We’ve been spending a lot of time, effort and also money getting everything right for how we want to operate the ducks and chickens. In fact, apart from switching on (and checking) the irrigation and doing the odd planting and feeding, we’ve grossly neglected the rest of the operation. It is in line with our goal for the summer which was to “animalify” our operations. Although one day I did get some inspiration – I think I needed a bit of change – so I raided the greenhouse and climbed into one of those ”to do” areas at Dreamland.
When we initially planted Dreamland, more than a year ago, we invested a lot in the form of buying seedlings. It gave us a good head start, and I’m glad we did it at the time – those areas are now starting to look really nice, they need very little maintenance, we have an amazing collection of herbs to pick from and the bees are enjoying the various flowers. However, we didn’t have unlimited budget, so there were three large areas, let’s call them macro-guilds or more correctly patches (as per David Jacke and Eric Toensmeier’s Edible Forest Gardens Vol 1 and 2), where we only planted a collection of related fruit trees, but instead of planting the understory of the guilds, we just covered the soil with weed mat, with the intention of later making our own cuttings and seedlings to populate those areas.
So using the excuse that I needed the weed mat for another project, I recently climbed into one of those patches. This one contains one plum and two different apple trees, and it had some dwarf rosemary and some dill in there already. It wasn’t overly complex or big – actually a fun little project! I basically got everything done from sunrise to sunset on one uninterrupted day. Our neighbour, Graham, gave us some nice thick long straight-ish branches to do the edging. We still had some grass seed left for the path. Most of the underlying irrigation was laid, so I just had to do some fine-tuning and install a handful of micro-sprayers. We had some current, lavender, rosemary and sage cuttings in the greenhouse, so I raided all those. A handful of wheelbarrows of compost came from our own heaps. Oh, and of course mulch – we always have a big pile of “much more mulch” to load from.
We also ordered some Lavender Grosso tube stock (50 of them) way too early for a big Homeland project, so I “borrowed” 10 of them too. The intention at Dreamland, with its Savanah style forest garden design, is not to have much mono-cropping going on, except for the odd patch of corn or row of sunflowers because they thrive on growing together. However, at one place, there is going to be a little walkway along 10 identical French lavenders, which I think will look really pretty. (I’m holding back on this photo until they’re big!)
I’ve ordered the seeds to make the seedlings for the next patch – we’re trying to get that one done in the early autumn. This next one is all about bee-friendly perennials in an apricot and native plum macro-guild. I’m quite looking forward to opening that one up too, but in the meantime, it’s all about nursing this one through the hot summer (luckily we had 6mm of very welcome rain last night!) and completing the chicken “infrastructure” (but more about that in future posts).