Will 2011 be the busiest year ever at The Sustainable Smallholding?

If you have read my recent posts, you could be forgiven for thinking that all I’m doing at the moment is catching swarms. I did think that if ever I wrote an autobiography, this chapter would be entitled ‘Summers in a bee suit’, but I’m trying hard to keep up with all of the other chores that need doing. With no swarms for two days, and after a concerted effort to get ahead of the bees in terms of hive and frame assembly, I have actually managed to spend some time repotting, potting on, planting out, and thinking about the future.

The title of the post reflects my hopes. My current level of work can only be maintained for a limited time, helped by the fact that I am too stubborn to quit. At present, a whole series of tasks are overlapping. I still have trees in pots scheduled for planting out in bothe the coppice, and the Forest Garden. I did get some of them planted with the bare root stuff, but some of them were not quite big enough.Iprefer my trees to stick out of the spiral guards, and these were not quite tall enough. That’s giving me a watering and feeding job, that I will not have to do after this Autumn, unless we have yet another dry Spring. I also have Nectar rich trees and shrubs growing, to be planted out in the Nectary, close to the house. Again, once these get planted, there will be a reduction in work.

I have made a start on propagating some of the ground cover plants for the Forest Garden, but I am being hampered by a lack of protected space. As the stuff mentioned above gets planted out, more space should become available.

One of my aims this year has been to grow flowering plants, mainly herbaceous perennials for the nectary. Most of these have been grown from seed, and are coming along nicely. Once planted out, many of them will be propagated by division, which again will be less work.

The hardy bamboo is the same. Much of it is currently in pots, to make division easier, but once it’s established, it will look after itself.

Each of these ‘lumps’of time saved, should help increase the time available to give to the time consuming chores, such as weeding, and scything. Which, along with watering, and bees, take up most of my available time. The more time spent on those two jobs, the easier each task becomes. I have decided to rotavate the grassed areas of the Forest garden, and after green manuring it, sowing seed of nectar rich plants as ground cover until I have grown enough plants to take their place. These will also be nectar rich, but more shade tolerant. This is a change to my management strategy for the Forest garden.I had initially intended to avoid using machinery, but the time that it will save scything, and the yield it will provide in terms of nectar, make it a sensible option. Having changed my mind, I now wish that i had done it prior to tree planting, as I will still have to deal with the grass between the trees.

I also have to be realistic, and I know that I’m easily drawn into new ventures. I’m doing a skep making course next month with a mate (Hi Alex). I have another friend who grows long straw wheat for thatching, and I’m already weighing up the pros and cons of growing some long straw wheat, or rye, so that I can use the straw to make skeps. It’s pretty easy to convince myself that it won’t be much extra work, and that it will be a good way of earning some extra cash in the Autumn/Winter. The reality is that it will probably just be another drain on my time.

If I look back to when we first moved here, I used to think that I was busy. I’m doing much more now, and doing it in the same time time as I used to do much less. I guess I must have become more efficient.

Wishing you all well


5 thoughts on “Will 2011 be the busiest year ever at The Sustainable Smallholding?

  1. Jo

    Mmmm. New ventures can always be tricky – and are they really new ventures or are they a distraction???
    I keep thinking about the books we discussed when i last saw you – burying wood, building “raised” raised beds, double digging etc – and like everything it comes back to energy in vs. energy out. The reality is I still don’t have time at the moment to do these things therefore I expect my yield to be less – but if and when needs must I can experiment.
    Hope all well and that you’re not buzzing about too much. I really can’t imagine you “taking it easy”. Jo

    1. Deano Post author

      Hi Jo
      Hope that all is well with you and yours. Yes. Distractions. I have no idea why I used to think I was busy before. Now I’m really busy.
      You never toldme if you watched the DVD’s……..?

  2. Jo

    Hi – haven’t watched the DVDs yet as they are still in Mr Hendrey’s possession – but not for much longer as he is coming for tea tonight!!!
    Take care

  3. Stephen Hendry

    Hi each, dvd’s posted tomorrow to Corner Cottage. I don’t know how you find to watch them Deano! ciao, steve


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