My garden design – Evaluation 2014

I shared one of my Permaculture designs on this blog in the spring. It was a redesign of the food growing spaces in my back garden with the aim of providing us with something to eat on four days out of each week from May till September.  Here is a reminder of how that design looked. IMG_0953

I have also been sharing my monthly garden updates to keep track of how the garden is looking and progressing throughout the year. I am now coming to the end of the growing season and have been looking back over the design and how it worked out this year. I have looked at the garden features I had planned and the foods I had planned to grow. I have done a PNI analysis. Each item has also been graded from 10-1 with 10 being best. Items scoring under 5 will not be included in my garden for 2015 unless I can justify why they deserve a second chance!

DESIGN FEATURES POSITIVE 10-6 NEGATIVE5-0 INTERESTING
Polytunnel 0 Decided against this as the site proved unsuitable as it is too shaded by overhanging trees.
New Pond 0 Again the suggested site was too close to trees so the pond would fill with leaves each autumn. Also my children created a den behind the chicken run that required access over this area.
Stepping stones 2 I put a few in by the chicken run where I had the most trouble with mud. No other paths implemented due to lack of funds and time
Sectional chicken run 7 Works great in space b the shed, can open it up to let the hens forage behind the greenhouse too. Not used for chicken tractoring as yet, but plans to do so over this winter.
Raised beds 9 Great success, easy to make and maintain, very productive, great use of sunny part of garden, kids enjoy helping me.
Key hole beds 3 The woodchip paths rotted very quickly, the space is under trees so not great for annual veg. Difficult to access. Redesign as forest garden in 2015?
Water storage and capture 7 New tanks installed and collection off shed and overflow into pond. All functions well. However my son learnt to open the taps this summer and kept draining the tanks.
Wood store 6 Lots of wood storage spaces in garden now. We don’t need to buy in any wood this winter.
Pots on patio and deck 7 Looked lovely all summer and productive for herbs and cut flowers. However, v hot sunny position so lots of watering was required.
Table and chairs 8 New table and bench seating created out of reclaimed timber. Easy to crate seats up to 12 people. Kept on patio not lawn in the end seemed more practical option.
Grapevine 6 Great at shading deck in summer and letting in light in autumn/winter. However again it needed watering more and did not produce many grapes. They grapes that did grow were eaten by birds, but gret for birdwatching from kitchen
New lower fencing 5 I lkie it as it lets more light in and hopefully it will stand up better to winter storms. Our neighbour did not like it and put up a 6 foot fence along the remaining boundary would not consider a lower fence.
PLANTING
FRUIT
Rhubarb 5 Old plant needs dividing
Black currant 8 Loads of fruit but old bush, getting unstable
Gooseberry 6 Lots of fruit but tricky to harvest
Red currant 8 Great, need to take cuttings to start new plants as per black currants
Apple trees 6 Cooking apples was great, not loads on eating apple trees. Shared harvest with neighbours
Pear trees 4 Still establishing, spots on leaves diseased?
Blackberries 6 Were cut back hard this year so smaller harvest than normal
Raspberries 8 Good crop considering 1st year
White currant 4 Tasty but didn’t harvest many
Grapevines 5 Not too many grapes set and most lost to birds. Beautiful autumn colour
Fig 9 Fantastic, 50 ish fruits this year
Strawberries 6 Kids ate them all
Alpine strawberries 7 Spreading well
Cherry trees 6 First few cherry this year
Plum trees 4 Rubbish this year
ANNUAL VEG
Courgettes 2 Rubbish in my garden for last few years
Carrots 3 Didn’t really come to anything
Parsnips 0 Forgot to sow any
Beetroot 8 Great, ate stalks and leaves too
Raddishes 4 Ok in spring, went woody v quicky
Leeks 0 Dug up by chickens
Pumpkins 1 Lots of leafy growth but no fruit
Sweetcorns 1 Only 1 cob set! Rubbish
Cucumber 3 Didn’t do much
Mange tout 7 Great value
Broad beans 6 Good but needed more
Potatoes 6 Only had a few as take a lot of space but kids enjoyed harvest
Kale 4 Too late growing, chickens ate it
Spinach 3 Bolted v fast despite being in shade of grapevine
Lettuces 6 Great early and late in season, don;t bother in midsummer
Tomatoes 8 Great, lots of good outdoor toms, lots of work though
Peas 5 Not great this year
Chilis 9 Loads and v tasty and easy to grow
Aubergine 2 Small fruits set but none harvested
HERBS, FLOWERS AND MISC
Mint 7 Loads, need to keep in check
Edible flowers 9 Lovely and useful
Herbs in pots on patio 8 Fab
Sunflowers 6 Did ok, kids enjoyed the race
Lavendar 6 Establishing well
Calendula 9 Love it
Green manure mix 4 Didn’t do much
Sweetpeas 8 Lovely
Roses 9 Fab
Clematis 8 Lovely
Spring bulbs 6 Need more
PERENNIALS
Wild garlic 9 My fav, no effort, more each year, v useful in spring cooking
Perennial leaves patch 3 Not very successful, still needs to establish, went to seed quickly
Jerusulmn artichokes 8 Useful plant, lots of tubers but I don’t like eating them and fed to hens. Useful poles in garden.
Per.onions- various 6 First year so still at trial stage but hopeful.

