However, the wild wind whistled through our fences and gave the freestanding trees a hard time, so we ended up using stacks of three spoilt-straw bales as windbreaks in front of each tree and then mulched the trees with the straw as the bales decomposed during the next growing season. We also started underplanting the trees with comfrey (Bocking 14), a useful dynamic accumulator. This we cut in summer and added it to the mulch to create more fertility.
The ecosystem was so damaged that slugs were a plague and would even crawl up the fruit trees to munch the leaves. Two strategies were implemented: we dug as many ponds as possible
Above: Brownies doing their Nature Badge in the garden.
Below: Rear view, showing passive solar extension, solar tubes and raised beds.
and got ducks. These lived in a pen by the veggie patch which by then was a mulched system. Next came chickens. We reared many ourselves. The runs were placed along the hedgerows and we grew edible berries up the wire fencing. One baby became a toddler and a new daughter arrived during this fruitful time.
Our children grew up foraging for wild strawberries, raw veg and top fruit and collecting fresh eggs with us. We started publishing Permaculture Magazine (1992) and the first temperate permaculture books in the world (1993) all from a back bedroom. It was a happy time, a time when we’d nip out to the garden to pick a salad for lunch and have meetings on the patio.
Right: Kentish cob nut, the largest of cobs.Moving OnBy 1998 we had eco-renovated the house and grown out of the bedroom office. Relocating work and being absent from home was an invitation to Mr Fox to eat all the poultry and we didn’t replace them. Publishing had become a demanding master which needed most of our attention. The remaining time was the children’s. We still went on slowly evolving the garden though. Over the years we built raised beds for the veg garden, renovated the greenhouse, added rainwater harvesting systems and planted more berries in the increasingly abundant fedgerow. We also added to the tree collection: Siberian pea tree, a truffle inoculated hazel, an own root stock peach grown from a pip obtained from ZEGG ecovillage in Germany, our lovely Bardsey Island apple, a Desert King fig, more Brown Turkey figs too in the fedgerow… The veg patch has gone from strength to strength and besides growing a lot of cut and come again salads, we grow
Top: Raised beds and greenhouse in late spring.
Above right: Plums and gages are particularly liked by the family, this is one of seven varieties.
Permaculture Magazine No. 63
www.permaculture.co.uk 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