We are making a food forest!
I just love working with soil. Digging, composting, mulching and growing are pretty special activities on a sunny, cool autumn day. A little while ago I completed a Permaculture Design Course which led me to complete a design for the lovely Brewongle EEC. You can read my plans if you are interested here.
We are now beginning the journey of permaculture and putting plans into action!
Stage one for us was addressing some water catchment issues by installing a new shining water tank. This water will help irrigate the new food forest gardens throughout our harsh summer.
Stage 2 is to begin preparing the new garden beds that will eventually be a thriving food forest based around citrus and nut trees. The soil here is pretty good, but just a little sandy and lacking in organic matter. We also have some water run off problems that need to be addressed.
By creating a swale (a depression before a raised garden bed) we can capture water and deliver it to the plant roots where it is needed the most. The swales will be mulched paths between each garden bed. These swales follow the natural contours to retain water in the landscape.
We are trialling some worm towers that will deal with the plentiful amount of food scraps from visiting school groups. Using recycled plastic buckets from the local takeaway our soil will be further energised with worm compost. Place the towers in your garden, throw in a few worms and compost away! When full, pull out the bins and move to a new location. Easy!
Each bed will be layered to improve the soil. First, all the grass dug out of the swale is dumped on the bed, then a layer of wet cardboard is placed over this to suppress the weeds. The existing grass will compost down nicely under this. Then we heap oodles of smelly mushroom compost and bed it down with a blanket of sugar cane mulch. This is essentially creating a great big composting garden bed that will be bursting with organic matter, worms and nutrients by the time we plant out in a couple of months.
All this work has been made possible via a grant we received from the Primary Industries Education Foundation Australia (PIEFA). We are a now a Primezone Partner School with UWS Hawkesbury Campus and our new permaculture garden will form part of a teaching resource for stage 5 Agriculture. Stay tuned for further developments!