doing a permablitz on the front garden

a large conifer and massive palm tree shade the front garden, william and Saudiq at the foot of the trees preparing the swale.

In the front garden, which was already quite formal and planted up with trees, only planting in between the trees, and rain runoff and a gray water swale were needed. We continue from the article on the permablitz in Nadia's back garden.

The front garden has very large old trees which dominate the garden. Cutting a trench for the swale through the thick mat of palm tree roots was time consuming. Imraan and Ebrahim worked on the water systems and I think the piping gave them unexpected trouble, but in due course everything was done.

The front of the roof took runoff into the swale, rather than leading into a storage tank. The rainwater down pipe passed through a french drain and then reached the filter filled with wood chips, where it mixes with gray water. Both exit the garden down the swale. The sink or biofilter for the gray water and rainwater was a buried plastic crate filled with wood chips. Tripods tepees of sticks were placed over the gray water sumps so that climbing plants thriving in wet conditions could grow there, and it also marks the area where kitchen waste can be dumped… supplying nutrient rich soil to the water loving heavy feeders.

the front garden's gray water filter and rain runoff are all hidden under this little wigwam

Some trees were planted in a similar sequence to the back garden, bamboo, banana and pomegranate, if I remember correctly. The smaller plants were planted in sand with some compost, then surrounded by cardboard which was later covered with sand, which was then sprinkled with the cover crop seed mix and dressed with wood chips. The beds were edged with logs and unlike the back garden were entirely mulched with composted wood chips, as it is a formal garden and straw may have looked too messy perhaps.

materials and skills

To build a full system with gray water, rain tanks, drip irrigation and so forth requires a lot of water conduits and connections. This kept Imraan quite occupied for two days, and getting the materials kept both Imraan and Saudiq quite busy. This meant that the crowd of volunteers consisting of at least ten people, as well as others such as local youngsters who dropped by and helped, that is most of the rest of us, did the other jobs, and I was really impressed with the obviouly frequently practiced process. Everyone seemed to know what to do and worked like a well oiled machine with multiple parts. The Blitz team have accumulated considerable skill and I hope they will be able to carry on with their excellent work in the future.

The team attempts to work with what is found on site, requiring quick, creative thinking on the feet from Imraan and Saudiq. The gardens are built largely by volunteers, members of SEED who have also had their gardens done.

Materials on site which were used were a concrete water container for a birdbath, at the front, an old bath, tyres, rubble, concrete vibracrete slabs, garden waste and soil at the back.

Materials needing to be bought were a rainwater tank, irrigation piping, taps and valves, PVC glue and plumbers tape, L and U bends and connectors, gutter down piping, wire and screws and eyes, wooden laths for constructing trellises, buckets, planter boxes from upcycled palets, plants and some dressings like compost, sawdust, straw, charcoal and woodchips, and dense shade net used for various purposes, such as lining the wooden planters.

Plant material from fruit trees to lettuce plugs and potted strawberries and mint were mainly raised or grown on at the SEED nursery, which has a green house and shaded growing sheds, as well as a beautiful model homestead with garden. The seeds were bought in bulk from organic seed suppliers, 

Cuttings planted directly were the rooted plant sections of yarrow, nasturtium and vetiver, and root pieces broken and poked into the soil were comfrey and stinkbos (Plectranthus, lobster bush).

Both gardens were spectacular after planting up, but the back was the most wonderful, with its oiled boxes, dark brown wood chip mulch, log edgings, pale straw in the beds, and teeny lettuce and onion seedlings peeping up everwhere in the planters. A little paradise was created and the incredible transformation was commented on by everyone, and served as a great inspirations as to what can be done.

Nadia prepared food for us on both days, tea, coffee, sandwiches, and on the second day a really delicious lentil soup with fresh granadillas and sliced fruit on the side.

I wish her so much joy from this garden, she deserves it for holding out to the last !

the plants get their share of love: a potion brewed by saudiq containing effective soil micro-organisms and charcoal.

sitemap

home page for links to a diversity of green ideas, design and inspiration

gardening and links for more information on permaculture techniques you can easily introduce to your garden

the article on the permablitz of back garden, explaining how its done

an album of pictures on the permablitz

SEED, the organization behind the permablitz idea

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