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 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.
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 front garden and straw may have looked too messy perhaps.
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 pallets, plants and
some dressings like compost, sawdust, straw, charcoal and wood chips, 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 !
SEED, the organization behind the permablitz idea
We all know about home gardening. Tell us about your successes, challenges and ask about issues that bother you. You may have the luxury of a back garden, but there are other ways we learn. Few people age without growing something or buying vegetables during their lives ! It is absolutely guaranteed that you have learned things which can help others on their gardening journey.
We invite you to share your stories, ask questions, because if a thing has bothered you it will bother others too. Someone may have a solution ! No question is too small. There is learning for everyone involved, for you, for me (yes, I learn from every question), for us all. Exciting stuff !
We are starting on a new journey. Every week we will profile your letters ! The best stories and questions we receive.