Monday, April 26, 2010

Permablitz in action

Got an area of your landscape you need to transform from pointless to productive? Have you considered a Permablitz? This weekend, we held a Permablitz hands-on permaculture workshop at our house in Oklahoma City. Working together, in one day we transformed a 300 square foot Bermuda / mud / weed strip between driveways into a front-yard edible landscape with three fruit trees, culinary and medicinal herbs, edible perennial flowers, and "crop circles" (miniature raised beds made of old bricks) that will hold annual vegetables like watermelons and winter squash.

The idea for the project came from three problems I was encountering: no more space for fruit trees, no more space for rambling squash / melon vines, and a weedy, muddy area that served no purpose in our front yard. That strip between driveways required mowing and edging, but we got no enjoyment from it. It was also difficult to deal with (and presented some design challenges) since it was not near an outlet or a faucet, but was near a narrow strip where we keep our trashcans on the way to our only backyard gate. I think of the site as embodying the permaculture principle "Value the marginal" - because it borders two properties and is quite narrow, and previously, got no love at all.

Although I'm by no means a permaculture designer, and don't have a permaculture design certificate, I tried to design the area using permaculture techniques and principles from Gaia's Garden, by Toby Hemenway, and then consulted with Randy Marks of Land+Form sustainable land design for feedback. I selected mostly perennial plants with multiple functions and designed the area to serve many purposes. Eventually, the landscape will yield over 100 pounds of fruit, shade our driveway, channel runoff from our roof into an irrigation stream, provide beautiful flowers, and serve as a showcase for front-yard gardening/edible landscaping.

On Saturday, thirteen motivated people came to learn, share food and ideas, and work on the 'Blitz, which was led by Randy and benefited Transition Town OKC and Sustainable OKC. The group really put a lot of effort and care into the project. Our efforts were rewarded at the end - as we sat in the garage and shared apricot beer brewed by my husband, a downpour began and we got to watch the swale-stream in action. Thanks to everyone who worked so hard!



9 comments:

Sharlene T. said...

The great thing is that I can do this where I live, but I have lots of friends who are NOT allowed to put anything edible in their front yards by their homeowner's associations. Ridiculous, but true. Not even those beautiful cabbages! One step at a time...one step at a time...You're doing a great job. Thanks for sharing and giving of your time.

baloghblog said...

Great job and great pics! What fruit trees did you put in?

Peak Oil Hausfrau said...

Nikita's Gift Persimmon, Granny Smith apple, Bada Bing cherry (all self-fertile).

Tricia said...

Heck yeah! That rocks! I bet you are so thrilled! And apricot brew... why didn't I sign up? Silly, silly me.

Wendy said...

That looks so awesome! Thank you so much for sharing the pictures of this great project. It's inspiring to see the possibilities ... and how beautiful permaculture vs. non-edible "landscaping" can be.

@ Sharlene, it's too bad about your friends. That's just awful. Can they do "no" edible plants - even things like herbs or Jerusalem Artichokes (a.k.a. sunchokes), which are perennials that look like sunflowers, but the tubers are edible?

StarWin said...

Wow ! I'm going to have my first TT initiative. And you are the inspiration. Stanley Ravi - Bangalore. India.

Chile said...

Looks so much better than icky Bermuda! And nice to have the free labor along with fun company to do the transformation.

I assume you involved the next door neighbors in your plans. Do they like the change or just go along with your 'crazy' ideas? ;-)

Peak Oil Hausfrau said...

Chile - yes, we consulted with our next door neighbor first since she owned about six inches of the strip. She was concerned we were going to plant big trees that would crack the pavement, so we assured her ours were small trees.

Everybody seems to think it's beautiful. It actually looks a bit "high end." Many expensive homes in Denver had this kind of landscaping.

sowbug said...

beautiful work. congratulations!