In March I was half way through my year of observation and I was on the allotment waiting list. Well, I can tell you that I shot to the top of that waiting list within a week and am now the proud tenant of a half plot. So, my design is for my back garden, my front garden and the allotment. That adds up to quite a bit of land.
I have talked about my year of growing (or not growing) here, so I won’t go into that again but I will say that getting this design down on paper is now my main priority for the diploma, and for my life really. We’ve spent this whole year doing stuff to the house and now we’re ready to move onto the garden but we can’t until I have finished designing it. When I have finished writing this post I am going to sit down with my companion planting books and do a random assembly of plants and other elements. Given my struggles with ‘having time’ this summer, I really need to pay careful attention to designing a garden which can look after itself – and be productive at the same time.
One major thing that has changed about this design since I got the allotment is that I have changed my focus from growing just high value veg to growing everything I grow in my veg box – potatoes and onions included. That’s my vision, to replace my veg box year round with things we have grown ourselves. Growing potatoes is really important to me because they’re a carbohydrate – you can live on them if you need to. I don’t want garden that is full of fancy stuff and doesn’t have any staples in it.
Next steps: Random assembly exercise
I seem to have missed the larder project out of my end of the winter round up, but I did a catch-up post about it in March. I continue to do an Infinity (bulk staples) order, make jams and chutneys and yoghurt and lactoferment. I didn’t do as much of that as I would like to this summer given the general insanity of everything. My garden design is going to contain stuff to be preserved and stored – grapes for raisins and tomatoes for passata in particular.
My main aims this summer were to build a solar dehydrator and get a pressure canner but alas I did neither of these things. The pressure canner is my joint Christmas and birthday present (for last year) and the only thing that is stopping me getting it is the fact that I need to import it from the US via a shipping forwarding company. It’s going to cost me more than the price of the canner to get it sent over here, as well and that is putting me off a bit. STOP PRESS!!! A bit of research has just told me that if I buy through Amazon (I know, boo hiss… this is a one off) then I don’t have to worry about calculating all of the shipping and duty. It’s still twice as expensive as it would be for an American person though. STOP PRESS AGAIN!!! I just bought it. It should be here in two weeks. And now my other half owes me £200… In my head I am just going to pretend it was £200 and that £100 of my present wasn’t shipping and import duties.
I will try to build the solar dehydrator this winter, ready for next summer/autumn. Though it seems silly to buy/make these things during a season when nothing really gets preserved, it’s probably a good idea to get to know the equipment before I need to process a lot of stuff. I haven’t really thought about when this design will be done. I suppose it’s when I have the equipment and skills to do all of the preserving methods that I am interested in – root cellaring, drying/dehydration, jamming, canning, lactofermentation. I am nearly there with this one, but not quite.
Next steps: Learn to use the canner when it arrives; find the dehydrator plans and discuss with Will.
I have never been quite decided about what the final three projects should be. In the end I decided recently that I didn’t need to add any new projects my diploma designs. I wanted the final three to be either designs I had already done (because in actual fact I have done far more than ten designs) or designs for things that would occur in my life whether or not I was developing a design for them.
Project 8 is the design for one of the secret projects. I have already designed it, am already implementing it, so really I just need to write this one up. We all know the likelihood of me doing that right now, don’t we.
Next step: Write up this design
Next spring, as part of the garden design, we are going to get some chickens. I would dearly love to not have to spend money on feeding them, so this design is about creating a closed loop chicken system. The system will involve kitchen waste (the feeding of which is kind of illegal here in the UK, oh well), deep litter composting systems (insect protein) and (lactofermented) spent grain from brewing. I want to know before hand whether this will provide all of the nutrients that a chicken needs so I am considering asking my local agricultural college whether any of their students would like to work on this as a project. Before I ask though, I need to work out what my goals are, so…
Next steps: Do visioning for Fat Hens project.
We’re currently trying for a baby, so it seems to make sense to do a design around this, though I am quite aware that planning anything might be completely pointless. I haven’t quite worked out what the limits of this design should be – after all most of my career-related designs have been about designing a child-friendly career. I think it might be to do with the day to day basics – sleep, food, clothes, how the house is arranged. Clearly this design needs some more thinking about.
Next step: Brainstorm ideas.
And that’s it. An update on all ten projects. It’s probably worth mentioning that I’d like to accredit at the international permaculture convergence this time next year. I am not sure if that’s possible, so I have tweeted them to find out. It would be good to have an end date for this thing. It might make me pull my finger out of my bum and write some things up.