Saturday, 6 July 2013

Back on the Trail of the Frugal Microholding (Part 3)

Making Decisions Affecting the Creation of our Microholding

Part 3 of 3

FILLING IN THE GAPS! This is the concluding part of my 3-part blog for the weekend, bringing you up to date with progress (or lack of) and arriving at a decision that wouldn't have been made but for the events over the past few days. I'll start with our patio area, as I was hoping to make it very productive by way of the fact that it gets plenty of sunshine and is particularly well sheltered on three sides.

On the left, you can see the vacant gap in the top half of our developing garden. It is fairly flat, stony and has very little soil. It also sits in line with the pipework for the septic tank, so any digging and backfilling would need to accommodate that.

Looking from my kitchen window, I can see all of what we refer to as the patio. It's basically a concreted area where the old outbuildings once stood, along with what we were told was some sort of lean to greenhouse or old-style tomato house. The main outbuilding has been renovated - this will, one day, become the eco arts studio - and the big hole in the centre filled in to create another garden feature. The colourful flexi-trugs along the wall contain a variety of plants, from fuchsias to beetroot, cabbage and courgettes. So far, the slugs have left these alone!

On the opposite side of this concrete square, I have a row of all my
plastic tubs that have been accrued over the years, each planted up with seeds of one description or another. Next to these are the strawberry tubs that haven't really produced as well as they could have.

They need thinning out and feeding up to ensure they continue to crop in years to come. It is from these tubs that all the runners get potted, so I do tend to have strawberry plants popping up all over the place and am constantly trying to think of where best they can go to ensure they grow, get sunshine and don't get attacked by birds or beasties.

This year, I am clearing out the raised bed where I planted all my Saffron crocus bulbs - the bulbs are still looking OK and the plants do grow, but I have never had a single flower from them. This leads me to believe that they don't like where they are at all! The raised bed can just be seen at right hand side of this photo.

This is how the hole in the concrete 'patio' area is looking now. Last year I
scraped it all out and made a mini-pond, lining it with bubble wrap and feed sacks, surrounding it with rocks and planting it up with cuttings taken from the bottom of the garden by the edge of the stream. I call it the critter garden, as it seems to attract visitors of all description, from toads to lizards and frogs. This is who was in it yesterday.

I added the bird table at the narrowest part and then turned the other half of the crumbling mess into a circular bed, where I planted many of the strawberry runners and then surrounded them with spinach beet to use for feeding the rabbit. Sadly, the rabbit is no more.

Beyond this, off the end of the concreted area, is where I made my blueberry bed for the three little bushes I got last year. This was constructed from the logs cut from a neighbour's conifer and I employed a little bit of eco-artistic licence to the final piece, which I call my log man bird table.

Blueberries like an ericaceous or acidic environment, as do heathers, so I add whatever tea leaves, pine needles and bark chippings I have to help these along. So far, so good - the only thing the slugs and snails have got are the sunflowers, which grew from falling bird seed that must have been there from winter. Behind this lies two old fish crates covered with my half price sun-tunnels. Each crate contains two cucumber plants.

So what is all this really about? We are doing our best to cultivate the wild garden, making the most of whatever can be salvaged and recycled, trying to grow plants from other plants and fighting what often feels like a losing battle against the elements, the insects, the slugs and the snails. What more can we do?

This is my fantastic bargain that I have been spurred into buying now rather than putting off any longer. It is approximately 15' long (4.5m) and just over 6' with and high (2m), comes complete with a fixing kit and delivery is FREE. Yes, folks, I have finally taken the plunge and bought myself the long awaited frugal poly tunnel! The vacant space in the middle of the garden is ABOUT 8' x 18' once fully cleared and this is what is going to fill that space. Now I know that some folks who may happen to read this post will wonder what the great excitement is all about but, for those of you who know me, you know how much I try to prioritise my spends while living in the middle of a renovation project but this purchase, which was on offer with £100 OFF the price, is something that I will put to great use during my battle with the elements and the critturs that foil my growing plans at every opportunity.

In memory of Jayjay - this will become the hub of my future growing enterprise of microholding and fundraising.



  1. Will be interested to know how the polytunnel growing goes. I am moving shortly and will be going from a small backyard (where I have had to grow things in pots) to a house with a proper garden at last - so I am wondering about getting a polytunnel myself (how effective it would be/how durable/etc). You've certainly put a lot of work into the garden as a whole - looking good.

    1. Good luck with the house move and graduating back to garden - if I remember correctly, you have a fair bit of knowledge in the self-sufficiency style veg growing? :) I'll let you know how this poly tunnel compares to the plastic greenhouse of similar style that we had on the farm - it eventually got mangled in a storm, which cast it clean over the garage and into the field beyond. LOL In saying that, it wasn't fixed down in any permanent way, just some broken bricks and old rope.

  2. I am very envious. Been hinting like mad at OH but he hasn't bitten yet.

    Looks great, will be SO good for your micro-holding - my friend uses hers all year and not just for growing things - in winter, she has a radio, books and a chair there to get some peace for an hour or two!

    Looking forward to hearing your plans for it and how you get on.

    1. I'll update as soon as I have seen the quality, although I'm not expecting lifelong durability from something costing less than £80 including the delivery. A few years of decent use from it would be good! :) Keep working on OH and keep watching for the offers.

  3. Thanks for the much anticipated updates! I LOVE your purchase, however when it is over 90 degrees F here every day in the US, I can't think of one right now!
    Wish you were near..plenty of composted manure to give you. I am overwhelmed and just too hot to be moving it around right now (do it all manually...). Could we see the house, please?

    1. Lynda, there are already posts on here with photos of the house, as I've been blogging the updates. They are few and far between, but if you click on the 'eco renovations' link, you should get a list of them (assuming I did that part correctly.)

      Not many occasions when we need to worry about 90 degrees over a prolonged period here in Scotland - more worried about having the poly tunnel up too soon in Soring and it collapsing under the weight of snow. LOL


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