So I joined for the workshop side, but we started a mandala-style integrated vege and fruit garden eleven years ago on bare lawn, and there are still photos floating around...
In order as much as possible:
The chicken dome. They didn’t ever have much impact on the grass.
Slight setback after our first dust storm
Weeding out grass and composting
Weeding complete, path and drain construction
Paths filled with firewood waste bark, cover crops in, fenced.
Thanks for sharing @Kiwifr33. It would be interesting to see how the garden is going 11 years on. I hope you have garnered a lot of produce from it over the years.
A couple of years in, mulching heavily and chickens keep coming back over the main beds.
The 'edge guild' in the foreground: herbs and groundcovers to keep the real weeds out. Chickweed goes great in a salad. Our breakthrough was finding the book, 'Edible Weeds of Melbourne'. If you can pick it and eat it, you don't have to pull it out...
Don't underestimate the difference between dirt and soil. What you are looking at is the result of a symbiotic web of fungi, bacteria, micro- and macro-organisms. And of course, chicken manure, deposited and sheet-composted by the birds themselves.
The central habitat pond, ready for lining and filling. It got topped with a sheet of reinforcing mesh, which is about 2cm below the surface when the pond is dead full. Good for the kids, didn't have to fence it separately and they could reach through the mesh and catch tadpoles without ever being able to fall in.
Prepping for soil. It’s all on nasty granitic clay / sand / gravel. Basically really old turned over tailings - you can’t dig, you have to use a wrecking bar and then scoop it out.
Now. Had a big score about 15 months ago - our uphill neighbours are tropical fish farmers and need to discharge in excess of 5Kl of water per day. Pre-fertilised, and via hose so we can put it wherever we want it. We have a system of swales on contour that was originally to catch storm water: now it holds this water and soaks it in.
Couldn’t agree more @MartyH, the water came just at the right time.
A swale is a ditch and berm arrangement - pile what you dig out on the downhill side. The contour part is the most important, you can make your own landscaping levels to make sure the bottom of your swale is pretty much level. Google 'a frame level', or our favourite, because you can use it to level across wider areas or to make a particular 'fall', is the 'bunyip' water level. Used to bring storm water off the roadside at 1:100, dodging the big gums in between. Hours of fun...
There is a great book that my wife studied extensively before breaking out the shovel, https://www.bookdepository.com/Rainwater-Harvesting-for-Drylands-Beyond-2-Brad-Lancaster/97809772464... Your local library may well have it if you’re lucky, but if you’re short on water it’s worth $46...
Make sure you get volume II as it has all the goodies about constructing earthworks. The first one is all the principles and can basically be summed up as 'catch as much as you can, as many times as you can' and 'the cheapest place to store water is in the soil.'
Below is basically standing on the swale bank. The water 'plumes' underneath the soil, kind of in a teardrop / lens shape. We know it’s wet enough when it soaks out through the slope of the driveway,then we move the hose on.