Archive for February, 2016

In the coming months and even years, I will be posting some recommended Heirloom, also known as Heritage plant varieties which I have personally tried out in my small typical UK garden (South East UK climate region). I have one main seed supplier whom have, as one of their goals, maintaining certain seed varieties and ensuring they don’t go extinct!

Unfortunately, These seed varieties may not be available worldwide and the supplier can only legally ship to Europe however, many of these seed varieties area from outside of Europe so you may be able to track them down locally yourself!

The Pumpkin variety I recommend is a French Heriloom named ‘Galeuse d’Eysines, it has this name as it produces a warty surface once mature which is not any kind of GMO Malfunction or weird cause of Hybridization, I do not promote GMO’s and neither does the supplier realseeds, this is a genuine Heirloom / Heritage Variety.

One of the fruits last year was over 4 Kilograms (8.8 lbs+) and the flesh is very thick, the plants also climb / sprawl well so therefore are great on a trellis, the foliage is not severely prolific so a 10 ft long trellis should be fine to hold around 4 – 5 plants.

Why do I insist on growing pumpkins if I have such a small growing space? the answer lies in Permaculture practice, you need to look at not only plant yield but also if you can store the produce to last longer into the following season/s. With pumpkins you can store sometimes into March and in some lucky cases people have been able to store up into May (given the right conditions of course). The other point I would like to make is that I only grow Pumpkins vertically on a trellis at the back end of the garden so ensuring that I am not shading out any other plants, in front of this home made Bamboo Trellis (Reusing / Recycling), I grow Tomatoes, Peppers, Aubergines (Eggplant), and Courgette (Zucchini).

I have been meaning to post on the Hugelkultur method for around a year now and have finally gotten to doing it! I’ve gone through all of my own personal pictures to show you my own experience installing and now after one year, my experience with the system.

Traditionally, the Hugel system is a year on year progression whereby in the first year, you are meant to only grow shallow rooting crops such as lettuces, then follow on the second year and third with larger crops until you are growing tomatoes, peppers etc.

well, I Cheated! haha, I also got away with cheating so far with some amendments.
Ok, so a Hugelkultur bed is basically large cut tree logs placed in a small dug out trench (supposed to only be a few inches deep) which are topped with smaller logs, which are then topped with branches, then sticks, twigs, leaves and finally the layer of ‘sod’ which will then have a layer of compost or soil added over it to plant in. (sod is upturned chunks of grass and roots)

The purpose of this system is for the logs and the rest of the organic matter sitting on top of the logs to slowly decompose over a long period of time (up to ten years +) which provides a good, nutrient rich soil amendment or compost bed which you can grow edible plants / crops on.

In the above images, you see the main 7 layers, I finally had the last (8th) layer which was the rest of the Top Soil, I made the planting layer much thicker than traditional Hugel Beds so in order to be able to immediately grow the main crops I go for such as Tomatoes, Pumpkins etc. The way that I cheated includes maintaining hole cavities to ensure that air is able to penetrate deep down ensuring it remains Aerobic. My Hugel Bed was dug deeper than usual as I wanted the logs to penetrate deeper to condition the heavy clay subsoil and also counter the builders rubble that I came across after digging about half a space deep!
After 10 years my garden beds will be far far more natural and organic compared with my neighbours.

All of this was done and completed before Winter was over (2015) and a final layer of semi  mulched leaves was placed on top of the bed to encourage the worms to remain closer to the surface and condition the soil before spring. NOTE: In the photo’s you see a small three foot wide hole, due to time constraints I could only make the Hugel Bed in sections at a time, the entire bed was about 4 meters long by 80cm wide (13 ft x 2 ft 7 in) once completed.

Success? YES! I grew Pumpkins, Tomatoes, Peppers, Oca Tubers, Nasturtium and Courgettes (Zucchini) on this bed with ease!, I have also discovered a new trick to maintain breathing cavities which I will update Here in the days / weeks coming, to ensure the system stays aerobic.
The Permaculture genius Sepp Holtzer is said to be the pioneer of the Hugel Method, I have read his book: Sepp Holtzer’s Permaculture, I highly recommend this book even if you are not interested in Permaculture but have an interest in growing food on any scale!

Below I have a few images found online that will help in understanding the Hugelkultur method better, I have a very small piece of land and it is not mine, so I cannot simply cut out part of the lawn and follow the general method of Hugel Beds, hence why I stuck to the actual flower beds which restricted the size and working area.


At the end of the upcoming growing season I will definitely come back with a new post updating on what crops were grown and any observations whether positive or negative regarding my Hugel System … Don’t Be Scared To Experiment !

If you live in the UK, you may be aware that every year around November, the big shopping chain ASDA usually sells bare rooted fruit trees in store at a good low price (usually £5 each).

orchard

Create Your Own Inexpensive Mini Orchard

When you consider that a young (probably same age) fruit tree sells at the major garden centre stores like HomeBcase and B&Q for minimum £10 per tree, this is a great bargain! The only difference is that perhaps (although I’m not sure) the trees in B&Q or HomeBase might be slightly older and able to bare fruit the same year or season after purchasing (keep in mind, the trees in the latter are potted whilst in ASDA they are bare root).
Now, November is well gone and ASDA have sold off all of their stocks since around December, but at the moment, the Tesco Superstores have just received their stocks of bare rooted fruit trees and soft fruit such as blackberries, raspberries etc.
Although they are slightly more expensive per tree (£6), you can save by buying two trees for £10.

A friend of mine told me his Tesco Superstore also had Cherries (Cherry ‘Stella’) on sale, my local one only had the following in stock:

  • Two Pear varieties including the well known ‘Conference’ pear
  • Four Apples (Cox’s Orange Pippin, Jonagold, Discovery & Golden Delicious)
  • One Plum (Victoria)

This may mean that the stock has already been around for some weeks so I would advise anyone with a garden or allotment to get to one asap! The trees are grafted on dwarfing root stocks and therefore are set to grow to a maximum height of 3 – 3.5 meters (9ft 10in to 11ft 5in) which is ideal for home growing and harvesting.

I would advise you to visit the store a few times in one or two weeks to be able to catch the new stock replenishment.

One comparison note I would like to advise anyone interested between the ASDA trees and the Tesco ones is, The ASDA ones come with full information on the year on year pruning regime, the root stock info, what pollination partners the tree needs (if not self pollinating), where best to plant & when to expect fruit etc. whilst the Tesco ones only advise how to plant. One other point that seems to be a positive about the Tesco trees is that the stem thickness seems quite a bit larger and this likely means more mature plants that may develop fruit sooner!

If any readers here know whether the large Sainsburys also stock bare rooted fruit trees please do comment below and lets us know which part of the year they usually stock them!