Our front garden used to be just lawn. Then it became lawn with some chickens on it. Now it has become a permaculture garden! We have a herb garden, six circular vege beds, and the design includes lots of fruit trees, blueberry bushes and strawberry plants. It is all looking a bit brown at the moment, with a lot of mulch, but in summer it will be beautifully colourful, full of greenery and flowers.
Making this garden would have been a LOT of work to do on our own. But we didn't do it on our own! We had lots and lots of help. The best part about the garden is not how it looks (although it really looks lovely), or how it will develop as the plants grow and as we add to the planting, or that is going to help feed our family. The best part about the garden is how it was built.
The whole garden was built over two days (on consecutive weekends). We were the hosts for a permablitz. This meant that a lot of like-minded people - most of whom we had never met - turned up with their garden tools and helped install the garden. It was so much fun, despite the fact that we had frequent rain showers on the first day, which sent people running for cover from time to time. It was certainly an amazing example of what people can do collectively - and of how great it is to be part of a community. We really enjoyed meeting all the volunteers and are really looking forward to future permablitzes, when we get to help make someone else's garden.
I have a few favourite memories from the permablitz. The first one was when I was working alongside another girl, digging turf up so that we could lay down sawdust to make the paths between the garden beds. She and I looked up and everywhere we looked there were people digging. The whole front garden was a sea of soil (and mud!). She turned to me and said "it looked so nice when we arrived" and I couldn't help laughing. It was definitely a "what-have-we-done?" moment, but very funny.
Moving the chicken dome was another favourite moment. We decided it was easiest to let the chickens out, move the dome, and then herd them back in. I let the chickens out every chance I get, just for the pleasure of seeing them peck and scratch their way around the garden, so we knew they would be easy to "put away". Some of our helpers were new to chickens, however, and the chickens had a large audience and received a very big round of applause when the dome was on its new site and "the girls" all walked nicely back through the door into the dome like very well-trained chickens! Even Bella didn't make a break for continued freedom, which is what she usually does.
For me, the best moment of all was when my daughter said at the end of the day "Mum, it looks like an enchanted garden!" Her comment made all the work of preparing resources, getting up at 5.30am to cook for everyone and dealing with vast quantities of mud worth all the effort. I love the fact that she decided to add a little fairy door and pathways to the herb garden we had just planted.
The design for our garden includes a rock-lined swale, which runs like a little stream when it is raining. It flows into a fish-pond. We have re-routed the downpipe from the roof to flow into the swale, so that when it rains the water begins to flow down the little stream. We have moved all our blueberry bushes - blueberries quite like wet feet so we have placed them beside the swale so that the water will soak into the ground next to their roots.
The children enjoyed releasing the goldfish into the pond. (I am also enjoying the fact that they no longer have to live in buckets in the bathroom, where they have been since having been rescued from a pond that was removed from a neighbour's property).
This is a really lovely garden to spend time in - I'm looking forward to adding lots of flowers to the edges of the garden to draw the bees and butterflies into the garden, and to make it a beautiful place to spend time. Since the garden was built a week ago, I have already noticed how much more time the family are spending in the garden - whether it is watching the goldfish, checking for eggs, or just planning where to plant the flowers, we are all enjoying the new garden a lot. And I am looking forward to going along on the next permablitz to help someone else with their garden.
Puffin the lamb, who also volunteered on the day, checking out the bridge.
Bev, via email says ...
It all looks spectacular and will only get better!
Carolyn, Kings Seeds says ...
It is still too early to sow basil outside - basil likes the warm weather so you are better off to wait a little longer before sowing it - you could grow in inside as a microgreen now but I wouldn't plant it outside until October.
John Rowe says ...
I am not much of a gardener, but I love my tomatoes and plant basil seedlings around the tomato bases. They grow well and I have never, never had to spray for insects. Last year Kings MonteCarlo tomatoes were giving me good tomatoes into April. The plants had grown over the frame , down the other side to about half way then back up again. Just plenty of compost and some irrigation from the outlet of my lifsstyle sewage system.