Thursday, 5 May 2011

Progress on the Frugaldom Microholding

Much Digging and Planting has Been Done

We've really been making the most of the past three weeks of exceptional weather, although it has meant having to water everything every day. We're very lucky to have the stream at the bottom of the garden, as it's a simple case of filling the watering can from there and then watering the fruit trees.

We now have the mini-orchard completely planted and all of the trees seem to have taken to the new ground. In total, we have the old plum tree, which was in the garden to begin with, 12 assorted apple, plum, pear and cherry trees plus 5 crab apples.

The crab apples have been planted along the south facing wall and will be kept down at manageable hedge height as part of my 'edible hedging'.

The orchard will be fenced off from the main garden, as I want the ducks to have the run of it. Slightly beyond this area, but within the fenced part, we plan on digging a pond.

It was lucky for us that we found a pile of 10cm diameter plastic pipes dumped at the bottom of the garden. These have now all been retrieved and measured - there are enough to join them up and make an overflow drain that will run between the pond and the stream. I'll just need to source a few connectors and a couple of angled joints to lead it down through the middle of the garden and then round to the little footbridge. It'll take a lot of digging to lay them all in but the pond will take even more, when we get around to excavating that. Hoping to be able to make it between 3m and 4m diameter, with a small patio/seating area nearby.

The big rhubarb patch has now been dug out, most of the rhubarb picked and the bed surrounded by a rock border. We used some of the chicken hut manure, which has composted, to dig in among the soil and I also planted the new crown that a friend gave me. In total, I have counted 10 crowns in this one plot, which measures about 4m x 1m.

The large slabs propped along the side of the rhubarb patch still have to be moved but we can't budge them. That's a job for son and his weight-training buddies, I think. Hopefully, we'll can find some strong logs or blocks to rest these on, as they'll make fantastic garden benches down in the orchard.

Since stripping out all the largest stalks of rhubarb, many more has started to come through. We should see an excellent second crop and I haven't wasted any of the first lot, as fellow LETS members have been trading for it.

The microholding, is being created in 'layers', as the garden slopes slightly, down to the stream. The laying hens are going on the opposite side of the water in what will be a 10m x 10m enclosure with a 3m x 2m chicken hut.

The chicken hut is gradually being renovated as and when we can salvage reuseable materials.
There's plenty of space for the hens, plus there's the opportunity to clear a further area of rough land in the future. At the moment, this area is VERY rough - mostly overgrown with brambles. It also has the burn running along the side of it, so that would need to be made safe. We haven't quite decided what to do with this, yet, all we know is that, as microholding land, it won't be wasted.

So, starting from the very bottom of the garden, we'll have poultry separated from the main garden by the stream.

Next, we'll have the orchard with the duck pond. This is where we've laid out the old livingroom carpet that was in the house, so it helps kill off all the weeds and grass beneath it before we start excavating. We'll then use the carpet to line the actual pond before fitting a proper liner, so there's less chance of any stones or rocks bursting the liner once the pond beds in. I suspect eBay or eBid will be the source of the pondliner.

The orchard will all be fenced from the main garden to keep the ducks enclosed and I'll probably keep the pure breed bantams there, so it's easier to keep an eye on broody hens and chicks. The compost bins have been fitted into a corner of this area, too.

 Next, we'll have fruit bushes - raspberries, tayberries, red/white/blackcurrants, gooseberries - and rhubarb. The shed will be sited here, too, which means it will be about halfway down the garden. We've already got most of the blackcurrants into the ground and some are starting to form berries, already. I've made a start on getting the raspberry canes in and I've got the gooseberries transplanted from their buckets.

Proceeding towards the house, the next area is being dedicated to vegetable growing, so this will be an area for raised beds, square foot gardening and cold frames.

Not sure how much of this will be achieved in year 1 but I'd really like to get somewhere dug out for potatoes, before it's too late. (If it isn't already!) I have only one row of potatoes planted along side a small onion bed. There are plenty of old windows lying about the place, so the carrot seeds are growing well under them and the courgettes are looking like fine, healthy specimens.

