July 25, 2019
Our Permablitz Project
As part of our weekly mindfulness sessions, our team were recently taken on a guided expedition into the incredible world of permaculture,
We had a small garden behind our office that fell victim to local fauna - bandicoots and bush turkey were among known assailants 🦃
Being smitten with all things sustainable, we decided to create a small garden integrating permaculture design principles so it would be naturally protected from would-be intruders.
Over 3 mindfulness sessions, Jyoti our Sustainability Officer, and Danie from One People One Earth introduced us to the wonderful world of Permaculture.
Week 1. The Basics!
Jyoti ran us through the basics of permaculture, so that we could gain an understanding of the key principles behind the garden design Danie would assist us with in the coming weeks.
Permaculture is a design system for ecological and sustainable living; integrating plants, animals, buildings, people and community.
It’s all about observing and mimicking the natural patterns and relationships at work in nature.
Permaculture systems meet human needs whilst enhancing biodiversity and reducing our impact on the planet.
A few of the key principles are as follows:
🍃 Catch and Store Energy.
Permaculture designed systems collect resources when they’re abundant so they can be used when needed.
A good example is a worm farm, which catches latent energy in food scraps which the worms then process into nutrients for the garden soil.
🍃 Use Edges and Value The Marginal.
These are often the most valuable, diverse and productive areas of the system.
This principle also refers to valuing all things on the margins, including people and ideas.
🍃Produce No Waste.
By valuing and making use of all the resources at our disposal, we can create a closed loop system.
Everything that dies, falls, or goes uneaten is simply returned to the system.
🍃Integrate Rather than Segregate.
The relationships between things are just as important as the things themselves.
Companion planting is a great example of this, where species are thoughtfully positioned to be mutually beneficial to each other (and the system at large).
Week 2. Permaculture’s Hot Right Now!
The wonderful Danie ran the hot composting workshop.
She taught us a little of the theory behind hot composting, and then we put it into practice in our back garden.
Cold composting takes 6-12 months, whereas hot composting delivers nutrient rich goodness to your garden after just 18 days or so.
This is due to the method and recipe which optimises microbial activity within the compost pile.
🌱 Step 1: Size and Placement.
In general, bigger is better, as a smaller pile won’t heat up sufficiently.
1.2 meters by 1.2 meters will be large enough, yet still manageable for small outdoor spaces.
The compost should be in full sun if possible, as any shade will cool it down and slow the process.
You can simply pile up at the compost, or build a basic frame using chicken wire or recycled pallets.
🌱 Step 2: Ingredients.
When it comes to hot composting, it’s all about the ratio.
You’ll need a large amount of organic matter; 30 parts carbon to one part nitrogen.
It’s important to get the ratio right from the start so that it heats up sufficiently.
Make ingredient gathering a community affair! We hit up Bunnings, Santos, a local farm and our homes and office.
We had a great time raiding our office, homes, local farms and businesses for the following ingredients:
Wood chips from Bunnings.
Boxes from our warehouse.
Dry leaves from around our building and our homes/
Straw from a farm in Mullumbimby.
🥬 Nitrogen-Rich Ingredients
Mulch from Bunnings.
Chicken manure from a farm in Mullumbimby.
Food scraps from Santos.
Grass clippings from our homes.
Ground coffee and teabags from our homes.
💚 The Recipe:
Layer green - nitrogen rich (weeds, lawn clippings) 15cm
Layer food scraps - nitrogen rich (from Santos) 5cm
Layer brown - carbon rich (cardboard, leaves, wood chips from Bunnings) 20cm
Layer manure - nitrogen rich (chicken manure from a farm in Mullumbimby) 15cm
Layer brown - carbon rich (cardboard, leaves, wood chips) 5cm
We garnished with seaweed and mycelium to provide diversity.
🌱 Step 3: Pile It Up.
All ingredients should be mixed evenly, piled up, then evenly moistened with water.
🌱 Step 4: Monitor and Turn.
Over the following weeks, our team took turns turning the compost daily and monitoring its temperature -
the ideal range is between 60 and 65 degrees.
Within that range, pathogens are destroyed while beneficial micro-organisms remain unharmed.
Soil temperature is tested using a soil thermometer. Add more nitrogen to increase the heat and more carbon to reduce the heat when turning.
Turning the pile aerates it, kick starting microbial activity. Moisture is equally essential.
The pile should feel like a well-wrung sponge. If it’s too dry, water it with a hose, making holes to ensure water penetrates.
If it’s too wet, stir through a high carbon material to soak up the moisture.
🌱 After three weeks or so of this = wala!
Dark brown, crumply, nutrient-dense compost to add to our garden 🙌
Week 3. Blitzful Backyard
Danie came in to impart further perma-wisdom, this time in the form of a permablitz!
A permablitz can be defined as the creation of a permaculture garden over the course of a day, resulting in the transformation of the space and giving it new, edible life.
Danie ran us through the garden’s design and the reasons behind it.
The garden promotes zero waste and sustainability by utilising kitchen waste in our worm farm and selecting herbs and greens we can make tea from and eat for our lunches.
In line with the key principle of being in harmony with the natural ecosystems,
we planted lavender as a natural mosquito 🦟 repellent so that we can enjoy the garden space and marigolds to attract beneficial insects.
The permaculture mindfulness series was incredibly enriching to our hearts as well as our soil!
Permaculture’s goal of increasing food self-sufficiency is an exciting antidote to the destructive impact of increasing food transport distances on our planet, community and physical health.
Its principles are designed to enhance our lives as well as our garden beds, and we are so excited to continue on our permaculture journey as an office and in our personal lives.
A huge thanks to Danie and Jyoti for sharing their earthy wisdom!
If you or your business are in the market for Permaculture workshops and design know-how, get in touch with Danie Maree Patteson at firstname.lastname@example.org.