Report on Permablitz #29 – Urban overhaul

Permablitz #29: Maria’s Place  – July 25th, 2020

It was a very exciting moment for everyone to be back at a new Permablitz after a break away!

Maria, William (Maria’s Son) and Katie (William’s partner) welcomed us onto the site, a beautiful urban property in Tauranga, Otumoetai. The weather was perfect for a day of fun and hard work to transform Maria’s garden; which originally was made of grass, paving stones, a couple of hedges and a garden bed.

Maria decided to transform her garden in to an Edible Paradise to become more resilient. After the lockdown period a lot of people realised that they could be providing more of their own food from their land, Maria is one of them, she was convinced before but even more after going through that experience.

Maria, William and Katie had done a big job preparing the property for the permablitz, they pulled all the paving stones out, the grass, the pre existing garden bed as well as all the hedges, just a few trees were left on the day. 

Tess played her Magic to make a permaculture design to allow Maria to grow as much food as possible from her land, Marco built four wicking bed frames in the garden ready to be filled. A wicking bed is a garden bed with a waterproof lining that holds a reservoir of water at the bottom from which water is drawn upwards like a wick to the surface of the bed via natural soil osmosis or through the roots of plants in the bed. After a little warm up loading Marco’s trailer with the grass and shrubs (the pile that’s Maria, William and Katie did pre-blitz) we had a nice cup of tea and lovely muffin made by Katie.

We started the day with a welcome circle of sharing the design and sharing our skills with each other.

Maria welcomed us and thanked us for being part of the day.

Then Tess presented to everyone Maria’s Guiding statement and wish list, a map of the property with what is staying and the different areas of the design…our mission for the day.

We had 4 different zones to work on:

-Wicking beds led by Marco
-Fruit trees and theirs Guilds led by Kylie
-Berry and Medicinal plants area led by Carol
-Pathways area led by Byron

Marco did a mini workshop on Wicking Beds, everyone was really keen and happy to know more about them and how they work.

Everyone went straight to work and got stuck in, in groups of 2-4.

Making decisions around the Berry and Medicinal plant area. 

Mike and Byron making plans on the pathways.

The 1st zone of Fruit trees is taking shape. 

Martin, busy loading and unloading wheelbarrows of stones to help create the reservoir at the bottom of the wicking beds.

Path in progress between the wicking beds, Byron very focused! It has to be level.

Mike and Tess are starting the pebble pathway to create access to the garden from the house. 

Work in progress by Kylie and Tom in the fruit Tree area.

And now lots of lovely plants are going to cover the soil under the fig tree (preexistent), the new plum tree and the blackcurrant to create a guild (a beneficial grouping of plants that support one another in all their many functions).

And more and more wheelbarrows to fill those wicking beds, after the stone layer a geotextile fabric layer is added to avoid the soil mixing with the stone.

For lunch, Maria and Katie made us some beautiful pumpkin soup, a fresh salad and some homemade bread. 

While we were having a piece of pie, Byron talked about a subject he is passionate about: food forests – the different levels of a forest that create an ecosystem, rich healthy soil and diversity. Thanks Byron for sharing your knowledge, it was very interesting.

Back to work, a nice layer of mulch to cover the soil around the new plants.

Marco is making sure that the wicking beds are going to be nice and strong for the years to come.

Carol and Katie are happy to be able to start planting in the wicking beds, it looks amazing and the height of the wicking bed makes it easier to plant and will be comfortable to harvest food. It was these reasons that Maria wished to have wicking beds (and the fact her soil was super sandy, and she likes to go on holiday and the wicking beds can self water for 1-2 weeks in the Summer). 

More edible trees are getting planted, feijoas and pear and apple trees – which will be espaliered.

Last wicking bed in progress.

The raspberry plants and the trellis to support them while they grow.

The pile is going down, well done for your hard work guys what a team! The space is nearly ready to plant more trees and plants.

 Marco tracing the curve between the pebble and growing area to keep them on the path, it is looking amazing and easy to use. 

More fun creating curves and a new space to plant more food.

Planting, planting, planting, citrus this time, and lots of beneficial edible plants to cover the soil, it is looking amazing, nearly the end of the day.

The photo says it all – everyone is very proud of the hard work they have accomplished. Maria, William and Katie are delighted about the result. The power of people is amazing and it was so rewarding to be part of that day to transform a garden into an abundant, visually beautiful backyard – full of food, herbs, medicinal plants, berries and flowers.