In a permaculture garden such as ours, things are often closer to a natural state. Things are more chaotic, often without the straight rows and order of a traditional vegetable garden. Things look messy. Some plants are allowed to go to seed – for example a radish in the polytunnel, which I am allowing to flower so we get the delicious seed pods and then of course some seeds to plant next year.
The polytunnel is probably fuller than it ought to be – peas and beans spill over the paths and tomatoes crowd ever upwards on the other side. But by using vertical gardening techniques and building frames for the cucumber plants and some squash to grow up we have been able to fit more into a smaller space.
Out the front, the vegetable beds are also beginning to look more abundant, in spite of the mixed and unpredictable weather we have been having.
It all may look chaotic but underneath it all there is order. We are producing almost all the vegetables we need now – salads galore, mange tout and peas, the first few broad beans, potatoes, onions, spring onions, tiny garlic, a few tomatoes, radishes, chard, spinach, calabrese. The calabrese are all almost ready to harvest – we have already had a couple of the heads. But after the main heads have been picked I will not uproot the plants as they will still provide many more little heads over the weeks to come.
Next month the peas and broad beans will be in full swing, we should have some courgettes too, I hope. Not everything is perfect, but that is the way it should be. I love the fact that it is all so natural.
At the moment we have plenty of everything – except time. I have been really busy what with working full time and the garden and everything else. The garden has begun to yield produce in abundance. We have mountains of salad, spring onions, radishes, mange tout peas, spinach, chard, half-grown red onions that we are picking off and the first batch of first early potatoes from the polytunnel. There are also several herbs growing very nicely and the odd handful of tomatoes from the indoors plants. We are getting plenty of eggs too – around three or four every day.
The weather has been lovely this week so everything is coming along in leaps and bounds. The broccoli are forming and are currently about three centimeters across. The pods are forming on the broad beans too, so we are looking forward to a time of even greater plenty ahead.
We are getting to know the chickens now and they are definitely getting to know us. They are all getting very curious and seem happy to see me when I go into the orchard/ forest garden to see them.
Things I have learned about our hens:
– Henrietta has taken a liking to me and comes running whenever I go near, far quicker than the others. She also likes my wedding ring and keeps trying to peck it.
– Gladys likes to lay her eggs in amongst some flowers under a bush, rather than in the nesting boxes like the others.
– Martha is the one who loves water – she comes running if we get the watering can or hose out. She also likes shiny things like my rings and is very curious.
– Poor Dorcas is least feathered and smallest and seems to be at the bottom of the pecking order. Still not sure who is in charge, but Dorcas is on the fringes a little. She does get plenty of food but I think she waits until last.
The most feathered two are Florence and Clara and they are a little harder to tell apart but I am sure their idiosyncrasies will reveal themselves before too long.
I have also learned that the hens love pea shoots (almost all gone from the wild bit of the forest garden I had planted for them) and our girls really, really love comfrey! They have eaten all the leaves from my two comfrey plants. Great news for their nutrition, but I am going to have to fence off the comfrey patch until it is established!