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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Twelve Principles for twelve months – October – Apply self regulation and accept feedback

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I intend to use ‘Apply self regulation and accept feedback’ in the following ways;

1. Go back to the ‘Food from my garden’ design. Check in with the goals I set myself and review progress. Accept feedback from my garden about what grew well and what didn’t and which goals were met and which were not and why. Use this learning to make tweaks to my planting plan for 2015.

2. I have a design support tutorial booked with my tutor Hannah Thorogood in early October. At this I will receive feedback on my Muddy Boots design work (assuming I can get the reminder of it written up in time) I also hope to talk to Hannah about my new design ‘The Wolf Run challenge’

3. My final Muddy Boots session is on October 31st. I will be requesting feedback from participants to review how this season has worked and to help me with making changes to the design for 2015. I am hoping to turn MB into a small business, so I want to compile lots of info about how far people would be willing to travel, how much they would pay, how often they would like to meet etc.

4. I have just had a fabulous day attending a ‘Forest gardens for forest schools practitioners’ workshop led by a friend from my PDC Sarah Spencer (post about this to come asap) My role was multifaceted. As well as being a participant, I also scribed for Sarah, documented the day photographically and provided feedback on each session she ran. Sarah is using the workshop as one of her diploma design, so my feedback was important in helping her to reflect upon the day and make tweaks.

5. The PDC I have been volunteering at in Leicester comes to an end this month. The final session sees all participants and helpers present for five minutes about a design they have been working on. I am going to present too, either my Muddy Boots design or ‘The wolf run challenge’ (more about this coming soon) This will give me the opportunity to both receive feedback from the group about my own design and provide feedback on the designs of others.