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.