The saying goes that in every cloud there is a silver lining and that could not be more true with the COVID19 shutdown. Whilst the virus and its associated closures hit the business of Mt Barney Lodge particularly hard the silver lining was Innes having the time, and thought space, to redesign and build the permaculture garden as we have wanted for many years.
The original mandala garden taken from Linda Woodrow’s book with 6 circular gardens and a chook tractor that rotated around these beds had been fallow for approximately 5 years and there were two choices. Revamp the original design or start all over again. It was one of those projects that needed a week of time devoted to it, and it was also low enough on the priority list that it always got bumped… Much to Tracey’s chagrin.
We chose to start again and with COVID closure the time and space materialised and the design brief for the first bed was simple.
- Protection from birds and moths in the form of some sort of netting. (previous broccoli crops disappearing in one day to bower bird predators)
- Long and narrow facing garden for easy access
- High at the back and low at the front so regular access plants could be at the front and pick-once plants could be at the back (the pick-once plants also tend to be larger in size so the height works there as well).
- North facing
- Tractor access to allow for ease of gardening
- No new materials only what we had onsite (unless absolutely necessary)
For two days Innes, Tracey and Connor removed the previous rock borders and bucketed all the soil into a pile to clear the way for the new build. Then came the fun of the actual design. There were many angles in play with a sloping land form, a sloping face and an inconsistent slope… and the building process reflected this with many pauses as the next issue was brainstormed to develop a unique solution.
By no means was the build a smooth sailing affair but we only had a couple of brief “The Block” style meltdowns before consensus was reached at each stage. Connor learnt some new skills (and then became chief builder of phase two, which he is proud of and Innes is also pretty proud of), Tracey has the garden that she can be proud of and Mt Barney Lodge is now back to being able to supplement its catering with produce from their gardens.
As the photos show it is now in full production and each day we eat a variety of spinach, pak choy, bok choy, tat soi, mixed asian greens and spinach leaves in our lunch and dinner, but are still waiting on the broccoli and cauliflower to fully develop. Tracey is also starting to prepare the second planting with a round of seeds germinating, ready to be planted once round one dies off.
Make sure you visit the new permaculture garden when you next stay with us to get some ideas for your own backyard. 🙂