Saturday, 6 July 2013
Back on the Trail of the Frugal Microholding (Part I)
Part 1 of 3
It's been two years since we moved into our fixy-up. That's another two years of scrimping and saving, trying to get an eco-renovation done on a very tight budget and trying to create a semblance of normality in the wilderness that was the garden before the property lay empty for a couple of years. I'm pleased to say that we do now have water running from the taps rather than all over the house and through the roof, mains electricity reinstated, a phone line with broadband, a flushing toilet, an electric shower and a stand along multi-fuel stove (although this still needs some work done to complete the installation properly). We have some floors, even managing to uncover and salvage the original stone tiles that make up the hallway, but everything else is taking far more time and money than anticipated. But we can see the path we're taking, so that has to be good.
Garden progress is even slower! Weeds grow very fast, almost as fast as the dreaded slugs and snails munch through my plants! And this year's exceptionally long winter with several feet of snow certainly haven't helped matters. Regardless, the 90m x 10m strip of wilderness is slowly taking shape on what little budget we afford it.
OK, so it's painstakingly slow, despite trying to get it to a stage that it will produce food for us as quickly as possible. I've been trying my best to do as much as possible with as little as possible, salvaging useable 'stuff' in an effort to try and follow a frugal version of permaculture. As you can see, the Foxgloves are in full agreement with this strategy.
The bottom of the garden remains untouched barring what the hens have managed to achieve for us by way of clearing the ground. Moving from the hen run we have the burn, which has flooded once during the severe rains we had last year. Next to this is the wild bird corner, seen above, which is surrounded by Foxgloves and a selection of shrubs donated by friends or traded for through our LETS (Local Exchange Trading Scheme) group.
It's a very pretty corner of the garden and one where we were happy to see Blue tits nesting this year in the first of the boxes we'd hung in the old plum tree. What with that and the ducks having the run of this part of the garden, it makes for an ideal shady retreat - if the old wooden bench remains with us long enough to enjoy using it. All around the edges, I have planted raspberry canes but these have taken on a life of their own and will need sorting out later this year so we can train them into neat productivity in future years.
About halfway down the garden, we dug a pond and linked it to the stream, hoping this would help siphon off any excess surface water during floods. There's another wooden bench beside the pond but you tend to get soaked when sitting there if the ducks decide it's more fun to bathe in the pond than swim in it. They do love their pond but, like everything else about here, the pond project hasn't been completed yet.
The willow whips have sprouted and had to be cut back this year, the reeds have rooted and are growing well and the little fruit trees that had to be rudely transplanted from the previous garden at a less than suitable time of year seem to be recovering from the upheaval, some even beginning to produce fruit. (Only apples and cherries, the pear and plum trees are much slower) but that's as far as the central garden project - the micro orchard - has reached, so far. But the ducks love it!
In true permaculture fashion and in support of several pleas to leave parts of the garden uncut to attract and benefit bees and other insects, I have banned the mowing of the daisies and buttercups that grow among the fruit trees, barring a path through them to get to the bottom of the garden and reach the hens.
In this mid section, we also have the duck housing and two compost bins but I have to say they will never produce sufficient compost to sort out the entire garden, so I have had to invest in pre-packed bags for starting off seeds and getting the vegetables going. The hedgerow is slowly becoming edible, as I have all the raspberries, crab apples, blackcurrants and elder. We'll see how things go with those before embarking on any further developments in that department.
Apologies if these posts seem to be rather image heavy, but it's the easiest way of recording progress so I may look back this time next year and see what progress has been made.