Posts Tagged ‘Permaculture’

I just wanted to say that with only a few years under my belt growing Onions, I can personally claim that Onion from seed (Preferrably from a good Heritage seed supplier) does far better than from sets (mini bulbs pre-grown to a small easy-to-handle size).

Yes, onion from seed are (or at least Seem to be) quite finniky / delicate to handle but Don’t let this put you off! The results are far better in my opinion.

Onion seed vs sets

Heritage Onion from Seed (LEFT) vs Commerically Available Onion Sets (RIGHT)

Take note that in the above photo, I grew Two types of Onion set and both were just as bad in terms of bulb swell and overall failure (Red Karmen and Stuttgart)

Why do (did) I still grow Onion from sets if I seem to have such better results from seed? Because this was my first proper season from start on my ‘new’ allotment and I came across a good deal in Lidl I think it was, for a bag of around 100 bulbs it was something ridiculous like $0.69p. So I decided to do a comparison test since I now have a much larger space to play around in.

Pros and Cons for both parties (Pro’s highlighted in Bold):

  • SETS:
    Can be contaminated with fungal growth or spores from storage or the production facility,
  • Most (probably 50-80% in my experience) didn’t get much larger than the little bulb that went in! (Don’t throw them away, make pickles!),
  • Need netting in the first weeks to prevent birds etc. from pulling them out before they establish,
  • Will need constant watering until they establish,
  • Are convenient if a Gardener is overwelmed with small seedlings on all available windowsills etc,
  • Save on plastic pots and compost,
  • SEEDS:
  • Are quite delicate when small,
  • Need one pot and compost per plant (or group of plants if following Multi Sowing),
  • In one year I had all of my onion seed attract aphid really early (February / March if I remember correctly?), however, that was well before I found out how to control them,
  • Have a much more well developed root system and romp away shortly after planting,
  • Swell up quicker too,
  • Far more disease resistance when compared,
  • Better options to choose from (such as storage length, taste, size etc.),
  • Establish quicker so need less tending,
  • Do not need netting,
  • Higher bulb-swell success rate as per observation (larger bulbs),
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I came across this festival via a pamphlet I got at the London Permaculture Festival last week and decided to help promote it, unfortunately the date of the event is just next week and is far too late for me to be able to even attampt to attend. I will now hopefully be able to book it for next year if possible …

This years event will be held between Thursday 10th to Saturday 13th of August 2017 and you can still book tickets on their website.

o g f 2017 ao g f 2017

Watching the video (3.5 mins long) this is definitely an event which is worthwhile to go to, I’m sadly going to miss the opportunity this year, it looks excellent especially for kids!

For those who are unable to watch the video or stream it for some reason, the following are some of the events and things to do at the festival based on last year’s video:

  • Archery,
  • Off Grid College,
  • Crafts and Tech area,
  • Well Being Area,
  • The Wildwood,
  • Off Grid Kids Area,
  • Live Music Barn,
  • Eco Build Demos
  • Organic Food and Drink,
  • Family Camping.

Another World Is Possible

Off Grid Festival Website (Click Here).

Other courses / talks on offer are:

New Economy – Permaculture – Eco-Build – 12v Technology (solar / wind power) – Bushcraft – Growing Food – Low-Impact Living – Land – Social Enterprise – Community Housing – Energy – Forest School – Conflict Resolution – Foraging & Wild Medicine – Yoga – Dance & Meditaion

Honestly, I’m contemplating faking a semi serious illness to get off from work now …. 🙂

Lon Perm Fest 17 banner

London Permaculture Festival 2017

We have 15 days left for the London Permaculture Festival of 2017, For full details (opening times, address, entrance fees etc. Please Click Here on the previous post).

My personal three favourite attractions at the event are The Rare Plant Nursery, The book store and the Workshops.

They have updated the itineary for the Festival and the Workshops which are free (part of the entrance fee) which you can attend, as follows:

Workshops in 2017 include:

  • Maddy Harland: Climate change, carbon sequestering and restoring ecosystems
  • Mark Ridsdill Smith: Growing food without a garden – the six secrets to success in container growing
  • Andy Goldring: The Thriving Communities project – raising funds and support to tackle disadvantage across the UK with permaculture
  • Tomas Remiarz: Forest gardening in practice for homes, communities and enterprises
  • Kevin Mascarenhas: Business as a living system inspired by natural patterns
  • Mary Rawlinson: Building with Straw Bales
  • Robin Grey & Rachel Rose Reid: A music, poetry and storytelling circle on land and housing rights from the Tree Acres and a Cow team
  • Alex Laird: Living medicine: Self care with food & herbs
  • Ben Cullen: OLIO free app – Join the food sharing revolution!
  • Mich Thill: Permaculture livelihood
  • Chloe Anthony: Introduction to permaculture as a design system
  • Sue Amos: Composting for urban gardeners
  • Cecilia Litvinoff & Pamela Adams: Making permakids green, organic and fearless
  • Nat Mady: Introduction to permaculture
  • Les Moore: Sociocracy
  • Randy Mayers: Introduction to permaculture
  • Ian Westmoreland: Making your own solar panels
  • Mary Spyrou: Natural dyeing
  • Coco: Tyre Furniture Skills
  • Kamal Simpson: Nature storytelling
  • Cafe Cairo at the Festival
  • Garden tours of Cecil Sharp House Permaculture Learning and Demonstration garden
  • Permablitz London Live!
  • Families at the Festival
    • Face painting
    • Nature storytelling
    • Garden trail
    • Felting
    • Nature art
    • Meet the hens
    • Wriggly worms
    • Mini beasts
    • and much more!

