Sunday, 27 December 2015

Garden planning on our smallholding

We've been in our new home for a month today and are beginning to settle into a gentle rhythm. Today Mr J and I took a wander right around the garden and paddock looking at jobs that need doing soon, sooner and also later, and discussing ideas for creating our fruit and vegetable garden.

The paddock is a little under half an acre which is huge for feeding the two of us, but we plan to become part of our local food cooperative and to sell some of the surplus at the farm gate. The area is reasonably flat but is windswept with strong breezes coming off the estuary, so we have been thinking about our options for windbreaks around the perimeter.

My first choice is a hedge comprising native trees and bushes, flowering and nut trees, wild roses and honeysuckles. But this will take time to establish so in the meantime I will be using windbreak fabric to provide some shelter.

We've decided to draw up a plan of how we'd like the fruit and veg garden to look but only develop half of it to start with, simply because it would be a mammoth task to do all at once. We have a budget of, well, pretty much zero to achieve what we want, so bed and borders will be dug out of the field and as and when we can, we will cover pathways with old carpet and bark chippings. Raised beds can then be created around the beds and borders a few at a time when we get the wood and over the years as compost heaps give us more and more composted material, the soil levels within the raised beds will increase (or at least that's my hope).

I've suggested that we create one or two chicken or duck enclosures on the uncultivated half of the garden, which would give the chickens access to a different area from where they wander now, but keep them off the vegetable garden. Whilst we have just three chickens at the moment, plans are for more to arrive in the spring and for ducks too. This idea would also save us from an awful lot of mowing of grass, a task for which neither Mr J or I have a great passion.

Each evening I spend a little time researching, reading, watching something related to creating our organic smallholding. I thought I knew a bit about gardening having had quite a large garden previously, but creating an organic productive, functional and attractive garden on this scale is new for us both and we want to try, as much as possible, to get it right first time. How successful we are remains to be seen!

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