The last blog update from the Patch was my birthday family mulching session back in December. I thought that now Nina and I are settling into life in Australia it was about time for a long distance update as the Patchworks family have been at it again.
Mum, Dad, Jonny, Clare, Ethan and Phoebe revisited The Patch in June to finish off the mulch on the elaeagnus and alder hedges along with some extra mulch for the walnut and Patchworks Pippin. They took plenty of photos and as you can see things are looking really good…
Mum mulching the elaeagnus hedge
The native hedge in blossom
Sea Buckthorn berry looking healthy
Ethan doing a grand job
Nina Eve’s medlar looking amazing!
All this green fingered work seems to have really inspired Mum and Dad. Mum has always been a keen gardener, it runs in the family, but since retirement her and Dad have given their garden an extra boost and this year their new veg patch featured in the village open gardens 2013. Mum says she has really diversified this year with mixed companion planting and plenty of pest distractors, not to mention tonnes of comfrey! I’m sure they were happy to get a bit of help from the grandchildren.
Mum looking very proud of her new raised beds. Good job Dad!
Cheeky smiles all round!
Phoebe definitely looks like she’s having fun!
A couple of weeks ago Nina and I received news of another visit to The Patch by Mum and Dad. They just can’t keep away! Maybe that’s because I keep asking for photos!
Much to our surprise and delight, the latest batch of pictures revealed the first fruits of our plantings. We have pears on the Williams along with red gooseberries and white currants. It’s only 2 years since the big tree planting and we have the first signs of productivity. Mum confessed that she hadn’t checked too many of the trees as she was worried about snakes but she did manage to pick 8oz of white currants!
The Williams Pear in fruit!
The Patchworks family visits, updates and photos really makes the distance between Norfolk and Australia smaller. Nina and I are truly grateful for the time and energy that you have put into the Patch. We hope that one day the fruits are abundant and that you can reap the benefits at harvest time.
We miss you
Posted in Random
Tagged Apple, England, Family, Food Forest, Fruit, Guilds, Mulch, Norfolk, Orchard, pear, Permaculture, The Patch, Walnut, William
One of our big concerns once our food forest was planted, and knowing that we would be leaving the country for an unknown amount of years, was how would our little fruit trees and bushes survive the encroaching grass, blackthorn and volunteer plants.
We had no idea at the time. There was no design element that we could think of, other than expensive, non natural sheet mulching techniques. We didn’t give that a second thought. Here’s where I believe design can happen organically, not necessarily at the offset, but when an idea comes to mind due to necessity.
Winter was fast encroaching and so was my 35th birthday. I am in China. I thought everyday about how our mulberry, cherries, apples, pears and sea buckthorn berries needed tucking in for winter. A cosy, thick bed of mulch to keep them roots warm and stave of the early grass growth of 2013.
I plucked up the courage and boldly requested my family to help with the “M” of OBREDIM – Maintenance. “If we can get a farmer to drop off 20 big bales of straw I’m sure it can be done in a half day” I asked squeamishly. Mum was keen and she asked that I email through some detailed instructions…
On my birthday, December 17th, I woke in China to check my emails. Not only had Mum written a great account of their “beautiful day” at the Patch but Clare had attached a whole photo album of the proceedings. We were so happy to see that the food forest had been mulched but more importantly Mum, Dad, Clare, Ethan and Phoebe confessed that they had had a really fun and enjoyable day.
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR ENTHUSIASM TOWARDS OUR ONGOING PROJECT AT THE PATCH. PLEASE FILL YOUR BOOTS WITH FRUIT IN 2013
The Family on their way…
Clare checking out the walnut
Ethan on the pile of bales
Keen niece and nephew
Greetings from a far
Couldn’t ask for a better birthday present
Dad handing out instructions
Phoebe loads a bale
Relaxing in the sun
They’re on it now!
Mum shifts the bales around
A beautiful day at the Patch
Hot elderberry cordial
Bit of maintenance on the tanks
A well earned rest
Nice and thick!
A winter bed…
Mum mulches the native hedge
In full mulching swing…
Clare looks satisfied
Spread it about!