Hi everyone, It’s been ages since I have posted anything, as you may be guessing, it’s because of the growing season! Being the owner of two gardens (one is an allotment) you can mostly understand that I have my hands full!

In the meantime, other than the news that things might go quite well for me this year on the allotment side, I have gotten hold of a nice handy little A4 companion planting guide which can be printed out and stuck at the back of a shed door, inside a greenhouse or in a gardening notebook.

Companion Planting Guide

Unfortunately when printed out (at least with my printer), the black text seems to be a little faded.

I hope this helps you out with your planting in the meantime whilst I spend time away from the interweb, many updates are in the pipeline, but for now …

I just came across this interview on Alchemy Radio (An online alternative podcast / show) a couple of days ago, Dr. Wayne has good plans and future transition options for a better future for worldwide society.

alchemy

Dr. Wayne speacks about various subjects such as water retention / sustainable regeneration, aquaponics, land regeneration, Permaculture, Free courses online etc.

Find the interview Here: https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/alchemyradio/episodes/2017-04-27T10_54_41-07_00

 

 

Some of you may have heard a few people making the statement: ”I am a no dig / no till gardener” what they meant about that is that they do not follow the standard of turning or rotavating their soil every year especially in the Winter.

serveimage

Woodchip Soil Amending – year 1 and 2 onwards

No Dig gardeners do a little bit of digging, but only what is necessary such as digging a hole to place a plant in it’s final outdoor location. They Do Not however, systematically dig / till the soil every year.
One of the arguments used to justify this ficticious practice is that they are bringing up nutrients which are / have leeched deep down.
Gardeners the country over, including very experienced people on Allotments have no actual clue about the sub surface bacteria and how they are exposing these beneficial organisms to the elements and also burying them too deep which kills them off!
In permaculture we call it the Soil Food Web and it comprises the entire system from soil microbes, to fungi mycelium, the plants, moisture, decomposing matter etc…

Nature does the work for us, we just need to learn to observe and only intervene by taking advantage of the observed clues, one good example is with the Austrian Farmer Sepp Holzer, he noticed as a boy that Strawberries grow much better and produce larger / jucier fruit when stones were placed beside the plants, he also noticed how White Clover also helped (Nitrogen Fixer).

The below image describes a better understanding of exactly how the different organisms in the ‘Soil Food Web’ play their roles which interact with other organisms in the system:

soil food web

If for example, you buy a house or start a garden somewhere and you find that the soil is heavy clay, you will of course need to dig and place soil amendments (preferrably natural) in the first year on a once off occasion, thereafter only an annual surface layer of mulch is needed to feed the system with fresh compostable material, nature literlaly does the rest and after a longer period of time you will have a very healthy soil system on that particular patch of land.

So, a few bags of clean sharp sand to help break up the clay, perhaps a few bags of compost and I would say as much woodchip as can be obtained, these materials should be worked into the soil up to the depth of perhaps of one spade blade. If your woodchip is fresh, you should not grow anything in this soil for at least a year, so this year you could at least use the space to host a row of pots which will hold plants for this one season, next year you will grow directly in the ground.

Rotovating or working the soil every year destroys the food web and basically resets it everytime, in the case of using a rotovator on heavy clay, the blades actually compact the ground under the bed being prepared and pretty much can cause this layer to become a water barrier, this I have seen first hand and the plot in question was always flooded at certain times of the year … In my whole opinion, using a rotovator is only necessary in the first year of soil amandment.

If you have a perennial weed problem (weeds which die down in winter and re-sprout from sub surface root networks in spring) you can use sheet mulch (aka lasagna mulch) after your soil amendment is added and then your final layer of the woodchip or mulch layer of your choice.

I challenge any skeptics to do a control experiment where they dedicate half of their beds to a no dig with mulch method and see the difference year after year …

Woodchip is a great soil amendment and adds nutrients into the soil slowly, I have observably proven this to myself last year on my Allotment where I stashed a few wheelbarrows of woodchip on a section of my plot because otherwise the communal woodchip would likely have been finished by the time I needed some.
Once I dug my pond out, I covered the mound of woodchip with the soil from within the pond, about 6 months later I finally started a new project in the place of the mound of soil where I discovered the very well composted woodchip and noticed when digging that the topsoil layer was darker within a few inches under the topsoil line, when I compared this to a section just a meter away, the soil was lightly coloured and only darker very close to the surface line…

Below is a great video proving and showing from day one to 8 years on, the soil is even dug down seriously deep to prove how far the amendment reached until the soil quality becomes poor again.

 

Important Note: If you obtain free woodchip from your local Tree Surgeons, always ask what tree/s were chipped! Basically, Broad Leaf are usually Alkaline or Neutral PH (Oak is Acidic though) and Coniferous are Acidic PH, So use Conifer Woodchip for pathways as less weeds will germinate amongst the mature rotting chips as well as a mulch for Acid loving plants like strawberries and Blueberries. Use the Broad Leaf for your beds and as a soil amender!

Video courtesy of youtube channel OneYardRevolution