. While we achieved them all over two days (and with a LOT of preparation behind the scenes), in future we would recommend no more than 3 large projects, with a few mini projects as back up that require minimal supervision.


2) Being host, plus an overall “Site Manager” and a “Project Leader” at the same time proved to be quite difficult. In addition to this, preparation of the meals and snacks takes quite a lot of attention from the host. We would recommend that the host only undertake one of these roles, and the other tasks are delegated to members of the design team or other willing participants.


3) We received inaccurate advice from ‘dial-before-you-dig’, which led to damage to the water main on our property. We were without water for about 3 hours, but gained an excellent plumber. Our neighbours graciously allowed us to use their outdoor tap so that we could continue working. This is one lesson as to why it is important to involve the neighbouring community.


4) Some people commented there wasn’t enough for everyone to do, but this could not be forseen due to the unprecedented interest in the first blitz. We learnt from this that the size of the Project should determine how widely it is advertised, and the host should have some back up projects for people to work on (weeding, planting, pruning). Workshops are also very good to keep people interested and occupied.


Achieved on the Day

We achieved all of our objectives over two wonderfully hectic days.


Follow Up

It has now been one full year since our blitz, in which we have observed and augmented the garden, and shared abundant produce with our very appreciative neighbours and friends. Springtime has seen many of the plants self seed, and flourish with minimal effort from us and we now intend to plant more groundcovers, and incorporate more perennial herbs and natives amongst the fruit trees and annual vegetables. Having now attended some other blitzes, we also implemented some new ideas in other parts of the yard and look forward to continually re-inventing our idea of gardening.


Link to Photo Album



Categories: Edible garden, Fruit trees

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