Native hedge mulched
Ethan relaxes (in mulch)
Phoebe joins him
Perfect, thank you so so much
Posted in Appropriate Technology, Diploma, Environment, Food, Health, Permaculture, Travel
Tagged apples, Birthday, Blackthorn, China, Clare, Dad, Design, Ethan, Family, Food Forest, Fruit, grass, hay, Maintenance, mulberries, Mulch, Mum, Norfolk, OBREDIM, pears, Permaculture, Phoebe, remote maintenance, seabuckthorn, Spring, Straw, The Patch, volunteer lants, winter
Today we received the long anticipated news that our planning application was granted. We’ve been checking almost daily to see if there has been any change on the online application and what a relief to see that it has all gone through ok.
Nice to see a reference to key design considerations and a special mention in the permission details for “Sustainable Development in Rural Areas – The Council was particularly mindful of the following matters: – scale, design and materials appropriate to use and location – impact on landscape. The simple form of the building is considered appropriate to its use and location on an agricultural holding. The site is well screened and remote from residential properties. The proposal will not impact on the wider rural landscape.”
The full application form, design statement, neighbour comments and decision status can be found here
Posted in Appropriate Technology, Building, Environment, Permaculture
Tagged council, Design, Green Roof, Natural Building, Norfolk, Patch, Planning, planning permission, Solutions, sustainable development, Water
I’m writing this post from a blue washed rooftop in Chefchaouen, Morocco. We arrived a week ago after a fairly hands on last week at the Patch in England. We managed to do everything we felt we needed to do to leave it in a good place for the future.
The Main achievement was turfing, sealing, tidying and guttering the roof and setting up the water tanks. With the help of Dad and a few days graft we should now always have water on site to help keep the young fruit trees nourished in their early years. Still no news on the planning application however the water tanks are essential to good harvests in years to come. With more help this time from Mum and Nina’s tireless shit shovelling efforts we managed to sheet mulch every single tree and section of hedging that was planted last year.
Two or three soft fruits were planted around each fruit tree, and many interplanted with nitrogen-fixing shrubs, mostly, seabuckthorn berry. We laid thick sheets of cardboard and then dumped on a good load of old horse poo and mulched around each one, joining to form islands or guilds. Next went in comfrey root cuttings and on top we sewed a mixture of beneficial insect/bee plant seed, mineral miner seeds, herbs and basically anything we had from the seeds saved last year . For minimum effort and a few minutes sewing we produce the possibility of plenty of beneficial plants popping up. The alder hedge, elaeagnus hedge and the edible hedge all got heavily mulched that will hopefully kick start a growth spirt this year.
Nina put the veggy garden to bed under black plastic weighed down by tyres. This should ensure a weed free experience when we next want to use it. We had a general clear up and an all round nice “Bon Voyage” bonfire with Woody to mark the end of a massively productive year at the Patch. Here’s hoping friends and family can enjoy some fresh fruit soon…
Posted in Building, Environment, Permaculture
Tagged Companion Planting, Food, Food Forest, Fruit, Green Roof, Guilds, Hedging, Mulch, Natural Building, Norfolk, Patch, planning permission, Water
Recent objections to our planning application reviewed in a few short videos…
Posted in Building, Environment, Permaculture, Random
Tagged Green Roof, Natural Building, Nimbys, Norfolk, Patch, Planning, Solutions, Water
Happy new year everyone! We have not heard anything yet from the council regarding our planning application but we’re keeping our fingers crossed. More trees arrived from Martin Crawford at the end of November and we planted the remaining food forest specimens straight away. We also got a bunch of shrub and understory soft fruit and various other interesting bushes which we planted too. Using cardboard we heavily sheet mulched around each tree creating small guilds and covered over with plenty of 15 year old horse poo and then green waste top dressing for mulch. This should hopefully kill back the grass whilst providing some extra organic material to our sandy soil whilst the fruit trees are establishing. Work on the roof continued and we’re close to finishing off now. We’ve completed the turfing and put the weather boarding around the outside. A gutter for water catchment is all that’s needed to finish off. It’s a strange feeling putting in so much work at the patch and to be leaving it all behind but on our return to England we will have some well established fruit trees hopefully. Best news of all is that Nina and I booked our tickets to leave England and we’ll be heading off on our first leg to Australia by bus to Morocco in 2 weeks! From there we’ll begin to plan the rest of our journey and we’ll be doing the first of our Wwoof to Oz exchanges.
