An energetic group of 22 people came together on Saturday 10th October to blitz a suburban backyard in Brookfield, Tauranga.
Host Sharon created the design for her PDC with Plenty Permaculture and this was implementation day!
The main task of the day was to create a series of small-scale infiltration swales on contour with vegetable beds in between. This will take advantage of the gentle slope of the property to harvest rainwater runoff.
The swales were lined with tree branches, mulch and sawdust, which will act like a sponge during heavy rain, then will slowly release moisture to the vegetable beds. The swales also function as pathways between the beds.
The vegetable beds were prepared by double-digging and adding amendments such as inoculated biochar, vermicast, Nature’s Garden and compost.
The vegetable growing area will be divided into two parts: a perennial vegetable polyculture, which will be self-sustaining once established; and annual vegetable beds which will be managed using biointensive methods.
Three interactive workshops were run to give everyone some fun, hands-on learning opportunities. Leo did a compost making workshop which resulted in a magnificent compost heap; Brad demonstrated double-digging and had his group powering through the vegetable beds; and Christine led a willow weaving workshop which resulted in a cute and rustic raised bed border (to be finished by host Sharon later).
The lunch of chickpea and pumpkin tagine, arabesque lentils, salads, roasted chicken, lemon and coconut balls, chocolate chip slice and fruit cake was lovingly assembled by our generous hosts.
As we were munching dessert, Gisella gave us a fabulous introduction to biodynamic gardening. We learned that biodynamic gardening always starts with applying a preparation called 500. It’s an involved process to make it, using cow horns packed with cow manure and buried in the ground. However you can purchase it through the NZ Biodynamic Association at a very low cost per acre. A few of the group decided to try it, so we put in our order with Gisella and will meet up in a couple of weeks when the moon is in the right phase to have a strong arm stirring party (500 needs to be stirred for an hour to activate it).
Facilitators Trish and Leo kept things running smoothly and it was a fun and productive day with amazing results!