Like the previous time we dug up the front lawn, we had the help of a wonderful group of people, who had come together to help us get the job done. We had about 30 locals, friends, colleagues, visitors to the area and WWOOFers all turn up for a permablitz, during which we ran workshops, shared our vision for the property, provided the best lunch we could produce, and dug up the entire front lawn.
Spring has definitely arrived and our permablitz day was very warm and sunny. We started by sharing our plan for the site: the concept design included the front lawn as a perennial food forest system – our north facing sloped front lawn is an ideal sun-trap, with the house behind it giving shelter from any cold southerly winds. The soil here is very free draining, and summers are hot and dry, so one of our aims was to keep as much water on site as possible, so we dug up the storm water system and piped it through to swales dug along the contours of the site. We had designed a combined Hugelkultur Swale system, which meant that trenches were dug along the contours of the site and we buried wood in the trenches. As the buried wood eventually rots, it will act as a sponge – absorbing any rain water and storing it to sustain the fruit trees and food forest plants. The swales also function as pathways between the beds
We planted the taller fruit trees near the front fence, at the bottom of the slope, with smaller and dwarf trees nearer the house, so that we don't shade the windows and stop the sun coming into the house. Between the trees we have planted fruiting shrubs including cranberries, currant bushes, guavas and blueberries. Below that we now have lots of space to start planting flowers to support beneficial insects, and other perennial and annual food crops. The frequently harvested herbs are on the driest, sunniest spot near the path. As time goes by and the trees go, we can add more plants to help make up all the layers of the food forest.
It is so exciting to finally have somewhere to put all of our seedlings. Since the permablitz, I have had a lovely time planting out seedlings!
So far, we have added rhubarb, lettuces, cucumbers, courgettes, broccoli, leeks and lots of herbs to the garden beds. We're also keen to have lots of flowering plants to support beneficial insects, and because they are beautiful to look at. I've moved all of the plants that were languishing in pots into the garden beds and they are really enjoying having more room and a better water supply.
We've sown wild flower seeds along the beds (although the birds have been having a good time in amongst the mulch, so I hope they haven't eaten all the seeds), and have nasturtium, calendula, lupin, viola and marigold seedlings planted out.
There is a huge amount of room for more plantings, so although the whole front garden looks a bit brown at the moment with all the mulch, I know that come summer, it will be a riot of green leaves, flowers and vegetables. I've sown a lot of nasturtium, radish and lettuce seeds as well.
We've also put in a feijoa hedge (yum!), moved our mushroom logs to a shady permanent position behind the garage, and made a pretty little garden around our sleep-out. All of the plants that we moved from our old house, which have been in pots for a long time, are now planted out in the garden. The irises survived being potted up, moved, split and replanted, and they are starting to bud up and I am looking forward to seeing them flower!
After spending all day digging the swales, we couldn't resist filling them with the hose to see them filled with water!
It's so exciting to have a garden up and running again! A huge thank you to everyone who came along on the day to help!