Two years ago I was sent some willow cuttings from the research centre at Rothampstead, who keep the National willow collection. The cuttings were for me to use to see which were the earliest flowering willows. My interest is early bee forage. I have a lot of violet willow (Salix daphnoides), which is my earliest flowering willow and every year I’m relieved when I see my bees foraging on it, as I know that their lean period is over. From then on, there is a steady flow of nectar until early Summer, and only the weather.
Earlier this week I spent a few hours processing firewood with hand tools. Unlike when using a chainsaw, the hand tools allow time for thinking, and this post is partly about the firewood, and partly about the thoughts that went with the activity.
A short while ago, I posted about the books that I’ve read this year, Reading List, and I’ve written two posts about the direction that I’m taking to become more self reliant, here at the Sustainable Smallholding. Creating a Permanent Agriculture, and 2012 Plans, Experiments, and Direction, both look at where I’m heading.What I wanted to do was expand on the same theme, and add a bit more detail.
The catalyst for this post was the understanding of how much has changed this year. I’m moving away from no dig gardening, to digging, and double digging, once in a complete rotation. I am concentrating much more on ‘staple’ foods, and less on interesting, or unusual vegetables, and despite being passionate about trees, and Forest Gardening, I recently found myself wondering if perhaps I should have left a bit more room for growing grains.
I started planted a few of the potted trees back in September. These were mainly False Acacia, and Box Elder, grown from seed for the Coppice and Orchard. There are still a few of these to do, as I’ve been concentrating on the vegetable growing areas recently. That changed today, as I was told that the first batch of my fruit trees were due to arrive. These trees are cider apple trees, on M25 rootstocks. Sometimes the blog might make it seem that everything is always well planned, but these were an impulse purchase, sparked by my first proper attempt at cider making.
My interest in growing grains has just increased, with the arrival of more seeds, this time from America. The packet contained a corn variety, a variety of millet, and most exciting of all, a perennial rye. Luckily I have all winter to consider how to link this in to my Polyculture Experiment, and where.