Posted in Building, Permaculture, Travel
Tagged Compost, Design, Food, Food Forest, Fruit, Green Roof, Guilds, Mulch, Natural Building, Norfolk, Patch, Shipping Container
When we arrived back to The Patch after a couple of music festivals in mid July we were surprised to find a planning enforcement notice attached to the new roof we had erected. It turns out that as we have less than 5 hectares we need to submit a planning application even for a small agricultural building like the one we have built. It has taken a little while to understand the requirements, gather the information and find the confidence to do the technical drawing myself but this weekend we made the submission online to Breckland Council. Fingers crossed. As well as the drawing which I really enjoyed doing I have learnt how useful google sketchup can be for 3D design. Check out the pics.
Posted in Building, Environment, Permaculture
Tagged 3D, council, Design, Green Roof, Natural Building, Norfolk, Patch, planning permission, Shipping Container, Sketchup, Technical Drawing
It’s that time of year again when Mum has an abundance of medlar fruit hanging on the tree in the front garden. In years gone by she has let friends in the village come and take them away but this year she decided to make some medlar jelly with a little help from me. You can pick them hard and let them blet but we allowed them to blet on the tree before picking them and also collecting the ones that had dropped to the ground to. In all we had 14lbs of fruit to play with.
Firstly we washed, rinsed and quartered all the fruit and then placed into a preserving pan and added just enough water to cover (half a pint to each pound of fruit). We then simmered for 30 to 45 minutes until soft and pulpy.
Next was the fun part of straining. Mum only had a small jelly bag so we utilised some thick stockings too. The important thing here is not to squeeze or force the pulp through the nets as this will produce cloudy jelly. We allowed ours to drip through the night.
Once we were happy that all the juice had dripped through we measured the amount of juice and made a note of it. Then we poured it into a clean preserving pan and brought to boiling point. We then added 650g of sugar to every litre of juice we had. At this stage we added the juice of 3 lemons.
We continued stirring until all the sugar was dissolved (stirring in one direction only reduces foam). We boiled rapidly until setting point was reached. To test this we put a blob of jelly on a fridge-cold saucer. Once cooled we ran a finger through it to see if it cracked. Mum then carefully poured the jelly into some already sterilised jars and voila! I think we’ll try it with some roasted pheasant tomorrow.
On returning from our road trip we came back to a very different Patch. As we move through autumn our vegetable garden has started to die back although there are still a few bits and pieces to harvest. The trees have started to lose their leaves and the medlar has dropped some fruit. The green roof is looking great and we’re really keen to get this finished in the next couple of weeks. Other jobs in the coming weeks will be the planting and mulching of a new delivery of fruit and other interesting trees as well as soft fruit and nitrogen fixers for the food forest. We’ll be planting and then mulching and adding other support plants to create balanced guilds that will have a better chance of survival in our absence.
A visit to see Paul in Sheffield was also on the cards and it was a great place to start some ground work for my diploma pathway. I made full use of Paul’s flat whilst he was at Uni and we even managed a walk in the Peak District which looks amazing at this time of year. After a quick stop over for a party in London, I travelled down to Bradford-upon-Avon for my belated Diploma induction and a catch up with Richard, Michelle and Grace. It was great to also see some other Diploma students and old friends permablitzing their lives!!! Couldn’t help a little mushroom hunt when I got back to Norfolk. Goose common is right next door to The Patch and is a great foraging spot. Only poisonous fungi about today though… Diploma work to do…
Posted in Food, Permaculture, Travel
Tagged Autumn, Diploma, Food, Food Forest, Friends, Fungi, Green Roof, Guilds, Mulch, Mushrooms, Nitrogen Fixers, Norfolk, Patch, Peak DIstrict, Soft Fruit, Veg, Wild Food
The first week in July and already our vegetable garden is producing an abundance of tasty food. Nina’s medlar has settled in nicely. Everything is mulched to hold moisture and suppress those volunteer plants. We seem to have no pests eating anything as Nina carefully chose where to position plants to benefit one another and exploit those niches…
Posted in Food, Health, Permaculture
Tagged Abundance, Beneficial Insect Plants, Companion Planting, Food, Fruit, Medlar, Mulch, Norfolk, Patch, Veg