Muddy Boots garden re-design. CEAP. Collect site information.

Design Project overview

At the moment I am re-designing the area of the community allotment where I run Muddy Boots Allotment Playgroup. We were lucky enough to be awarded £250 from a local funding body at the end of last year. I have managed to squirrel away most of this money and plan on putting it towards physical improvements and enlargements to the space.

My Muddy Boots group is entering its 5th year now, but its only really the 2nd year that I have ran it as a businness with the aim to make money and for it to be my career rather than a hobby. So this year I hope to enlarge the space to be able to fit in more people and to run twice the amount of sessions.

The aim of this Permaculture Diploma design is to enlarge the fenced-in area and re-design the space where the group meets. I initally designed the space as the project I undertook as part of my PDC back in 2012. You can view the original design and process here. My PDC design.

I have decided to use the process C.E.A.P to structure my design. This design process has been chosen for two reasons, firstly because I’ve not used it before and secondly because it seems quite quick and easy compared to other design processes. I need this design process to happen quickly due to a deadline of mid April for the changes to be implimented by when the group begins meeting for our Spring season.

CEAP                                                                                                                                                     Collect site information
Evaluate the information
Apply Permaculture principles
Plan a schedule of implementation, maintenance, evaluation and tweaking


Collect site information

To collect site information I used the following Permaculture tools; meeting with relevant people, observed and measured the space, drew a base map, did a client interview, thought about boundaries and resources, did some wild designing, thought about functions and elements, looked at zones and sectors and took observational photographs.

In October 2015 I had a meeting with Sue, the lead volunteer gardener for the community allotment and we discussed my plans for extention and redesign. She gave me the go-ahead to proceed with the proviso that I do all the implementation and general maintainance myself or with members of my group. I am lucky that Sue is also involved in Permaculture and is very supportive, even if some of the other allotment gardeners have not always been so happy to have a large group of toddlers and children rampaging around their patch!

I measured up the space and drew a rough map showing sizes. I considered how much additional space I would need and where this could be located on adjoining land to make the best use of the plot. This showed me how much additional fencing I would need to purchase. I measured up the existing fencing to try to match fencing for the new area.

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I did a client interview with myself as client to really focus in on why I wanted to do this redesign and what I wanted the outcomes to be. I thought about functions of the space, what my boundaries and resources were.

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I looked in more detail at my boundaries and resources;

Boundaries. The main boundaries are time, money, energy and skills.

Time I have about 10 weeks currently till the site needs to be ready (early feb – mid april) I can devote a few weekends and a few thursdays to implementing the design.

Money I have £250 funding plus £50 saved from last years takings, so a total of £300 available to cover all expenses. This must include plants, seeds, compost and this years resources I need to buy in advance.

Energy I have some time put aside to devote to the design and implementation. I will have some help from my husband and can maybe suggest to the group that they can help too if they’d like to. Maybe the community allotment volunteers could do some jobs on tuesday mornings? I need to talk to Sue about this.

Skills I have very basic skills in woodworking. I am good at gardening, creative jobs and garden design. I need help with the heavy lifting and technical stuff. Lots of the jobs will require two or more people.

Resources on site that I can use in my redesign.

  • 1 wooden pallet 100 x 120 cm
  • 4 decking boards 200 x 15 cm (currently sandpit edging)
  • 4 decking boards 150 x 15 cm (currently sandpit edging)
  • 2 tractor tyres
  • 20 15cm square block paving tiles
  • 7 planks 12ft x 15cm (currently made into a raised bed)
  • Possible to prune the willow to make a den or structure
  • Various paving slabs and planks of assorted sizes

To stop myself getting too bogged down in the detail and to see the bigger picture again, I did some wild design thinking and came up with some outlandish ideas just for fun. I have had some time, space, money, help, ownership of the land then I’d love to do some or all of these crazy ideas!

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Then I brought myself back to reality and I thought about what elements were already in the space and what I wanted to keep, remove, change and add.

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Next I looked back at my original basemap drawn for the site in 2012 where I had added notes about the zones and sectors of the site. IMG_1448

These initial observations were pretty accurate, so I used this to do an updated base map showing the increased plot size and what was currently on site. The portion of the space to the left hand side of the dotted line is the new area that we will be expanding into.

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I took some more photos of the site as it is now, 3rd feb 2016 for reference and to help me with my designing.IMG_0857The new boundary will follow the existing fenceline out to almost the end of the dug bed in the middle of the picture then turn 90 degrees and meet the fence. This will enlarge the space available to me by approximately a third.

