In 2014 I’m goint to try growing rice in the UK, and the following post describes why, and how I’m going to do it. I’m sure that it has been tried by somebody, somewhere, but I have no idea if anybody has made it work yet. It’s not something that I’ve ever come across before, and my only thoughts up until recently has been the possibility of growing wild rice. That changed when I read The Resilient Farm and Homestead, by Ben Falk, who is one of a number of people growing rice in Vermont, USA. Using rice from Hokkaido, the northernmost Island in Japan, growers in vermont are harvesting marketable quantities of rice. I immediately decided that I wanted to give I a try. So another project has been germinated, or hatched.
It’s funny how ideas, or inspiration, comes into us. This one relates to my Chicken Scavenging System. I have been using a shredded Miscanthus product for chicken bedding. It is about the same price as a bale of chopped straw, but is grown without chemicals, is a perennial, and most importantly works well. My long term aim is to house a single flock of chickens, and possibly another of ducks, on a deep litter system, with the raw materials coming from on site. Probably a combination of Common Reed harvested from gray/brown water systems and Swale, along with tree and shrub prunings, straw from my grain growing, and bamboo. In the medium term, I have two deep litter systems, along with two conventional poultry houses, and another house due to be used soon.
Today I spent about eight hours building a compost heap. That seems like a long time, but, in true permaculture fashion, we never only do one thing, and every element should perform more than one function. So what was the big deal? Well the start point was this.
This picture was taken yesterday. The right bay was finished compost, the center fairly fresh, and the left is still a bit rough, but will be OK for potatoes, squash, and other summer staples.
This is the last of the finished compost. I could have left it in place, and put the new heap in the middle bay, but the lack of rain has left the top of some of the raised beds dry, and adding the compost will help to stop any topsoil from blowing away.
The plants in the Polyculture experiment are starting to grow, with the clover beginning to cover the bed. I wanted to post some pictures, mainly to record the progress of the experiment. These pictures were taken two days ago.
Bon Fils/Three Sisters Hybrid
The first picture is of one of the test beds.
You can see that much of the ground has been covered by the clover, but there is some space at the front of this picture. I may need to sow some more. The next picture is of the second test bed.
My Blog title, The Sustainable Smallholding, is an aspiration, as opposed to a description of where we are at the moment. The reasons for that are many, and complex, but one of the key ones is the sheer amount of knowledge that you need to acquire, and solutions that you have to find, to achieve sustainability, self reliance, or self sufficiency. It seems that each time that you peel back a layer of a problem, another sits nestled within. In this post I will explore some of the areas that I have identified as important in my search for sustainability.