IMG_4948

I have looked back at the five key functions I wanted my garden design to fulfil. They were; food production, attracting beneficial insects, water capture and sustainable usage, soil improvement and places to sit and enjoy the garden. 

Food production See notes above and below, the garden was pretty productive for a relatively small space and I am pleased with the amount of food i was able to produce.

Attracting beneficial insects I planted lots of flowers and herbs. I left wilderness areas and log piles. I could have concentrated more on this function but I felt the ecosystem in my garden is pretty well-balanced.

Water capture and sustainable usage New water capture and storage systems installed. See table above for details.

 Soil improvement I worked on mulching, green manure, composting and sheet mulches this year and I have started to learn what works and what does not work so well in my garden.

Places to sit and enjoy the garden. New table and bench seating created. I was gifted a bench, we made seating from timber around the firepit. I definitely enjoy my garden and would often rather hang out in my outdoor space than venture out into the wider world!

IMG_8383

I have looked at the food diary that I kept from May-September to see if I achieved my goal of eating something from my garden four days out of each week. Most weeks did achieve this goal, excluding those when we were away on holiday. Most harvests were small, with homegrown crops being pleasing addition to a meal rather than the bulk of what we ate. Salad crops and herbs did well as did fruit especially figs, currants and cooking apples. This is what I harvested each month.

MAY – wild garlic, parsley, lettuce, radishes, lemon verbena, mange tout, mint, lovage, eggs, pea shoots.

JUNE – Calendula, chives, beetroot stalks and leaves, onions, broad beans, basil, cucumber, nasturtiums, oregano, lettuce, raspberries, rocket, corn salad, eggs, rhubarb, strawberries, red/black/white currants, wild strawberries, gooseberries, cherries, spinach.

JULY – Broad beans, spring onions, beetroot stalks and leaves, blueberries, red/black/white currants, gooseberries, new potatoes, welsh onions, runner beans, eggs.

AUGUST – Runner beans, plums, tomatoes, chilis, figs, cucumber, courgettes, parsley, celery, purple beans, black and yellow toms, eggs.

SEPTEMBER – Figs, beetroots, courgettes, tomatoes, purple beans, blackberries, cooking apples, eating apples, raspberries, grapes, eggs, peppers, chilis, runner beans.

IMG_4924So in conclusion, my design was a great start to re-vamping the food growing areas in my garden. I have learnt a lot from this first year. All the record keeping has been manageable, enjoyable and a useful resource for me to refer back to in planning my tweaks to this design for my garden plans for 2015.

 

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7 thoughts on “My garden design – Evaluation 2014

  1. Great reflection! And you got a good range of produce – especially for a first year. I’m developing as much of a forest garden as I can, though my garden is small. Amazing how much you can grow in small spaces, though.

  2. This is really good and helpful. I am new to permaculture gardening, your design is useful and it encouraged me to get going again, and to do a reflexion of what I did in the past season also. Thanks for inspiration.

    • Thanks so much! I am learning to enjoy and honour the entire process, from planning to action to reflection. It is all so important and the real learning comes from completing the cycle. Enjoy your reflection. Thanks for visiting my blog, and please do pop by again!

  3. Wow! This was clearly a lot of work and a great idea for year-by-year improvement. I particularly love the design. Nicely done!

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