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.
I was planting out wheat seedlings today, and looked over at two of the unplanted beds. A couple of days ago I had needed to empty a compost bay, so had tipped two wheelbarrow loads onto a series of unplanted beds. Having just written a post on Crop Rotations, Soil Fertility, and Digging, I realised that the two barrow loads of compost on the beds was three times the level needed to maintain soil fertility needed for the Grow Bio-intensive system of Jeavons. (As explained in the earlier pos)t. I started to think about the actual amount of compost that it takes to feed two people. What follows might make you think twice.
Alright, alright, it’s been a while since my last post, but it’s hectic. I thought that I would post a few pictures of my polyculture experiment, to show you how things are progressing, which on the whole, is well.
As you can see from the picture below, the Bonfils grain growing has been awesome.
As you look at the picture, the spelt is on your left, and the rye is on your right. The rye is already flowering, and continuing to grow. In this picture the rye is already above my head, and the spelt has put on another 6 inches of growth in the last week, since this picture was taken.
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.
Well the weather has put a stop to tree planting for now, so there is little new to write about. Like me, the chickens, dogs, and ducks are all getting stir crazy. Whilst the chickens and ducks are able to get out, the chickens are all staying under their hutches, to avoid wading through the snow. I made all of the hutches high enough for the birds to shelter under during bad weather. The only downside is that the birds are all concentrated in a small space, which isn’t ideal for their health. I keep clearing away small areas of snow, to give them access to some grass to eat, but as soon as it snows again, they go back under the hutches.
The ducks are happier waddling over the snow, but as they cannot find any food, they seem to be spending most of the day sat around, waiting for their afternoon meal.
The greyhounds are more of a problem. The snow gets between their toes, and rubs the skin away. The cold also cracks their pads, which allows grit to get caught in the cracks. So all of the dogs are getting hyperactive, if there’s such a thing as a hyperactive greyhound. I’m sat on the sofa right now, typing with my right elbow up in the air, to avoid disturbing a sleeping dog, who has her head in my lap.
The only other livestock that needs attention are the bees. I go up to the hives each morning and unblock the entrances, so that the hive can breathe. Last year when we had a long period of snow, my hive of Italian bees had remained active, fooled into rearing brood by mild weather . This led to lots of dead bees, trying to leave the hive to empty, and dying outside. So far this year, that hasn’t occurred.
I’ll post again when I get some more trees planted.