The Blog has been quiet this spring as everyone has been busy with site infrastructure, sowing seeds, planting out, and trying to get on top of the weeding. The long cold spring weather has delayed plants but the sudden warmth and plenty of rain caused a sudden spurt of growth. It’s a pain to have to battle the unwanted plants but it has been a joy to have a wet spring and see the self-seeded and perennial plants thrive. I was looking at some photos of this time last year and we were just at the end of a dusty drought – very little rain and temperatures of 30+ degrees.
In early spring we organised an area for mini-plots (12 m2 each) which are being used by people new to growing food or those who want to try permaculture techniques – check the mini-plot page for more details. The greenhouse has been constantly in use and the home-made planters from all the scrap-wood Tom could find and are now full of tomato plants. The site infrastructure is steadily improving with donations of wood from friends of the project and we hope to get more soon to make our open-air kitchen which will be a perfect outdoor classroom. The willow which was collected by the TTPermatuin gang back in freezing January has now helped to frame the test-beds, and nearly all paths have been cut and lined with sand.
All the gardens are coming to life now. The -14C temperatures this winter destroyed the cardoons and the perennial broccoli in the perennial garden and meant that there was no hope of the South American Oca and Mashua tubers surviving. But nature is pretty wonderful – we had a miraculous ‘re-spouting’ of one broccoli plant and one Mashua seedling had randomly survived in the mulch. The paths which are seeded with red clover have gone crazy and been harvested 3 times already to make mulch for the Hazelip beds. Suspicions over the fertility of the Hazelip beds, by the way, have been knocked on the head by the health and abundance of weeds that thrive there. It has been so rainy that only two weeks after thorough weeding it becomes a riot of the ‘wrong’ kind of green. And it is a lot bigger and lusher than even last year’s rainy summer. Hopefully that’s a good sign for the edibles we’ve started to plant in so far (broad beans, shallots, onion sets, and sugar snap peas), as well as for the garlic which has started to grow like crazy after having dissappeared and being declared dead last summer!
Two new garden areas are also underway this spring. The ‘alternative’ herb garden planting is in Annemarie’s capable hands, and the feature circular pathway is Carl’s work of art. Collecting the stones nearly killed the suspension on Tom’s car so it’s great to see this particular donation to the project looking so good. Tom has been happily filling gaps on site with potatoes which are now up and looking strong. The other garden newly under development is the ornamental kitchen garden. Like the perennial and forest gardens the quest for all the species has been long and is not complete but I am making a start and hope to collect more for next year.
Lots happening and lots more to do!