IMG_0867Looking over the existing fenceline to the area that will now be included. The area currently includes a raised bed, two barrel planters, a small cherry tree, a wire and wood fence and material storage.

IMG_0861The fencing can be reused. I will take down the fence at the east end of the plot and reuse this elsewhere. There are two sections of picket fence here 1 is 10.5 ft long and the other is 12 ft long. The fences look like they have been purchased as individual elements and constructed to fit the site. It should be possible to take them down as two pieces and then remove the fence posts or use them within my design.


 

My garden design – Design process part two.

My Garden design is coming along well. I have done lots of work on it over the past months. The rapidly approaching spring is pushing me on, as I need to be ready to begin planting by the beginning of next month. This post follows on from the post entitled ‘My garden design, beginning the design process’. This post will detail additional stages in the ‘Think’ stage of the Permaculture design process.

Base map. The Base map below shows the dimensions, orientation and major features of the garden as it was in January 2014. The set of six beds in the centre of the garden were put in last summer with a view to doing this design and upping food production.

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Overlays. I created overlays onto acetate. These are useful as they can show different aspects of the garden on different maps, keeping the original base map simple.

 

This overlay shows Zones and Desire linesIMG_0897

IMG_0899This overlay shows Sectors

Additional client interview                                                                                               

I have spoken lots to the other members of my family in an informal way about what they wanted from our garden. However, on reflection, I thought maybe I had made some assumptions about their wants, needs, likes and dislikes. So I went back over this with each member of my household and recorded their thoughts. For the children I did this in the form of a mind-map and for my husband we used an adaptation of the 4 questions tool, where he spoke and I wrote, then read his answers back to him. Photos of my notes are below. The blue building blocks are just used to cover their names and ages for reasons of privacy.IMG_0910IMG_0912

Key functions. The next stage was to decide upon Key functions. They were taken from considerations of the client interviews along with the work detailed in my previous post such; observations, boundaries, resources, functions/elements/systems and mapping. I decided to focus on five key functions for my design; food production, attracting beneficial insects, water capture and sustainable usage, soil improvement and places to sit and enjoy the garden. For each of these key functions I have set SMART goals. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bounded.

1. Food production. I aim for the garden to provide something to eat four days out of each week from May to September 2014. I will record what I pick, cook and eat in a diary. I plan to grow annual and perennial vegetables and add more fruit trees and soft fruit.

2. Attracting beneficial insects. I will research and grow suitable plants to attract pollinators and beneficial insects to help my food crops be successful. I will add these plants to my planting plan by the end of March 2014. I will make a special effort to observe the garden insects and keep a record of what I see. I will use companion planting and guilds in my garden.

3. Water capture and sustainable usage. I will add guttering and water storage tanks to my sheds by May 2014. I will use drip irrigation in some of my vegetable beds. I will set up an overflow system from the rainwater tanks to keep the pond topped up. I will try not to use mains water at all this summer to irrigate my plants. I will record in a diary anytime my tanks are dry and I have to use mains water in the garden.

4. Soil improvement I will research sheet mulching and use this technique to improve the keyhole beds where the chicken run previously was. I will sheet mulch by the end of March 2014. I will use green manures on available beds to cover the soil throughout the year. I will continue composing the chicken bedding and our food and garden waste. I will aim to get horse manure for free in the autumn to cover the beds for the winter. I will aim to not buy in more than five bags of compost this year. I shall hope to reduce this consumption each year.

5. Places to sit and enjoy the garden I will move the position of the table and chairs to where it gets the evening sun. I will aim to eat dinner outside with my family at least once a week from May onwards, hopefully many more times. I will have at least six meals or BBQ’s in the garden with family and friends during the warmer months.

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Remedial actions. The most pressing things to be addressed seem to be; the muddy paths, the lack of water capture on the sheds; developing a new run for the chickens and moving the table and chairs into a sunny spot.  I have created a new sectional chicken run, more on this in a later post. I am hoping to address the water capture and storage issue one weekend soon. I was be laying some stepping stones initially from the terrace to the main path, to avoid the muddy patch. The table and chairs are easy to move but I am waiting until after giving the lawn its first mow of the year when it has dried out a little more.

IMG_0901                                 This overlay shows some initial ideas about areas requiring attention.