Thursday, 12 March 2009

the other Lewes pound

I spent Saturday on my friends Robin and Tuti’s new land near Cooksbridge broadcasting green manure over a 1 acre field that had been ploughed and tilled. The four of us walked up and down the field in a group, spread out 2 metres apart, broadcasting the seed in a horizontal figure of 8 pattern, adjusting it to the wind. After a picnic lunch, Robin and Edward pulled a hand made harrow (Robin is developing AppropriateTechnology) over the ground to cover the seed. The whole operation was efficient and hugely pleasurable. Probably not as fast as a machine could do it, but far more - appropriate.

On Sunday I planted a forest garden in the patch of land opposite St John’s Sub Castro. It used to be the town pound, where stray sheep were brought to be claimed. Last spring a few of us Transition Towners, with Ruth O’ Keeffe of Lewes Little Gardens, sheet mulched the weedy ground (cardboard then compost then straw, overplanting it with a prolific crop of marrows, courgettes and nasturtiums). When I dug into the soil it was writhing with worms and soft and crumbly, with an intact weed-free structure ready for planting in. In a couple of hours, I planted blackcurrants, raspberries, grape, tayberry, rhubarbs, alpine strawberries, Jerusalem artichokes, horseradish, and a range of herbs including chives, garlic chives, sorrel, sage, rosemary, salad burnett and lovage. Marrows for my neighbor and self-seeding herbs are to come. The permaculture concept of a forest garden is that it mimics nature, with plants taking up space in different levels and, by using perennials and self-seeders in a straw mulch, to minimize the amount of maintenance needed, including weeding and watering. Probably the most work I will do this year is to harvest the crops and share them with my neighbour, who owns this tiny garden.

Here is the inspiring 90 minute film Farm for the Future, that I mentioned last week, and here is a very funny 9 minute film about Transition Towns.

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