Thursday, March 17, 2011


Sunday was the day of our permablitz, and what a great success it was. The garden has been transformed. But first what is a permablitz? It's a permaculturists buzz word meaning a good old fashioned working bee. With the intent behind the hive of action of course being to establish some kind of permaculture system, in our case a food garden. Working bees are a perfect fit for the permaculture philosophy so together they do warrant a new word.

Working bees, as I have discovered, quickly establish allot more than just their initial purpose. They establish community and friendship. For me a closer stronger bond has been established with everyone who participated. These people gave up time in their busy lives to help me and my family and for that I feel a great deal of appreciation, respect, and fondness. When working with others in this way I found I learnt so much about them, far quicker than that of conversation alone. In the particular case of our garden project there were a number of challenges, that I will talk about more in coming posts. These challenges really highlighted the different strengths of the individuals and how they handled and communicated when faced with them. Also probably because of my male upbringing I found it more comfortable interacting with other men this way. As a result of this deeper personal knowledge, as with all knowledge, comes a deeper level of trust.

So what did we manage to get done in a single day? First we had to demolish the existing garden including the beds and chicken coop. Just think all those hours of hard work to go right back to the way the block was when we first purchased it.

Once we had a cleared area we had the challenge of working out the layout. The mandala design in Lind's book is larger than ours and her instructions are a bit weak particularly when it comes to scaling. Due to an awesome team we worked it out to precision. Many lessons were learnt here that deserves a blog of it's own.

Now that we had the layout a brick border was laid and the beds were prepared. Newspaper was first laid to kill the grass (fingers crossed) followed by rich soil that came from the previous beds, then a layer of horse poo, then pea straw.

Me posing for a photo. I handed the spade straight back to the real worker after. :-)

And voilĂ , a near to complete mandala garden. Even with the beginnings of a pond (hole) in the middle. In coming blogs I will talk about what inspired this design and why we chose it.

As you could see from all the photos the chickens had a wonderful time.

If I have inspired you to have your own permablitz here are a few tips:
  • Plan it well. Know what you are doing and how. It will be allot easier to manage and keep people busy if you do.
  • Have all the materials ready. This is another reason why you need to plan. We ran out of news paper and needed to get more.
  • Ask people to bring their own gardening tools. We ended up running out of spades.
  • Take care when scheduling it. One of my friends couldn't come because him and his wife had a baby, poor excuse.
  • Put on a good lunch. Workers need feeding. A special thanks goes to my teenage daughter who took care of all the catering.
If you live in Adelaide and need more help organising and hosting a permablitz I would strongly recommend contacting the people at


  1. OMG, firstly I cant believe you completely demolished your original veggie garden. That must have taken a lot of nerve, so much time and effort lost. BUT WELL DONE. you new garden looks amazing already even before any plants have been planted. I really am loving the shape of the garden bed and i am guessing it is this shape so all plants can be easily accessed. Would love to see more photos over the next coming months to see how it is developing. Secondly I think it is fantastic that almost complete strangers came to help you. Chivalry is still alive. Thirdly what an inspiration, I now want a veggie garden just like yours, chickens included. Good Job

  2. I agree, I could never dismantle mine completely after all the effort that went into it. I would definitely have a mandala though if I did, i looks fantastic, lovely bricks.

    I have often thought about a permablitz but I use so many of the principles already that I think I am ok without it. I'd love to have swales but my plot is so flat we have to pump the stormwater out to the drain.

    When we leave here when the kids are finished with their education I am hoping to buy a house with a blank canvas for a garden, or better still 10 acres!

  3. My youngest daughter cried when her tomato plants were ripped out. But sometimes loss makes way for new and greater things to be found. And thanks Greenfumb we love the bricks too. They took a bit to find but were exactly what Melanie was looking for. I was surprised I found them.

    BTW what is swales?

  4. Love that you've had the courage to wipe out and start again! The mandala is terrific.
    A swale is a permaculture term for a depression in your soul, effectively making it a water capture device. Contours your land saving rainwater from just running off and preventing soil erosion. You can also use planting even hay bales to help.
    Looking forward to seeing the evolution of your garden!

  5. It is wonderful to get such positive feedback about the mandala. And it is good to know people are interested to watch the evolution of it. Now I am blogging for a reason.

    Thanks Mrs Bok for the description of a swale. Now I understand what Greenfumb was talking about.

  6. Hi Jason, looking fabulous! Love the mandala. Keep it up! Eager to see it through to the end. Have a great week and thanks for stopping by my blog. Yollie :)

  7. Looks great, Jason. I look forward to seeing it all planted up


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