‘Margaret’s Plot’ is in the village of Carlton in North Bedfordshire. It actually consists of four separate plots based on four different Permaculture Designs. The four plots (the front and back gardens of a bungalow plus an allotment and forest garden) need to complement each other and form an overall Grand Design intended to give me as sustainable a lifestyle as possible and to provide fruit and vegetables for myself ( and some customers) all year round. I also like to experiment with different and unusual types of fruits and vegetables and try new techniques!
I will be very happy to swap ideas about permaculture and sustainable living with any visitors!
The small back garden of the bungalow contains a wallhouse (a small lean-to greenhouse) and a bed where herbs and salads are grown. It also includes minarette and wall trained fruit trees and constitutes zone 1. The front garden shelters the house from the road and is intended to be wildlife friendly - most of it can be described as ‘zone 5’. However some parts of the front garden area (including the south facing wall of the house) are specifically used for tender fruit production and so can be viewed as part of zone1.
The allotment and forest garden (combined area 16 poles) are a five minute walk away from the house and count as zone 2. Most of my vegetables and fruit are grown there. However the home garden ‘feeds’ the allotment and forest garden in terms of young plants raised in the wallhouse and grass cuttings and other green waste to use as mulch or to add to the compost heap. Similarly the zone 2 area of the allotment and forest garden feed the home garden (as well as the kitchen!) in terms of plants (like lavender) raised on a nursery bed on the allotment and also, of course, ready to use garden compost. The short walk between the bungalow and allotment field is useful for foraging fertility - grass cuttings from my neighbours and also leaves collected from under the trees lining the road in the autumn.
Carlton is close to the river Ouse and the soil here is alluvial, light and free draining - easy to work with but hungry so protecting the soil and boosting its fertility is crucial for effective food production. So as well as producing fruit and vegetables the zone 2 area acts as a ‘fertility production factory’ and a lot of compost is produced in three large compost bins. Sheet mulching with grass and cardboard is used extensively to suppress weeds and conserve moisture and this mulch rots down to give more compost and feed the soil. I have found sheet mulching to be particularly useful (it’s my permaculture passion) and it is now central to my gardening technique.