Newly built mushroom bed with Shitake mushroom spawn.
So far we have laid one third of our hedges (about 25 metres), landscaped a sheer drop into a slope, planted more woodland with hazel, sweet chestnut, oak and walnut, started mushroom growing in wood chip beds and logs, planted a willow tree nursery of many different colours and vigours of willow to provide for living sculptures and weaving opportunities in future years.
This year we still have plans to make a wildlife pond to encourage more diversity of bird and animal into the garden. We have had hedgehogs but want to see more of them as well as the odd bird of prey like owls and of course pollinators like bees. We want to build a composting toilet for when we get caught short on the field.
It’s November now and the plants in the garden have become mostly dormant and the earth is looking bare where there was once lush growth. Still the harvests are in and we have an abundance of squashes, artichokes, carrots and parsnips to see us through the winter.
Nature is going inside itself to rest and await the warmer lighter days to come after winter. Seeds are stored and planted by birds and animals and energy is conserved by dying back of green shoots and leaves. In this way Nature provides us with a natural break when we can reflect on the achievements of the year and plan for next year’s growing scheme. As the days grow short it is also an opportunity to go more inside ourselves as our ancestors did, awaiting the winter solstice and the start of Natures new year. We can review our lives so far and make new intentions for the future as well as tend to our own energy by eating hearty stews made of root vegetables and dark leafy greens and some of those dried beans and quinoa we grew. It’s no coincidence that these are winter foods as they have always been around for winter and we have evolved alongside them and need them to support our metabolism.
So we are making notes of things to do differently, revising our sowing and planting plan, ordering a new biodynamic calendar for 2018 to see once again how productive this system can be and looking at seed and plant sources. Winter is also an ideal time to plant out dormant trees to allow their roots to get established ready for the start of new life in Spring, and we have 200 willows to plant into a new windbreak hedge to protect our plot better against the prevailing Westerlies. It’s going to be double row so that we can coppice each row every 2 years to ensure there is always protection but also providing us with willow for weaving.
So 2017 has been amazing in terms of learning about biodynamics and seeing the incredible yields we have had this year. We’ve also had a lot to learn about planting new types of seeds and you can see what we did in our blog. We also had a lot of visitors to our Taste of Self Sufficiency offer. 15 lots of people came for between 2 and 7 nights to join in the learning experience, and some people couldn’t make it in 2017 and are planning to come in 2018. It’s a great idea which benefits us and them. Check it out.! Permaculture magazine published an article by Andrew in January 2017 and this created a big, positive response, we were amazed how many people get what we are doing and want to learn more without spending a fortune on courses and accommodation! Permaculture Magazine is planning on publishing another article in 2018, this one is about the synthesis of permaculture, biodynamics and organics. And don’t forget that we are a vegan smallholding so we derive our proteins from plants not animals, so you can enjoy great food as well if you prefer not to exploit animals.
We hope to see you in 2018!
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