fruit and veg gardening grow your own permaculture

Permaculture Garden

We recently visited the permaculture garden of Wade Muggleton and his family in South Shropshire and what a wonderful garden it is, full of interest, attractive and so productive. Every inch of space is used and productive on several layers – tree, shrub and ground. The front garden is home to fruit from strawberries at ground level, through gooseberries, including a deep red fruited bush with intense sweet taste, and on up through cordon apples and finally up to apples grown on trees. The star of the front garden though was the Japanese Wineberry with its bright orange and red colouring and textured stems – and they had a sweet, rich taste.

The back garden of this ex-council house overlooks beautiful rambling Shropshire countryside, which can be appreciated from a well-placed bench. Chickens roam freely and contentedly under fruit trees amongst a wildflower meadow. The most striking tree was a pear which bore deep red fruit which Wade was unable to name as it was bought cheaply without a label, but he could tell us that it tasted as good as it looked.

The back garden contained everything a good organic garden should – water butts, comfrey plants, small wildlife pool, compost systems, and a small greenhouse. Examples of original ideas in recycling could be found everywhere, such as a shower cubicle as a coldframe and a plastic container that housed a mini-square foot garden.

Wade talked to us about permaculture, about optimising your productive space by prioritising which crops you grow, choosing crops for richness of flavour and encouraged us to play the percentage game by realising that we could not be totally self-sufficient but every bit we do builds up to reduce pressure on the wider environment.

allotments fruit and veg gardening grow your own

Busy Day on the Lottie

We spent a busy day up on the lottie yesterday, expecting the plot to be wet after 36 hours of steady rain at home. But even though the lottie is only 10 minutes away the plot was dry all but a dampness on the surface. The plot is divided into quarters by grass paths and we thought these may need mowing but the weather has been so dry that there was no grass growth at all.

The main task was to improve the soil in the one quarter – dig out a trench, rotovate over the bottom to break up the boulder clay, spread a layer of half-rotted straw in the bottom, fill the trench back in and finally top it off with a thick mulch of compost. We planted out more leek plants, about 80, into this, half Musselburgh and half Swiss Giant. We had already planted out some Swiss Giant weeks ago and they have made good growth. Our aim is to keep harvesting leeks throughout winter and spring – we eat so many of them!

In between the rows of leek plantlets we sowed Mooli, two types of chickory one for leaves and one hearts, turnip for autumn salads and some winter spring onions, both red bulbed and white. We also took the risk of sowing some carrots chancing the weather in the hope of some very late baby roots and some dwarf french beans for late autumn cropping.

So it’s fingers crossed now in the hope that the late summer and early autumn weather is benevolent!

fruit and veg gardening grow your own

Apple Arch

We have trained a Scrumptious apple tree over an archway over the path to the greenhouse. Starting with a one year maiden whip we trained it over the arch pruning it as a cordon and within three years we were harvesting heavy crops. The only problem we encountered was when the main trunk was snapped off in heavy winds when it was heavily laden with fruit. But we learnt our lesson and from then on always tie it in as it grows with much stronger fixings.

In the photo the redness of these delicious and attractive apples looks great behind the yellow saucer shaped flowerheads of the fennel and the metallic blue globes of the echinops.

The Scrumptious Archway
allotments fruit and veg grow your own

A basket of fruit

All in a day’s picking.

Is fruit picking the most enjoyable part of gardening? It is so satisfying getting sticky and sweet-smelling hands and defying the wasps who are after you. Just look at today’s produce – golden plums with red and green gooseberries. The huge green goosegogs are from a self-seeded bush in a shrub border at home, the tiny red ones from the allotment. How is it that the pampered bush produces berries half the size of the neglected bush? Simply another case of mother Nature knowing best I guess!

The chucks get any bruised or over-ripe fruit. They watch intently as we harvest and get wildly excited if we approach their run,  ready for the race to the plum. The Sussex hen usually quiet and reserved becomes a thing possessed, a hen on steroids, the olympic 100m champion of hens. she gets to the plum as it lands and disappears deep into the Buddleia bush growing in the pen. The others see but a streak of white and black plumage and miss out yet again.
Meanwhile, we return to the kitchen for a bowl of ultra-fresh rose-tinted yellow plums topped off with ice-cream and fromage frais. We allow the freezer to look after some for the winter and for jam and chutney brewing.
allotments garden photography garden wildlife gardening grow your own

The Green Bench

The green bench on the lottie.

So what will the greenbenchramblings be? The green bench is a rather old faded green plastic garden bench. It is a little brittle now and suffering from age. Its feet are chipped and cracked but it is where I sit to write in my special notebook. This notebook is a “Moleskine” with inviting cream pages inside its soft black cover, and in here I write my thoughts on “green things” – my lottie, my garden, wildlife and conservation.

The green bench currently lives on our allotment at Bowbrook Allotment Community on the outskirts of Shrewsbury, and it moved with us when we gave up our lottie on the far side of town.

It is where I take my rests, drink my tea and coffee during my very frequent breaks and where I nibble my fruit at lunchtime. When I sit I look and think and when thoughts come to me I pencil them into my “Moleskine”.

I have been making greenbenchramblings for a few years now so sometimes my ramblings will be retrospective. So welcome to my ramblings – enjoy them.