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!


A few weeks ago, with the support of Shoestring Gardening and the Wyndham City Council's Growing Community program we facilitated a permaculture blitz at The Welcome Garden -- a burgeoning community garden at a new school/church, St Philips in Tarneit, just north of Werribee.  Good times were had, and much achieved!  The beautiful photos below (in reverse chronological order) by Andrea Winter can be viewed full size at

permablitz photos

permablitz photos

The VEG wicking bed we installed in the Hobson's bay council staffroom court yard had unhappy interaction with two big sharp stakes recently, so we were called in to perform a fix-it job. A few hours and a tube of silicon later, all good! Great to see how well it had and now again is working, and also to see how much the staff were actively engaging with it, harvesting lettuce for their lunch as we were working on it!

On Friday we finished another VEG Chook House and Strawyard install in Coburg.  In addition to our research and experimentation over the last seven years, we have recently had the honour of incorporating some feedback from the lovely Meg Miller, renowned chook expert and editor of the Australiasian Poultry Magazine.

Meg saw one of our small chook houses on display at the royal Melbourne show and, based on her extensive experience and knowledge, her two main suggestions were more ventilation and wider roosts.  We have since added a second ventilation shaft in the rear top of our chook houses, which in conjunction with the mesh floor and the fact that the side door into the strawyard is usually open, allows ample ventilation during those hot summer days and nights.  On real stinkers we'd recommend putting a bucket or basin of water either in the house or underneath it for the cooling effect of the evaporation. We have also increased our roost width from 4 to 6cm.  We have had some wonderful feedback lately from VEG Chook System customers and it is great to find our systems meshing beautifully with both the people and their edible gardens.

This youtube from Friday shows these features, along with our standard double-gate system, chook hatches, and pulley-hatch opener that is appropriate in some cases.  On this job the chooks moved themselves into their new digs before we actually finished building it!

This next clip, also from Friday, is of Rosalie's system in Northcote, where we are complementing her VEG Chook House & Strawyard with a chook run & gates to keep her dog separate from the chooks.  Rosalie came home recently to find one of the chooks in the dog's mouth (unharmed) so doesn't want to take any chances.  Anyways this clip shows how Rosalie is now enjoying collecting snails from her garden and feeding them into her magical contraptions (i.e., chooks) that turn them into eggs & compost (via manure)!  To paraphrase Bill Mollison, no-one ever has a snail or slug problem.  What they have is chook or duck deficiency.  If you are feeling such a deficiency in your life and garden, be in touch and we can set you up with a chook system that will work an absolute treat and last for many, many years.