Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Foraging in Your Own Backyard

There was probably a point where I thought that the next blog post I put up would be about the glorious construction of the garden wall, with pictures of it gleaming in the sun whilst a Golem sprinted up the steps to demonstrate how wonderful it is to have rear access to the property.

Alas, as you can probably guess, the wall is still not started, and the slope of doom persists. Of course, it's been there for months now, but somehow this last few weeks of waiting for the builder to finish the job before us is dragging on spectacularly. The monster job which is re-roofing 3 tile roofs, installing one green roof (probably), re-roofing 4 flat roofs with fibreglass, re-cladding the dormers, repainting the front of the house and possibly replacing the entire guttering system awaits us, but we can't do a thing to start it (apart from working out the nitty gritty of how the hell we're going to do it) until the wall is done. Sad times.

There are a few things I've been doing in the meantime though, and being me they are all about the permaculture. Although my design for the garden is nowhere near completed, I've been trying to think of positive things to do to while away the waiting for the wall, and what with Spring having Sprung, there are all the lovely plants which will one day grace our garden to think about.

My garden design will focus heavily on perennials, partly because they're a vital part of any productive permaculture system, but also because they are resillient enough to cope with changing tenants and changing priorities. A garden of annuals relies on a gardener with the time and energy to get it up and running every year, but in a house where the tenants may change relatively frequently, and where the work needed on the house might drain energy and attention away from the garden, this can't be relied on. Perennial plantings are relatively neglect-proof, and should produce edible produce even if they're completely left alone, and in years where there are people here who fancy applying some TLC, the plants will quickly respond and become more productive.

Our current plantings are all perennials in pots

So to add to the perennials we already house (mostly herbs and berries) we now have a sea beet, some mountain sorrel, and some water dropwort. Finn and I will soon be planting seeds of globe artichoke, fennel, watercress and nasturtium (not perennial, but a prolific self-seeder) to add to them, and whenever the chance arises I'll be adding plants to our pot collection so that when we're in a position to start on the garden, the plants are ready and waiting.

Sea beet with a (when it gets established) groundcover of mountain sorrel

Water dropwort ('Flamingo'), which tastes like a cross between celery and something else...
We'll soon be foraging for co-op meals from our diverse and low-maintenance garden, and in the meantime we get the enjoyment of hunting for plants in the wider world, and scouring the slope of doom for materials for paving and raised bed building. This is our current crop, and it's nothing to what we might be able to forage out before the builder backfills behind the new wall and buries it all again.
Bricks at the back and stone at the front.

And it still looks like this!

Just to balance this post out with news of what some other people have been up to, Rob and Flick have been painting in the spare room, and barring a second coat on the cupboard and some touching up, it's done. The tiles have been bought, but aren't up yet. If anyone out there adores tiling then feel free to rescue me from this task - I've taken it on but I'm rubbish at tiling! There's almost certainly lunch and some baked goods in it for you :D

Sven and Cass fitted the extractor fan to the kitchen window, and both the prepayment meters have gone so we're in the process of switching to Good Energy for gas and electric. We had a maintenance workshop and now have a much more holistic maintenance plan which will hopefully ensure that when we do work on one element of the house, we do as much as we can at once (hence the slightly daunting list of work to do while the house is scaffolded). Games have been played, tea has been drunk. House life ticks on.

Hopefully my next post will manage to feature our good and glorious wall, but we shall see. Wish us luck ;)

- Hannah