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
Our second stop in Bulgaria, and after a couple of days in the lovely city of Plovdiv, was with Dimo and his worms. We had arranged a couch surf with another guy in the area but when he had to go the Beglika festival as a helper we were told Dimo would take us in and probably show us a thing or two. We were grateful for the opportunity to understand a low impact livelihood and help Dimo out on the worm farm for a few days.
He kindly picked us up from Kazanlak and we went for a family visit, an off road adventure and a swim before cooking up a late dinner and sampling the stupidly cheap but very tasty Bulgarian beer.
We spent the next few days at the worm farm. Dimo collects fresh cow poo, mixes it with straw, moistens it and sets the worms to work. It takes a few months for them to eat their way through the feast but the end result is weed free, high water retentive, humus rich soil, perfect for growing annual veg and seedlings. He bags the castings and sells them to customers around Bulgaria. During the process the worms also double in mass and he receives an additional income from them.
Dimo also doubles up his worm heap as a plant nursery, stacking functions and making best use of his space. He grows tomatoes and paulownia, a fast growing lightweight timber perfect for tool handles. He uses no chemicals and keep his mole population in check using castor plant which exudes chemicals that the moles dislike.
Dimo also produces his own biofuel from waste vegetable oil in a processor that he built himself. He powers his truck and his tractor from the fuel, true to his business name WastNoMo.
We loved our time with Dimo. We saw some great places, Thracian tombs, old communist monuments and natural beauty. The day before we left he took us to visit Paul of the Balkan Ecology Project who was happy to show us around his permaculture inspired garden. We were to see them both again at their BalkanEP venue at Beglika Festival.
Posted in Appropriate Technology, Building, Environment, Food, Health, Music, Permaculture, Travel, Wwoofing
Tagged Balkan Ecology Project, BalkanEP, Beer, Beglika, Biofuel, Bulgaria, Caster, Castor, Couchsurfing, Dimo, Kazanlak, Kran, Manure, Organic, Paulownia, Permaculture, Polvdiv, Straw, Thracian, Tomatoes, travel, WasteNoMo, WorkX, Worms