We called an armistice with the sky while we dropped shovels for lunch. The Blitzers made use of the newly constructed garden walls to gather around while we explained the design.
The raised earthbag garden beds form our Zone 1, the part of the garden we visit everyday. We were inspired by one of our Permaculture tutors who shared his garden responsibilities with his housemates by allocating each one a plot and a plant family to look after. This was so very appealing after oh so many days last year where we were late to work trying to get everything watered and sheltered in preparation for a particularly brutally hot day. So the annual beds are divided into four for a four year crop rotation so each housemate has a little piece of land all of their own and are assured of the purity of their seed saving (no more fights over contaminated brassica seeds, haha no we really are more civilised than that). Everyone seems pretty keen to get involved, even our housemates who have never grown a lettuce before (let’s home Melbourne’s climate is kind to them, she can be cruel).
The two “ribbons” of beds are thread so there is a path around the edge for a quick sandwich harvest before work with a more direct root down the centre to the woodpile/worm farm. The bags are at two different seating heights so kids, giants and the vertically challenged alike can find a nice sheltered place to soak in the sun or have a chat. The earth oven is the highlight of Zone 1, but will have to wait until after the Blitz to roar into life, as the rain just won’t let us make the sand mould! It is sheltered from the ghastly flats next door by the big tree, which brings us to Zone 2.
Despite the shade we are trying our best to grow a Food Forest to the West to block out the overlookers with Avocados and Tagasaste. Only time will tell how successful we can be. The Orchard to the east is where we will grow crops like corn between espalier trees, and maybe even our dream of a banana. (It can be done in Melbourne!) In summer the chooks, on the border of Zone 1 and 2 will doze in the shade of the shed and in winter when it is colder they will free range through the orchard after the corn has been harvested and reinvigerate the earth. And so that is how we have tried to make each area have multiple uses: the annual garden beds/seating & entertaining area, the food forest/neighbour shade and the orchard/chicken range.
And so the Blitzers went back to work, so keen that many stayed well after wrap up time and could’nt be pried from earthbag or rendering glove until after 6. The children in particular were so full of beans that when an exhausted father asked hopefully if they were ready to go they answered a definitive “NO” and he trudged defeated to the couch for a nap. As people started drifting away the transformation truely sunk in, it had taken us weeks to build the first two beds and in only a day the Blitzers had almost finished the remaining two, plus the posts in the orchard, a wicking bed and some rendering to top it all off.