My garden design – Tweaks

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I have started this post with an image of a sunflower head as I think it fits well with my current activity of bringing all my ideas together in a harmonious way and looking to nature for inspiration.

To approach the ‘Tweak’ stage of my garden design, I revisited OBREDIMET.

Observations – I looked back at my notes for 2014. I walked around the garden and checked what needed immediate attention. I looked back over the monthly photographs I had taken of my garden.  See post here. I used my in-depth knowledge of my garden, its eco-systems and microclimates built up over the seven years I have lived here.  I looked back at my records of what I harvested from the garden and graded each crop and garden feature to access the effectiveness of my design. See more about this on this post

Boundaries– I looked at what did not work last year and needed changing. I looked at my available time, energy, assistance, resources and money to make changes. I considered the changing needs of my family, how they use the garden and what they like to eat.

Resources– I again looked at my blog posts planning the garden and read over my notes from last year. I looked at the flip-side boundaries and focussed on the positives of time, energy, assistance, resources and money I had available to devote to the design. I looked at the seeds I had left over from previous years. I looked at the garden vouchers I was given for Christmas. I looked at what I could propagate from existing plants in my garden.

 

Evaluation – I brought all of the above together and considered what my priorities were. I set myself aims for my garden in 2015. These are detailed at the bottom of this post.

Design – I looked back at my original design and created an overlay. I used a temporary pen to play around with fitting crops into spaces on the plan, using the tool ‘planning for real’ When I was happy with these I wrote them in with permanent pen. I used the Permaculture principles of ‘Least change for greatest effect’ ‘Creatively use and respond to change’ ‘ Apply self-regulation and accept feedback’ and ‘Observe and interact’

Implement – I will create an implementation plan over the next few weeks

Maintain – I will create a maintenance plan.

Evaluation – I will keep notes on the effectiveness of the design like I did during 2014 in order to evaluate it against my aims at the end of the growing season.

Tweak – I will tweak the garden again next year and continue this cycle year after year.

IMG_5497The original design

IMG_5495 The tweaked overlay

The overlay shows new planting plans for the annual vegetable beds and more focus put onto Forest garden areas. I looked back to my notes about which crops were best for the needs of my family and the environment of my garden. I have excluded lots of crops that don’t do well in my garden and plan to focus on a more limited range of crops this year. I have chosen crops we like to eat a lot of and those that taste better fresh from the garden. I also plan to use varieties that are not easily to purchase in the shops. I also plan to develop the forest garden areas.

IMG_5496This image shows the original design and overlay combined to show how the new and old designs work together.

 

Aims for my garden design during 2015

1. To develop the forest garden areas. I plan to re-read my books on Forest gardening and plan these areas carefully to be as self-sustaining as possible.

2. To focus more on perennial crops I have a lot of demands on my time this coming year which will take me away from the garden, so one aim for this year is to plant less annuals and focus more on perennials that will need less input from me to do well.

3. To ensure the chickens are safe and well cared for. To develop a new enclosed run area using the space behind the greenhouse that is currently neglected. A fox has moved into the area and took two of my chickens recently, so I am being far more wary about allowing them to free-range.

4. To experiment with new varieties of crops that I know do well in my garden.

5. To grow more edible flowers and salad crops.

6. To maintain and develop the good work I have started in the garden, especially with composting, mulching and water capture.

 

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The Lost Gardens of Heligan Cornwall

We had a fantastic day at The Lost gardens of Heligan. I had read a couple of books about these gardens. They were abandoned for many years and became overgrown and like a jungle! It must have been so exciting for the garden restorers to hack their way into the undergrowth and rediscover old paths, fallen down greenhouses and wonderful planting. The gentle Cornish climate and the unique aspect of the site makes it suitable for semi-tropical plants, so it really feels like another world. I was very impressed with the outdoor education facilities. We spend a fun few hours constructing elaborate dens out of ropes, branches and tarpaulins. So much fun, especially when it briefly rained and we took shelter in our dens to eat lunch. The kids will always remember that adventurous pack up! The walled productive gardens were something special. Every fruit, vegetable and herb imaginable planted out in the longest rows I have ever seen. It looked beautiful.

heligan pond2heligan facewood musicrows of flowers rhubarbonion rowskids walking off  heligan pond heligan group heligan giant  greenhouse giant leavesflower1 flowers into distance flowers in walled garden flowers and boys flower4 flower3 flower2den3 den2 dencampfirebridge2 bridgebee beaut veggies beaut veg2

There was lots of plants, flowers and sculptures. You got a map and compass at the beginning to help you find treasure. There was also a vegetable garden that grew lots of vegetables in long long rows. My mummy loved it there. There were two sculptures and one of them was a face and another was a person lying down and they both looked really weird! They were made out of stone, plants and rocks. I quite liked the look of them.    Miss E age 8 

We build an amazing den and ate our packed lunch in it while it was raining. We walked over a high up bridge. It was high and a bit scary.                                                        Miss C age 4 

I spilt a whole bottle of water over myself in the vegetable garden so we had to go home  Master S age 1

 

The Botanical gardens – Leicester

We love to visit the Botanical gardens a few miles from our home. It is a beautiful garden with university buildings, a cafe, open spaces for the children to run around it, a large pond and a sculpture park. The double boarders are full of herbaceous perennials and look stunning in the summer months. I suspect there is a bee hive or two somewhere near by as the flowers are always covered in bees on sunny days.

long boarder botdouble boarder botdhalia bee dhaliabee2 dhalia botblackeyed susans bees bot bee2c bubbles2dhalia bot

 

