In permaculture, sustainable living on April 12, 2012 at 10:13 am
Having recently been given a bunch of rooted Willow we decided to use it to make a fedge to form the outline for a new permaculture bed. A fedge is a cross between a fence and a hedge, usually constructed from Willow. Spring is the best time to do this as the Willow will root easily at this time. If you have plants or rooted Willow it can be done anytime. We spaced the rods the length of Andy’s foot apart but they can be as little as 6 inches apart if you want a more solid barrier.
It was grey and showery when we did the fedge last Sunday but we persevered and got it done.
After inserted all the rods we just bent the tops over about a foot from the ground and wove them together. There are many designs you can make, arches, diamonds etc. As this was our first fedge we decided to keep it simple. The whole thing was a bit fragile at first but when all the weaving was done and a few strategically placed bits of string were used the whole thing stabilised. A website with lots of ideas and more comprehensive instructions is www.willowkits.co.uk .
Next step was to make the permaculture bed between the existing path and the edge of the fedge. The sod does’nt need to be turned… on top of the grass just lay down several layers of newspaper and cardboard. Make sure they are overlapped well so no grass or weeds come through. Remove any staples and plastic tape which may be holding the boxes together. On top of this layer we put a good thick mulch of rushes. Straw can also be used.
When the mulching is finished planting holes can be made in the cardboard/paper and plants planted straight in. In other beds we have made this way plants have been planted first, then the cardboard and mulch layers placed around the plants. On this occasion we will let the mulch settle a little before planting. There is already an established Damson here and a small Amelanchier has also been planted. In true permaculture style everything in this bed will be perennial food crops…herbs and fruits plus a few flowers for colour and for the insects. Willow itself is a great plant for biodiversity as it supports over 250 species. Over time this mulch will rot down and provide nutrition for the plants and improve the soil. It will need renewing each year.
In arigna on January 4, 2012 at 2:57 pm
The view out the window from our computer spot is pretty grey today. The mountains are shrouded in mist and the wind is gusting very strong. It’s not a day for venturing out unless one has too. My only outing today was to take the dogs for a short walk and venture into the polytunnel on the return to get some carrots for the evening meal. We will have the carrots with mashed potato and the remnants of a Hazelnut and Courgette Loaf I made yesterday. Today the loaf will be fried. Perhaps a soupcon of onion gravy too.
The land is saturated at the moment, there was a lot of rain in December and it’s now continuing into January. The lakes and rivers are full to capacity and every drain and ditch is busy with rushing water. Very strong winds over the last week. I find wind so tiring, it exhausts my energy.
In the house everything is warm and cosy. The stove is going from early morning to late at night. The Christmas tree still twinkles on the table, it is considered unlucky to take down the decorations before Twelfth Night, January 6th. We got a living tree this year. After the 6th we will repot it,leave it in the polytunnel, then move it outside when the weather improves.
In the garden there are some signs of Spring waiting in the wings. Willow is budding, it’s lovely catkins one of the symbols of Spring. Daffodils are up a few inches but I suppose the colder weather at the moment will have put a halt to their growth. When the ground dries out a bit there is lots of work to be done dividing perennials to create new plantings. But alas it’s far too wet right now. A little patience required!
In the polytunnel February Orchid (Orychophragmus violaceus) is flowering early. A little beacon of hope for an early Spring!! This little plant with a big name is not an Orchid at all but of the Brassica family.
Marigolds continue to flower in the polytunnel, a sure sign that despite the current wind and rain that it has so far (fingers crossed) been a mild Winter here in Ireland. I wonder if they are perennials in their native land? Anyone out there know? Their cheery flowers certainly help to brighten the dull days of January here in Arigna.
In Gardening, Off the beaten track., permaculture, sustainable living on September 11, 2011 at 1:04 pm
Our friends Elaine and LJ live on a 7 acre smallholding about 10 miles away from us. Living the good life for about 7 years now their wooden clad house is warm, cosy and welcoming despite having no mains electricity or water, things most people can’t imagine living without.
Electricity for the house comes from solar panels and a wind turbine atop this pole. Sorry, I cut off the wind turbine, crap pic, anyway you get the idea! Water is gravity fed from a well on their own land, some rainwater is also collected.
There are 2 polytunnels for vegetables and also an orchard. Slowly this land which was only ever used as grazing for cows is being converted to a haven for wildlife. No chemicals are used here, nature rules. Elaine and LJ call their philosophy “Permaganics, a combination of organic and permaculture techniques.”
Their 2 donkeys Floyd and Bowie have the run of the land that isn’t being cultivated, about 4 acres. I think the names reveal a little about their owners musical tastes too!
Willow cuttings planted last year have taken well, they help to divide the land into separate spaces and take up excess moisture from the ground. More will be planted over the coming Winter. Willow grows easily from cuttings planted in frost-free weather in Autumn or Winter. Here they have been formed into overlapping semi-circles to form a “fedge”.
This willow lined pathway leads to a magical woodland area. One can imagine Nymphs, Fairies and maybe even Leprachauns having their abode here. They will not be disturbed.
This pic was taken walking back to the house from the woodland.
In the orchard the Apples are ready for picking.
In Animals, arigna, Gardening, Off the beaten track. on August 28, 2011 at 12:09 pm
Two of the four wind harps by the waterfront in Carrick-on-Shannon. They make an eerie, haunting yet beautiful sound.
Craft stall at the Plant Fair in Farmleigh, Pheonix Park, Dublin on Sunday 21st August.
Stone fountain in the Famine Memorial Graveyard, Carrick-on-Shannon.
Daphne enjoying some Willow cuttings.
Red Banana leaf. A bit too tender for Arigna I fear!
Freddie watches and waits for a door to open.
Any more Willow branches?
I wonder how often we all think of the importance of Trees in our lives. It’s a fair bet that the table you eat your food from, the chairs you sit on, the coffins we bury our dead in, the heat from our stoves and a multitude of other things all come from trees. Of course they are also the lungs of the Planet. A mature leafy Tree produces as much oxygen as 10 people inhale in a year. A shelter belt of trees around your house can reduce heating costs by up to 30%. They provide shade in the Summer, on a hot day animal and human is drawn to the cooling shade of a nearby tree. Many medicines originally came from Trees, aspirin being one, it comes from the Willow. They stop soil erosion and help to absorb excess moisture from the land. They give nourishment to us in the form of fruit and nuts. They provide a valuable habitat for birds and insects. It is said that the native Wilow supports over 260 forms of life. The mighty Oak a similar amount. The Willow also gives us basket making material, a rooting hormone can by made be soaking Willow pieces in water for 24 hours, use the water to water your cuttings or leave them in it until roots appear.
2011 was declared the International Year of Forests by the UN. Looking through the schedule of events to mark this occasion I was amazed that Ireland has, yes, you’ve got it, big fat ZERO organised to celebrate our Trees. Then I suppose that would be a bit hypocritical of them when in this International Year of Forests they are planning to SELL OFF our State Forests. No, they are more than HYPOCRITES, they are TRAITORS!