Permaculture - Spring 2010

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squashes, pumpkins, garlic, beans, peas, asparagus, spring onions, spinach, beets, lettuce, a variety of spuds and we’ve even had modest success with sweet potatoes and oca. The basic rule is that whatever we like, especially the kids, we grow. The greenhouse is put entirely to borders with a small path in the middle and we fill it with tomatoes, chillies, sweet peppers and aubergines in summer and carrots, mizuna, spinach and overwintering plants in winter.This YearA visit to Martin Crawford’s forest garden last year sent us home inspired to make the ground cover layer of our forest garden more productive. So we’ve started by adding groundcover raspberries

(Rubus nepalensis and Rubus tricolor), choke weed, more gooseberries, perennial kale and various mints. We decided to follow Martin’s strategy of ground cover establishment and mulch and plant up one small area at a time rather than trying to get a large area covered in one go. We reckon that concentrating on establishing plants with this ‘slowly, slowly’ small area approach is more likely to succeed.

We were going to remove the redundant kids’ swing, but following their protest we reached a compromise and it is now a support for self-fertile kiwi. We’ll weave a kiwi sanctuary around the old frame and heighten it with coppiced hazel. And Next...This winter we are planting a late fruiting plum, persimmon, Chinese quince, Yellowhorn, more groundcover raspberry, Nepalese pepper, Chinese dogwood, goji and honey berries, and lots of globe archichokes. All of these additions will enhance the forest garden and should hopefully be hardy enough to fruit in our climate.

Above: Planters inside the kitchen enable versatility. In the spring they are used as a seed nursery.

The garden makes us deeply happy. We love everything about it: the insects, birds, blossom and fruit, the burgeoning veg, the sanctuary of the greenhouse and shed on rainy days, the glory of a semi-wild natural system. There are many things we would like still like to do – and these will come in time – but what we have already is a testament to permaculture design and the healthy resilience of nature’s biodiversity

Maddy and Tim and their garden will be featured in a new six part BBC2 Gardeners’ World spin-off series, The Edible Garden, presented by Alys Fowler starting in March 2010.

From time to time Maddy and Tim hold garden tours / permaculture gardening classes for small groups. If you are interested, please contact Maddy at PM.

Above: Raised beds showing courgette and tomatoes using the heat stored by the dense, black tractor tyre composter. Right: Runner beans grown immediately outside the glazed kitchen provide welcome shade in summer.

No. 63 Permaculture Magazine