AUTUMN FEDGEROW SUMMER WATCH.

We are just taking another opportunity to bring subjects up to date and as you know last autumn we planted a willow hedgeway. This wasn’t just for the sake of it, but because all we really had was an empty field that I had strimmed and mowed. So, knowing how good and fast growing willow is, we thought that this was the best way to try and develop a garden structure, because like we said before, we bought 6 acres of empty grazing land and had to try to create an existance from this. We didn’t really have a lot of previous knowledge of alternative living, just snippets of information and glimpses of what could become possible from chance meetings of people from around the world, and then us trying to form an idea. Now, obviously the house had to be built first, we all need a roof over our heads, but trying to do everything all at the same time, build the house, sort out alternative energy, sort out a water supply, well, it all takes time.

Our land is also wet, not sodden but wet ( well this is Ireland!), so willow was an obvious choice as this plant helps to dry out the land and gives an instant structure.

Planted as bare rods in late October, these started producing catkins in late February, so after 8 months from planting  and 4 months from sprouting they laid root and have grown 2 feet.

This is the previous years growth which is 3.5 feet tall, which goes to show that once first planted it puts on a rapid spurt of growth, slows down for a year and then once again takes off at a massive rate.

This is 4 years growth and is at least 10 feet high and 6 feet thick. Because we coppiced this very heavily last autumn it has produced a very thick hedge. The cut rods were then used to create the fedgerows in the previous photos and any pieces that we didn’t think were long enough to cut were incorporated back into the hedge to carry on growing.

Once these have grown to a suitable height they will be joined at the top to form a willow archway tunnel.

Creating a garden creation through the simple medium of willow.

Even though I was bought up next door to a plant nursery that my stepdad owned, and I’ve always been around plants, this sort of technique isn’t  new to me but I didn’t actually have a name for it until a good friend if ours Bridget www.arignagardener.wordpress.com called round one day and took some photos and called it a fedge. It was then that we decided to set up this blog, thanks Bridget!

We have found it strange that once we started to write this blog it has put the whole project into perspective as we really spread ourselves thinly with what felt like a million projects all at once. It can make your head spin, but then all of a sudden all of those little bits start to come together and show themselves individually and also as a whole collection. It’s a strange thought that as you are trying to do all of these different projects all at the same time, even though you try to give 100% to each thing, you don’t always appreciate what has been achieved at the time. Well, I think that writing about it on this blog puts things into perspective and makes one look at what has been achieved.

We would both like to take this opportunity to say a big hello and welcome to all our new followers. It’s not always possible to reply to you all at the moment but we really do appreciate you all and will try through our next blog meetings to do so. We hope that our site can be helpful and informative for everyone. Also, to our older constant followers, thankyou for staying with us, we are so glad that you are part of this with us and can witness the changes of life at’ The Willows’.

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WHERE HAVE ALL THE FLOWERS GONE ?

With everything else that’s going on at the moment, certain things have been neglected. Unfortunately this time  it was our poor roses. Sorry roses!

So, I thought that this was a good opportunity to show the effectiveness and ease of permaculture. Yes, I know that there are loads of sites out there on this subject and certain ones might criticise mine, but so what ? I just thought that this could show you how to mend a ‘broken bed’.

Obviously this rose bed can’t be dug over so this is our alternative. First we clipped the long grass down, and hand pulled some weeds. A dock plant had to be dug out but this was right on the edge.

Cardboard was laid down and soaked thouroughly.

Well broken down grass clippings are then placed on top. This should be quite a thick mulch as this  also feeds  the plants.

We also use our donkey ‘Poo Brew’ on the plants to give them all a good feed. All we do to get ‘PooBrew’ is to collect up a couple of buckets of donkey dung, put it into a big blue barrel, fill this with water, cover and leave it to completely break down. This is then diluted down for veg or used neat on the garden and gives us all our organic fertilizer. We call this ‘Permaganics’

A nice thick donkey ‘Poo Brew’ that’s been breaking down for about 6 months.

                                                                              Bowie and Floyd.

We’ve often been questioned as to why we have donkeys. Well, we have the land that they graze which keeps it down for us, they provide our fertilizer for our veg and garden and they are just lovely, lovely animals. Thanks lads !

One of the strange things though, is that permaculture is nothing new, my Grandad was gardening this way 50 years ago and he called it mulching. He’s now 83 and still grows his tomatoes in his greenhouse and waters them every day. Come on GRANDAD !

