The view of my edible garden (from my bedroom window), on the last day of October
The last of my bean and courgette/squash harvest (supervised by Floss)
I mulched the raised bed left empty after the last of the squash and courgette harvest with the contents of one of my compost bins.
….and then sowed phacelia as a green manure cover crop/mulch to remain in place until next spring. (The glass jar of marbles and water is an insect water station. I have several of these throughout my garden, as well as being good for insects and birds, they also look pretty. Aesthetics is a big function in my garden design, I love to create beautiful spaces).
A week or so later, phacelia pushing its first leaves through the newly applied compost. (The orange peel is part of my cat deterrent strategy!)
This winter I’m trialing growing leafy plants (kale, chard, oriental greens) and fennel seedlings under bubble wrap. The adjacent south facing stone wall is an additional heat sink to the recycled farm plastic waste raised beds. (My raised beds are from the brilliant British Recycled Plastic in Hebden Bridge)
The baby trees and hardy perennial herbage ground cover plants on the North facing small slope ‘edge’ between the urban meadow and busy main road, are thriving after some autumn rain. This strip has been well mulched with wood chip and leaves for the past two winters and the soil fertility, water storage ability and depth has really improved. I gave several young trees struggling with the drought conditions of the summer a big water in August, but about 90% of the trees have managed without supplementary watering. I intend to add another layer of locally obtained wood chip mulch on top of this autumn’s leaves over the winter.
I’ve been improving and expanding the diverse areas of wildlife (mainly insect) habitat, including leaving about 10% of my urban meadow uncut. Last winter the uncut cow parsley flowers became the home of many ladybirds over the cold months.
Its been great to see how many of the perennial wild flower and grasses seedling plugs I planted directly into the urban meadow in the early spring have established themselves, despite the very dry conditions over the summer. I planted the plugs into small areas of bare earth I had created by killing areas of regular lawn grass with wood chip mulch.
‘My Garden’ zine
I’ve created a zine about my garden, you can buy it from my shop right here
Just added to my online shop - cards and A4 prints of some of my recent illustrations.
Plus my very first publicly available zine!
As I continue to slowly recover from the long term impact that Lyme disease has had on my body, so the number of permaculture educator events I am able to be involved with are increasing.
This makes me very happy!
Here is a little round up of past, present and future happenings in my little corner of Earth.
Last month I took part in the Saltaire Festival Open Gardens & Pop-Ups event for the first time. I loved the preparation for it and the weekend itself. It pushed me into trying out some new creative ideas in my garden which have worked out really well. I also won the ‘highly commended’ (runner up) prize, which I was SO pleased, (and surprised!), about.
My open garden was also part of the Permaculture Association’s My Green Community event which saw permaculture projects opening their doors/gates to visitors throughout the UK
A new project, ‘Thriving With Principles’, I am working on with one of my Diploma apprentices, Kate Dickinson also started last month. Thriving With Principles (TWP), is a permaculture project documenting and sharing about how permaculture principles can enable people affected by disability and/or chronic illness/long term health issues (CI/LTHI), to thrive. Its a series of online discussions through Zoom, then the creation of a zine.
The first two Zoom sessions far exceeded our expectations of how much discussion would emerge from all of the wonderful people attending, so we have organised a further three Zoom sessions to take place this month, before Kate starts on their zine design.
Click here for further information about TWP - you are very welcome to join in with the October Zoom sessions
Earlier this month I facilitated my first ‘in person’ permaculture workshop since I became poorly six years ago. The hour long ‘brief introduction to permaculture’ was part of the bigger Sustainable Saturday event hosted by my local community centre, the Kirkgate Centre. I really enjoyed being back chatting about how permaculture can be applied to so many of our everyday life and work experiences. There was a lot of enthusiasm from the people attending for further workshops, and this is something I am going to be exploring for next year.
Next month I’m very much looking forward to two creative events less than five minutes shuffle from my home!
