We have long been inspired by the two-volume classic permaculture text Edible Forest Gardens. We don't know of a more thorough treatment of the design process, and when we come up against a quandary or question in our own design practice, the chances are this book explores it. In fact, there is probably no work we refer to more in our teaching.
So imagine how delighted we are that our friends at Milkwood Permaculture have secured an Australian visit by lead author Dave Jacke! What is more, Dave is coming to Melbourne, where he will give both a two-day workshop entitled Gardening Like the Forest: Fundamentals of Ecological Gardening March 9 & 10 and a talk on the same topic the evening of March 8th. Note that we made a mistake in our January newsletter in thinking the two-day workshop was full - it's not!
If you are interested in permaculture design generally and edible forest gardening in particular, then this is not an opportunity to miss.
To get you started this January, VEG is offering with any new VEG Chook House purchase, three laying hens and a bag of organic feed - on the (chook) house!
A few of the girls (more photos at bottom of page)...
Here’s the deal:
- One hen (to add to an existing flock, as they must have company) $7.50
- Two hens $14
- Three hens $20
- Four hens $25
- Five hens $30
Also available is a small mountain of freshly milled, Certified Organic Chicken Feed, in 20kg bags, to take with the hens, or to keep your own existing hens happy. Finally an organic feed souced from within VIC & Southern NSW, and not QLD, yay!
Retails at $25/bag, or:
- One bag $24
- Two or more bags $22 each
- Buying hens, and feed, bags at $22 each
In about August 2012 we completed a permaculture design for Adrienne who live with her family in Dingley Village, Melbourne. Adrienne was keen to get seriously edible and wanted muchos veggie production, fruit trees, a rain-water harvesting & distribution system, a grey water system, and quite a bit else. Here's the design we came up with for her decidedly un-rectangular block (the dotted lines are the neighbour's houses):
Adrienne loved the design and was keen to make to more than a pretty picture, so in December 2012 we got to work! Step one was some arborist work (thanks Will!) to open things up and create more sunlight for the fruit trees. Step two was a 9,860 litre steel water tank installed on a concrete slab and hooked up to supply the house toilet and the gardens.
We then formed up the five 40-cm high rough-sawn VEG Beds (four standard rectangles, one custom shape to fit the interesting property shape)...
...before removing as much couch grass as possible, then bringing in seven cubic metres of rich woody compost to give the very sandy soil a big push in the right direction...
...coated with woodchips grown on site and left for us by the arborists....
We then mulched the VEG beds...
And planted them out...
Then popped in the fruit trees and their laundry-powered greywater irrigation system.
and here's a youtube clip of the project as we left it in 2012, and we are much looking forward to returning and helping Adrienne along on her edible journey in 2013!
December 19 & 20 we completed our last implementation job for 2012 and morale was most high as we walked away after a wonderful year and a huge final week. Here's a clip about the job...
...and here's the Northcote clay we had to deal with!
...and here's us closing the roller door on the last job for 2012!
Dan popped into Mel's edible garden in Seddon on Thursday to complete a little irrigation job before christmas. Over the years we've helped Mel out with her mini-food forest design, roughsawn VEG beds, and an irrigation system. If you watch the clip below you'll see why Dan was blown away by all the growth and production. Serious amounts of fruit in particular, including grapes, apricots, nectarines, peaches, apples, strawberry guavas, chilean guavas, feijoas, and much more. I mean check out these grapes!
Mel is an inspiration doing so much with a small space and with a busy family life to manage too, not to mention all her community work with Permaculture out West amongst lots of other good stuff. Good on you Mel - you rock! (Note that the rabbit was supposed to show us around but got stage fright - thanks for stepping in Mel...)
We shared some vids and photos of Sue's small inner-city courtyard makeover we've been working in in Richmond here about 6 weeks back. From bare concrete we've helped Sue with a vegetable and fruit garden that we visited again a few days back. The growth is amazing as you can see in these photos. Sue is a novice gardener and was so proud to say that "nothing has died," under her close mothering. Chekc out the corn in this raised bed!
Here's a double-planted peach & nectarine in a custom pot we had made then put on on wheels...
The mini-food forest establishing itself...
And Sue now has an automatic irrigation system that will keep her new babies thriving through her summer holidays even when she's away...
And some other shots taken around the garden...
When Dan, Amanda & Ciela moved house recently, they had a beautiful big tamarillo tree that some friends were interested in. So we gave it a hard prune and had a go at transplanting it....
We used a rug to maintain as much soil as possible around the root ball...
Popped it on a ute, and about two weeks later received this picture of the new owners enjoying the first fruit during a festive tamarillo tasting ceremony. Hoorah! Long may it bear delicious red tamarillos.
On that really, really hot day recently Dan and Will pushed forward and got this standard VEG Chook System (small house, standard strawyard) in - great to be developing our workflow and systems to make things happen faster without compromising quality. Luckily we were in the shade of a large ornamental pear (so yes I guess they do have their place) and we drank water non-stop otherwise we'd have been frizzled.
Yesterday morning Dan had the honour of facilitating a second mass VEG-style wicking bed installation in conjunction with Maribyrnong City Council. Last time we hit Pitt St in Footscray, this time nearby Eldridge st was our target. What a wonderful morning - the thunder storm held off and by the end it was sunny. In about four hours about 15 keen street residents with help from VEG's Dan & Sarah from council had another five wicking beds up and running on the kerb. Each bed will be managed by a family with several shared beds being managed in partnership.
The nearest water tap we could access was about 180 metres away but luckily Dan had a huge roll of pipe we used to span the distance. There was much running back and forward to get it working but we prevailed in the end!
During the morning heaps of street residents came for a sticky-beak or to get involved, with a huge diversity of ages & cultures - always nice to see some beautiful saris in the mix!
I tell you - if you have to work on a Saturday, getting to do something like this is a blessing - it is so much fun it doesn't feel like work at all! We had some sand, pea-gravel and soil left over at the end which we were able to take to a community garden in a nearby church in Ascot Vale where street resident Ben (smiling chap in blue shirt on the right above) runs a youth community gardening class. This wicking bed in public spaces thing is a pilot project and if successful the council may well roll out more - if you live in Maribyrnong and are interested - track down Jennifer Witheridge at council to ask for more information
Now this is a little removed from a backyard veggie patch, but we do small-scale-rural design too, and last week Dan was consulting on a small acreage in Hurstbridge when the landscape gave him three independent thumbs ups as to where to site a small earth dam on the property. See him walk and talk through them here:
Dan had a fun morning helping Maribyrnong council with a community wicking bed garden install a few weekends back. We had a machine planned to help unload the beds from the truck, but it was late, and we had to resort to a couple of long lengths of cypress Dan luckily had in reserve on the VEGmobile. With about 10 residents and sundry from a quiet Footscray street we set up ten VEG-style wicking beds in an unused block, each one to be looked after by a street on the household. Thanks to Jennifer for organising, Anthony our dingo man for doing what he does, and all the residents who after a quick demo were pumping out wicking beds as good if not better that what we can!