He didn’t feel like he had to copy other people he just did things his way. When we go over to see him, I still carry the watering can up to his greenhouse for him and it really brings back memories I have of being a child.

He is the person who really got me started on this course of life. We used to go into his shed and make things out of wood, nails, screws, and glue. I have since built my house out of wood, nails, screws and glue ! The knowledge that he has given to me is invaluable. One of the first books he gave to us was ‘The Family Smallholding’ by Katie Thear and it still has that old book smell. This was back in 2001 when I had started to settle down a bit after travelling for 9 years round the world and inspired me that this was the way forward.

So, with this sort of information being passed down, you come to realise that we all stand on the shoulders of giants, but, it all depends on whether we look out and see what’s there at the time. I’ve always tried to acknowledge those people who have inspired me along the way, even if just in memory. It can’t always be done in person, sometimes distance and time make it impossible.

Certain people do, certain people don’t, we just try, and trying is the first step to success. Some people just copy others because they have no path of their own, and these are the ones that try to pull others down so that they can make  themselves feel more important than they really are but with no real substance and are just insecure.

So Happy Litha ! We are now just off to the tunnel to dig up a few new potatoes to have with our home made mint sauce .

Enjoy.

GUESS WHO’S BACK…… BACK AGAIN !

Yes, after a break we’re back !!!!

One of the reasons we were away was simply that we had caught up with real time. As we’ve said before, we started this project coming up to 6 years ago so what you were reading was an accumulation of the past 5 years to show you that it’s possible to build an eco friendly living environment and still live a relatively normal life. Once this information was out we couldn’t see the point of just talking for the sake of it. We like to be informative not boring.

Anyway,the time has come and we have some new projects on the go and on the way.

First things first, we had a disaster the other week with our wind power (all sorted out now though !). It started over Christmas when the winds were so high that it broke the wind turbine. Well, the turbine has a safety mechanism that locks the blades open so that the wind blows straight through  to stop the dynamo burning out. And like this it stayed until a few weeks ago because I was too scared to bring it down ( it’s a big bloody thing and very heavy). So, I plucked up the courage, got the solar panels out of the way, the jeep into position, bull wire between the guy wires and jeep and lowered it down, no problem.

I put the blades back into position, gave the turbine a service and started to pull it back up by reversing the jeep. Half way up and SNAP !!!

The bull wire snapped and down the turbine came smashing into the ground. One of the blades had broken onto 3 pieces. My heart sank and E said my face was the same as an upset Stewie Griffin from Family Guy. This then turned into a full blown toddler temper tantrum. I had some very heavy words to say to the blinking thing and they were more colourful than a Jackson Pollock painting and just as big !

Then the despair set in, that’s half of our power down. But, after sitting for a few minutes stroking our dogs, I thought ‘Well. it’s not worked since Christmas anyway and we always had enough power with just the solar panels’.

One of the strange things though is that I never really thought the turbine gave out enough power, so I thought ‘Well, let’s see what I can do?’ So, I set about looking in my new shed ( you’ll see this in another blog ) and found some bits. I put lots of super glue on all of the different broken parts and hoped for the best, what else could I do ? To my surprise the glue worked and just to make sure I screwed some small brackets between all of the broken parts to add strength whilst hoping it wasn’t going to throw the balance out. Only one way to find out !

I then decided that the jeep wasn’t big enough to pull the weight and length back up ( we used to have a Hi-Lux before), so I decided to reduce the length of the pole from 40 feet to 20 feet. I also thought that the electrical wiring I’d put in was too thick so I replaced this with thinner wire.

This time it pulled up easily and locked into position and it was back up !!!!

It immediately started spinning again and the power output is now alot better. We had high winds the other day and night and the repaired blade is working fine. I think that the thickness and the distance was creating too much resistance. DC power does not travel well which is why AC took over as it doesn’t lose power over a great distance.

Unfortunately there are no photos of the broken blade as I was too traumatised to contemplate that. I thought that I would probably break the camara as well ( through petulance!)

Even though this happened, it  just goes to show that some days things just break !!! It all depends on how you handle it because when you live like this you are, and have to be, the master of your own destiny.

When you have  sights and views like these on your own land, doesn’t it make it all worthwhile ?

Enjoy.