Twelve principles for twelve months – May – Obtain a yield

My principle for this month is ‘Obtain a yield’ Also expressed as ‘make sure you are getting valuable results’ I am going to focus on two aspects of application of this principle;

1. The yield from my garden. I will be attempting to fulfil one of the SMART goals of my garden design by eating something from my garden on at least 4 days out of each week. As we are only just entering May, I expect pickings will still be quite limited for this month, but I expect to have a good supply of eggs from our hens, various salads, pea shoots, wild garlic, rhubarb, herbs and hopefully some broad beans and radish by the end of the month. There may be extra goodies from the community allotment too. I shall keep a record of what I harvest from the garden and what I cook with it. I have extended this to also include the yield of flowers. I love fresh flowers in my house and am aiming to cut a posy once a week to keep a supply of beautiful flowers without having to buy any.

2. The yield from my diploma activities, namely Muddy Boots outdoor playgroup and my involvement in the PDC. I shall be reflected on why I felt drawn to volunteer my time for these two projects and what yield this gives me.

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Reflections on April

My principle for April was ‘Integrate rather than segregate’. I found a little time to reflect on this between child wrangling and Easter egg eating! I looked into companion planting and guilds. I am working on improving the apple tree guild at the community allotment and writing up an info board to explain what plants are included and why. Quite a few of the parents who attend Muddy Boots, don’t have a clue about gardening, so I thought I would educate them! And those that do garden, well I plan to convert them to the ways of Permaculture!photo 4The apple tree guild as it looked yesterday after I weeded it to discover which plants remained after two seasons of neglect. I spotted daffodils, wild garlic, fennel and comfrey. I will be adding to this patch soon.

I started making another web of connections diagram to show good and bad companions amongst plants that I am growing. I admit to getting too busy to complete this, but here is the picture of it as a work in progress.I should have increased the size or spaced the annual vegetable tags out more, as it is rather too crowded to read with ease.

IMG_1721I am using companion plants and polycultures in my garden. I am leaving in quite a few of the more useful ‘weeds’ and lots of the volunteer plants that have self seeded into my patch. So rather than the sea of brown that I see at many allotment plots, my garden is already a riot of green growth with a wide variety of colours, leave forms and plant structures. Some will be weeded out as and when I am really to pop in seedlings, other plants will be left to grow on and put to good use in the garden or the kitchen. All ‘weeds’ are food for the chickens, so where others see a front lawn full of dandelions, I see a crop for the chickens to eat!

I have made a number of patchwork quilts for my children using fabrics from clothes they have grown out of. I thought this was a lovely way to integrate what would be wasted or passed on. It’s also lovely to look at their quilts and be reminded of them in their younger years wearing those dungarees or that pretty dress.IMG_1718

I feel I am integrating the diploma into my life rather well. I am trying to make my diploma projects be about activities that I would be doing anyway, but Permaculture is helping me to do them far more effectively. It is also giving me the confidence to do things, like managing Muddy Boots, that maybe I wouldn’t have felt brave enough to take on otherwise.

My neighbour, an elderly lady with mental health issue has had a gardener erect a 6 foot fence along the boundary of our gardens. We felt really sad about this and asked if she’d consider a lower fence and a trellis to keep the light and views from being blocked out of our garden. She said no. She has fenced in the other side too and seems to be wanting to block everyone out and alienate her neighbours. I feel sorry for her. In stark contrast to this, our neighbours the other side have great. Our kids are constantly in and out of each other’s gardens, we have put a gate between the two gardens which is always open. We all hang out together a lot. It’s a really lovely sense of community. These two stark contrasts of neighbourly relations seemed to me to highlight the importance of the principle ‘integrate rather than segregate’ and the yield you can obtain if you do so effectively.

Our chicks have hatched!

Six little bundles of fluffy yellow feathers have hatched! Not bad going really from nine eggs. The chicks all hatched within 12 hours, starting on Friday night. No late deliveries in the chicken world! They all seem to be doing well so far. The only complication is that Ethel has one chick, while Peach has five. We have put them into a coop together, as we know from experience that one chick alone does not do well. We are hoping that the hens will co-parent. Unlikely as this sounds, this happened for us last year, so fingers crossed it works out again. The kids, Joe and I have been trying our hardest to stay away and give them some peace and quiet, but they are very cute, so that is a hard task!

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Waiting……..

IMG_1603Two of our hens are currently broody and sitting on fertile (we hope) eggs. They are due to hatch on Saturday or Sunday, so we are waiting on tender hooks for the sound of cheeping! We have hatched chicks twice before, with differing degrees of luck, so we will see how it goes this year.

We brought 12 French Wheaten Maran eggs from our local farmers market. One of the eggs was rejected by the hens, one broken and one was unfortunately cracked by another inquisitive hen. So we are down to 9 eggs, 6 in one nest and 3 in the other. Our grandmother bantam Ethel is sitting one the 3, she is so tiny that she could not manage any more! Peach, a partridge Wyandotte, pictured above is responsible for the other 6. Both girls are sitting well and seem to be taking their jobs very seriously. I shall keep you posted on progress over the weekend!