It is always a special and wonderful moment when the trees first break bud and the young leaves emerge.. signalling a new season. Especially when it happens rather late like it has this year.. having being plunged back into deep winter for three weeks with that late March snowfall.
We have been busy all winter getting the garden established, so in some ways the late spring has given a couple of extra weeks of getting ready for the growing season to be fully upon us.
We have been busy propagating plants and we have a selection for sale from the Newtown garden. They are quality plants from organic seeds, mainly peas and broad beans at the moment as well as salad, with more coming.
No dig gardening
We are keen to develop a minimal tillage growing system and also want to minimise the use of fossil fuel powered machines but when it comes to establishing a new garden and breaking through long term pasture then there are not many options. We have had the ground covered for as long as we could manage to knock back the grass but it would probably have to be covered for the whole season to get it clear and we are of course impatient to press ahead and plant. It has turned out be quite a challenge, the first machine we rented simply wasn’t up the job, the ground was too heavy, compacted and wet for the machine to et through it so we had to go up a size to a mini tractor sized rotovator. Finally we have gone over it all again, with the machine pictured and with the soil having dried out a bit as well is breaking up into a finer tilth.. much more useful for what we need.
If we maintain this well, and keep it covered when not in use we should not have to plough it up again… hopefully this will give us the head start we need to get on top of and and develop our no dig system.
Of course we have also built three Huglkultur beds.. inspired by the work of Sepp Holzer and these we have covered with permeable garden fabric, which will kill off the grasses whilst allowing moisture to penetrate. The plan for these beds is to plant through holes in the fabric with strong plants like pumpkin, courgette and squash.. which again will help establish a veg growing system and suppress grasses and weeds. it is a big experiment for us, these beds but many others who have tried this method are reporting successes, so although it has been a lot of work to establish them it should be well worth it in the long run.
Here s a very healthy looking asparagus plant.. this crown was grown from seed a year ago and is now ready for planting ou in a dedicated bed where it should produce regularly for 10 years or more. Again this is something that takes a lot of work to establish.. but should be well worth the work in the long run.
This picture is from another project where I was working at the weekend, it a fabulous clay oven which works by thermal mass and clever design to get a roaring fire inside to heat it all up. We are planning to build something similar to this at Pen Dinas.. and we are already dreaming of pizza parties and the like.. enjoying some of our produce. There will be a course and opportunities to join in when we make this… so keep a look out for announcements.
Permaculture Design is a system you can expect to hear more and more about in the future. It is a design system modelled from nature that enables the development of sustainable, resilient and nature friendly systems. It applies to gardens, homes, businesses, pretty much anything as it is the study of interrelationships and systems.
Those with an enthusiasm to study it are encouraged to take the 2 week Permaculture Design Course.. this covers an internationally recognised curriculum and visit sites working with those principles and brings yo into contact with other people with similar interests and convictions. Sector39 are a group of people who have delivered 20 of these specialist and inspirational courses and they are now coming to be part of the Cwm Harry organisation and are offering training, talks and introductions into this area. More details to come.. but anyone who would like to know more should visit the Sector39 website.