Beyond the veg plots will be the greenhouse - not yet organised - and then the tubs and pots leading up to what will be the patio. At the moment, it had planters, tubs, pots and buckets sitting everywhere, along with an assortment of other garden 'stuff'. I also have a couple of tiny trees in planters that granddaughter planted from fruit stones about four years ago. I think there are two nectarines. I don't suppose that they'll ever grow to bear fruit but it's nice to keep them for her.

In the assorted pots, planters and tubs, the strawberries are doing exceptionally well. The prolonged warm, sunny spell has really driven them on.  There are about a dozen planters and troughs filled with them, as I haven't decided where they'll eventually go. With luck, all these flowers will develop into fruit and we could see a bumper crop, despite their all having had to move. Some were only transplanted within the last week.

Many of the seeds I planted over the past couple of weeks have germinated and today's rain should really help their cause: salad leaves & lettuce, radishes, carrots, peas, parsley, onions, the onions sets have sprung into life and the nasturtiums and sweet peas are catching up after their late sowings. In other tubs, I have sat seed trays containing courgettes, giant pumpkins, tomatoes, peppers, peas, runner beans and french beans. These tubs have been covered with glass, so I'm eagerly awaiting the results from there anyday now.

My mint - two varieties - is growing well. We love this ground and mixed with crumbled chocolate into homemade ice cream but it's just as nice mixed into cheap, shop-bought varieties, which I suspect will be all I'll get time to use this year. The lemon balm mint gets used for drinking as tea - tastes delicious.

With so much to do indoors, we are glad to see the arrival of the much-needed rain. For a start, it will make us stay indoors getting more of the renovation work done. But lest you all despair, we have managed to get quite a bit done in the house. All the wood treatment has been completed upstairs, we have holes in the sittingroom, hall and bathroom floors, the kitchen ceiling is partially down and we have, I hope, only one serious pipeleak to be mended.

The new fuseboard for the electrics is being fitted tomorrow and the attic rooms should be completed by next weekend. By then, also, the shed should have been delivered and we can start getting all sorts of stuff stored into that.

The Frugaldom microholding is coming together and we have another 29 days left of the 50-day challenge to make it all habitable.

Challenging times - follow the daily progress in my '50 day challenge' thread of the Frugaldom Forums. The forums are free to join but you need to register in order to read or post. We also reserve the right to delete 'lurker' accounts.


  1. Gosh what a lot of progress you have made. We are in the middle of putting a poly tunnel up but as hubs works full time it's taking a looong time. Like you I have seedlings growing all over the place!

  2. This. Is. Fantastic.

    Well done Susan, I'm looking forward to hopefully seeing the progress with my own eyes in a few (well, about 7) weeks.


  3. Wow! You have worked extremely hard!
    It's coming on in leaps and bounds!
    Have a great weekend.

    Sandie xx

  4. I am amazed at the progress you've made in such a short time!

    You've done some wonderful work! And the photos are great too.

  5. Thanks everyone - the brilliant weather we've had for the past 3 weeks has helped no end. Today it was back to the house side of things, stripping wallpaper, knocking out plaster and taping plasterboard. I even tried lighting the fire - it didn't send smoke all ways, it seemed to burn OK with smoke heading straight up the chimney. Phew!

    All the rain we have had over the past 24 hours should speed things along and I noticed that the first of my brussell sprouts seeds have germinated. I'm not a sprouts fan, but if they grow, I'll certainly learn to love them. :)

    Dave, looking forward to seeing you and B again soon, hope you can fit in another visit.

    H-M, hope you have great success with your poly tunnel. Sis has one and I'd love one, but we're quickly running out of space at the rate I'm planting stuff. :)

  6. Brilliant stuff. You are doing SO well, I'm seriously impressed and ever so slightly jealous.

    I love it when a plan comes together and your plan certainly is on it's way.

    Sue xx


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