At the risk of becoming seriously eccentric, here is another post on building with pallets.  This site has an amazing range of projects built with pallets – from some that clearly need to be hidden, to some that need to be shouted from the (pallet-built) rooftops.

I love this shed (found halfway down the page):

And some of the wood sheds are giving me ideas . . . .

 

The carp have arrived, and seem to be enjoying their new home. It was slightly surreal coming home to a box of live fish, but after a gentle introduction to our tanks they all swam off happily, showing no ill effects.

We got a couple of kilos of carp food delivered with the fish, but as they’re far more omnivorous than the trout we’re keen to try something a bit more home-grown.

Some of our sumps are doing well at growing duckweed so I thought that would be a good start and added a net-full of duckweed to their tank.

They’re much gentler feeders than the trout, so I haven’t seen them aggressively attacking clumps of weed, but it is steadily disappearing.

At this stage, with tiny digestive systems, they need to be able to “graze” through the day, and I think the duckweed helps with that between their main feedtimes.

As they grow we’ll try to expand their diet further to see if we can eventually produce all their feed in-house – ideally from waste, or areas we’re not using for our food.

About a year ago, when I dug the last garden beds, I cut and piled the turf upside-down in this great mound.

In theory this was supposed to break down into nice rich soil, with no trace of the grass left.

In reality I have a very dry pile of turf pieces. The grass is dead but has hardly broken down at all, I’ve been using the pile to fill in the bottom of the latest beds I’m digging so it’ll probably finish its decomposition there, but it’s fair to say that this experiment has been a bit of a failure. In future I’ll either dig the turf straight into the bottom of my double-dug beds, or if I’m making a pile like this I’ll make sure to keep it damp and see if that helps.

Here’s what the turf sections look like when you dig them out of the pile:

 A busy spring has left us a little behind on the garden, with far fewer crops ready than we had last year. I also hadn’t made any progress on completing our garden beds. Since last Summer we’ve had 375 sqft dug of our proposed 800 sqft (eight 100 sq ft beds). I haven’t had a decent chance to dig any more for this year’s planting, but that all changed this weekend.

Fortunately I had laid some weed-proof fabric over the area for the next two beds, and so, since Autumn, the grass, moss and weeds had been slowly dying back. When I peeled this back earlier in the year the grass was still surviving, but yesterday it had all gone!

Digging this bed was so much easier than the previous ones. The remaining grass roots made the top layer a little difficult, but nothing like trying to get through turf. I also used a different technique for the digging too. Previously I’ve removed the turf and stacked it separately, but it’s been suggested by some of our visitors that it’d be better to put it straight into the bottom of the area I’m digging. I’m double-digging these beds so that’ll mean the remaining roots and weeds will be about two feet down, so they should just break down nicely, with no chance of them re-colonizing the bed. We’ll see!

Now I just have to work out what to plant in it! At the moment it looks like our new Broccoli patch, to be followed by our winter veg bed.

Nearly two-and-a-half years ago I posted this video as an introduction the growing philosophy that we we’re going to use here at the eco-house. Since then we’ve been busy implementing it and we’re pretty impressed. We’re using John Jeavons’ GROW BIOINTENSIVE methods, with deep beds, lots of compost and really closely spaced plantings. In the beds where we’ve gone for it properly – like last year’s potato beds – we’ve had almost no weeding to do, and some reasonable yields in spite of our inexperience. Here’s the good basic video introduction to what we’re trying to follow:

I know people who find my obsession with growing our own food a little strange, but when you look at the challenges faced by farmers, and the fragility of the food supply chain it all becomes clearer.

The BBC’s Farm for the Future is one of the best programmes I’ve seen for highlighting the challenge faced by British farmers in the face of Peak Oil. It’s longer than most of the videos I share, but it really is worth taking the time to watch it – unless you could be outside, gardening:

Now this is a bit of a quirky inclusion to our library – it’s directly reprinted from the 1940’s edition, and so is not the most up to date, but I do have a bit of a thing for wartime cooking and gardening books.

When originally published, this was the Government-supported manual designed to turn us into a nation of growers. As a result it is a surprisingly good, down-to-earth guide to becoming a productive gardener. It covers everything you’d expect: Planning crops, tools, all the different vegetables, fruit and flowers, pests, poultry, bees, and how can you resist a book with a chapter entitled “Rabbits for Flesh & Fur”.

As well as being a good basic intro to traditional gardening techniques, its extra dimension is that of thrift. In these austere times, learning how to garden frugally is a great skill, and so this book is elevated beyond novelty purchase and into a (mostly) serious part of our library. In fact I’m just off to re-read the sections on Bees & Chickens now!

I got our copy for £1 from a discount bookshop, but you should be able to get them from your local bookshop or it’s only £2.80 from Amazon – follow this link –Make Your Garden Feed You, and the Trafford Eco House will get some money from your purchase (it won’t cost you any more).