In the summer there are millions of bees and wasps. I think they like the bright flowers. There are lots of sculptures there on the grass. My Daddy did a sculpture project there once making things out of wood. There is a pond with fish in it.  Miss E Age 8

I like running down paths and blowing bubbles. I do like the pretty flowers. Miss C age 4

 

The Eden Project Cornwall

We camped close to The Eden Project for our summer holiday in August. We loved it there so much that we visited twice in ten days. It was lovely seeing so many people exploring ideas about sustainability and gardening. However the site does tend to get very busy, so a good tip is to arrive just as the doors are opening at 9.30am. Not too difficult a task when you are living in a field with children who wake up at the crack of dawn! We had been before about ten years ago soon after it opened, so it was great to go back and see how much the plants had established and the site had expanded. We had a buy one get one free ticket from Gardener’s World magazine, which made it a very good value family day out. Highly recommended.

s edenview of eden sisters 2s path and fencesisters s grass path  purple bot pink bot pattern wood floor pattern of leaf narnas meadoweden domes dinosaur! crazy pink flower canna lily 4 trees and sfamily group eden

The Eden project was really fun, but Coco was scared of the dinosaur. I thought the dinosaur was lovely, it had a baby one that walked around on someones hand everywhere as well. There was a bare-foot walk that I liked. I found a big fat caterpillar on our walk. Miss E aged 8

I didn’t like the dinosaur, he was scary, I did have a dream about him once.                     Miss C age 4

 

Early morning edges

sunset grasses

Good morning all. I have been up since 5am today with wide-awake children. Not my favourite way to spend a cold, dark, rainy saturday morning! But rather than being annoyed, I decided to use this unexpected ‘edge’ of my day to do something productive.

I have sorted through hundreds of photographs from gardens I visited over the summer. Doing so has taken me back to the sunny happy days of the summer adventures we had as a family. I will be sharing some of these garden photos on my blog over the coming few days. Have a lovely and produtive weekend. xx

 

Twelve Principles for twelve months. January. ‘Energy cycling’

Throughout 2015 I will be looking at Bill Mollison’s Permaculture Principles. I have allocated one principle per month at random. I will aim to find a relevant image, some quotations around the subject, some possible applications and a challenge for myself that relates to the principle and the Permaculture activity I am involved in at that time.

January ‘Energy cycling’

IMG_5344The image shows a leaf that has recently fallen from an oak tree and come to settle on the snowy ground in my local woods. It will be broken down by the actions of time, life-forms and the weather. As it decomposes it brings life to the forest floor and add fertility to allow more trees to grow, bloom, then drop their leaves in turn and continue the cycle. 

QUOTATIONS

“Our work as Permaculture designers is to prevent energy leaving before the basic needs of the whole system are satisfied, so that growth, reproduction and maintenance continue in our living components”                                                                              Bill Mollison

“Energy Cycling: Permaculture systems intend to stop the flow of energies off-site and instead turn them into cycles. The interaction between plants and animals produces energy, which is caught, stored, used and re-cycled. Incoming energy –sun, water, wind, manures– are used at its highest possible use, then its next highest, and so on. “Source to sink”: moving water across the landscape in a series of interlinking ponds to prevent erosive runoff. Cascading nutrients: turning the waste of one product into a multitude of other products using various life kingdoms i.e. plants, animals, bacteria, and fungus. Kitchen wastes to compost, animal manure to biogas, grey water to the garden.”                                                              Bill Mollison ‘Introduction to Permaculture’ 

“Design to make the best use of any energy or resources moving through a site. Link as many elements together as you can to create self-sustaining cyclic systems.”                                                                     Aranya ‘Permaculture design a step-by-step guide’

APPLICATIONS

I use this principle in my garden. I use prunings, weedings, animal bedding and food scraps to add to my compost bin or compost in place to return fertility to the soil. My local council supply ‘green’ bins for garden scraps but I declined to take one. I see my neighbours filling up these bins every week at the same time as buying compost from the garden centre. By keeping the fertility in my garden I hope to avoid having to buy in too much additional fertility from outside the system.

CHALLENGE

I wondered if I could apply this principle to a Zone 00 design (zone 00 means the self) I am working on a design currently about health, nutrition and exercise. Personal energy or lack of it has been a big issue for me over the last eight years of baby-raising and broken sleep. I felt very much like I needed to retain my energy whenever possible, so resisted exercising for a long time as I felt I did not have spare energy to burn. However, my attitude has now changed as I have began building exercise into my life and noticing that it actually inputs energy into my life.

I have done a quick input/output analysis and looked at where I could make links between energy needs and yields and ensure energy is being cycled around the system. I noticed how interlinked five elements were, getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, taking exercise, achieving my tasks and finding time for myself. If one of these elements fails for any reason, then the whole system is thrown into disarray. So how can I ensure these energy needs are satisfied, energy continues to cycle and the system remains resilient? That is my challenge for this month.

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My Garden 2014

A view from the bottom of our garden each month of 2014

JanuaryDSC_8423

FebruaryIMG_0616

MarchIMG_0929

AprilIMG_1346

MayIMG_1780

JuneIMG_2165

JulyIMG_3226

AugustIMG_3921

SeptemberIMG_4266

OctoberIMG_4929

NovemberIMG_5022

DecemberIMG_5186

A view from the top of our garden each month of 2014

JanuaryDSC_8412

FebruaryIMG_0612

MarchIMG_0916

AprilIMG_1335

MayIMG_1768

JuneIMG_2152

JulyIMG_3219

AugustIMG_4262

SeptemberIMG_4916

OctoberIMG_5032

NovemberIMG_5181

DecemberIMG_5425