Rachel & Kaine Smith from Katikati had two blitzes….check out the progress!
We recently visited Rachel & Kaines permaculture garden which was developed over two Permablitz’s, the first in September 2012 (permablitz #6) and the second September 2013 (permablitz #13). The site was a large town garden with a mature orange tree centred on the back lawn. The family are a busy couple with two young boys, Ollie and Finn, so Rachel & Kaine wanted a garden that would grow with their family’s needs.
The design included an enlarged deck off their kitchen with raised wicking beds close at hand.
An existing area of pebble was gathered up and reused in the bottom of the wicking beds.
The children love to climb and play around the orange tree so an area of mulch was spread beneath and around the tree, to allow some productive under-planting.
Two existing raised vegetable gardens, much further away from the house, were also converted into wicking beds and filled with compost. The compost bin system was improved and many fruit trees were sited around the garden, including several espaliered pip fruit along the north facing fence.
The fruit tree area near the road was planted with Feijoas, a dwarf Peach, Lemonade and Mandarin. These were thoroughly mulched in the second blitz and inter-planted with other beneficial plants; several Gooseberries, Guava and wayward herbs such as Bergamot, Lemon Balm, Calendula, Marjoram & Nasturtium. A Lemon tree was planted opposite the front door so they can just pop out the door when they need a lemon.
On visiting recently, Rachel took great delight in showing me around her garden. Her enthusiasm was palpable and mirrored by her children who had been very involved in the blitzes right from the start.
The wicking beds near the house have been a great success, the far one now used for strawberries, the closer two connected with a plank off the deck for super- efficient harvesting. The only glitch has been with the nearest bed which was installed slightly off level, making the top end a lot drier than the bottom end. It has meant choosing hardier, drought tolerant plants for the dry end, so herbs have worked well here. They need watering once a week over summer which could have been reduced if they had been constructed a little deeper but overall the wicking beds have been very worthwhile.
The two older beds in the far corner are a lot more productive now also with a reliable water supply from the wicking system which hardly ever needs filling. They are used for longer term vegetables that don’t need regular tending.
The area adjacent is used to store materials such as horse, cow and chicken manure, seaweed, mulch, sawdust, grass clippings, (green waste for nitrogen and browns for carbon). These are added in layers to build a compost in the wicking beds when the soil is replaced once a year.
The area beneath the Orange tree is still used a lot by the boys so any planting here will have to wait. It proved too shady for Pumpkins but we have recommended trying Native Spinach as this should thrive in the dry semi-shade.
Of the espaliered fruit trees on a north facing fence the Apples have been really productive already but the Pear has yet to flower. Rachel plans to interplant with a Nashi Pear as well.
Rachel said “I knew nothing about gardening when we bought this property and I learnt largely by trial and error until getting involved in the Permablitz’s. I have learnt so much”.
Kaine said “The Permablitz’s were a positive experience. Being a kindergarten teacher the importance of our children seeing and being involved in the whole thing taking shape has been really important”.
If the sheer enthusiasm of this family is anything to go by the Permablitz programme has been very worthwhile for them. They have enriched their living environment by not only providing healthy organic food for the family but also by creating a depth of experience for their children within their property that is educational and fulfilling, and full of discoveries.
Written by Trish Waugh, June 2016