I’m going to be selling my prints, cards and zines and hosting a permaculture resource space at ‘Prints & Plants’, at the amazing Salts Works & People Powered Press on Sunday 13th November.
I will also be having a stall at the Peace & Craft Fair hosted by the Yorkshire Campaign For Nuclear Disarmament at the Victoria Hall here in Saltaire on Saturday November 26th.
Saltaire Festival has been postponed for two weeks and this means that my ‘Open Garden’ as part of the festival and the My Green Community event by the Permaculture Association has also been postponed. I’ll be posting details of the changed dates here in and on my social media when they are confirmed.
I’m taking part in the ‘Open Gardens & Pop-ups Trail’ event happening over the first weekend of Saltaire Festival in September 2022.
Come and visit my garden in central Saltaire, where I am using permaculture design to create a space where both people and the wildlife we are connected to, can thrive. I’m having a pop-up shop selling cards, prints and zines of some of my permaculture themed illustrations from my kitchen, (accessed through my garden), too.
I will also be doing short online tours of my garden through Instagram live over the weekend - more details about times will be shared closer to the event. You can connect with me on Instagram at @KtShepherdPermaculture
My garden and kitchen are accessible for people using wheelchairs and there are garden benches available to sit on in the garden. Children are very welcome and will need supervising by an adult visiting with them. Dogs on leads are also very welcome and there will be water, (and possible some Scooby snacks!), available for them.
More information about the ‘Open Gardens and Pop-Ups Trail’ can be found in this link. Including the map of the trail
Saturday 10th September 12-4.30pm
Sunday 11th September 12-4.30pm
My open garden and shop event is also part of the ‘My Green Community - a celebration of practical permaculture’ event being organised by Kathryn Baker at the Permaculture Association.
Summer loveliness in my edible garden, (plus sweet peas, beautiful, smell amazing, but not edible), everything seems to have survived the really hot weather last week and without much extra watering thanks to the awesomeness of mulch!
The view of my edible garden from my bedroom window. I’ve been taking a photo of this view at the same time each month for the last three months, in order to observe the changes in a semi- structured way. (See June’s garden blog post)
One of my favourite #fromthegarden dishes - Stuffed courgette flowers, filled with cooked potatoes, broad beans, shredded chard & kale, garlic chives - drizzled with olive oil (not grown by me!) - baked in the oven for about 30 minutes and then garnished with calendula, rocket, borage, nasturtium and coriander flowers.
I have several insect water stations placed at various heights in my garden, marbles, stones and shells provide perches for insects to rest on while they drink, they also look really pretty.
I cut my urban meadow over the space of two weeks, strimming small sections each day so that insects could move into adjacent areas. I left about 20% of the meadow, again in small sections, uncut, so there continues to be food and habitat while the rest of the vegetation grows again. The cuttings were all gathered and removed so that the meadow area soil doesn’t become too fertile which would result in many perennial meadow plants not thriving in future years. I used the cuttings to mulch an area of the meadow border where I have planted willow as a hedge. The willow will out grow any meadow seeds that germinate from the mulch.
I left this area of my urban meadow near to my door, standing as it looks beautiful and hopefully inspirational, for anyone visiting my home.
As I’m typing this The Guardian app on my iPad has informed me that the UK has just recorded its first ever 40 degrees outdoors temperature. Amidst this horrific news and the fact that here in the Aire valley in Yorkshire my garden currently feels like midday in August in Andalusia, my system of mulching the raised beds and pots in my edible garden, gives me hope. Not a lot, but enough.
My infographic above includes some of the main functions of mulching soil. It’s so beneficial and over the last few days it’s capacity to keep water in the soil has been amazing to witness. I’ve been watering gardens belonging to two different friends over the last couple of weeks and the difference in watering needs between their mostly unmulched growing spaces and my own, have been huge.
I’ve been assessing the watering needs of my growing spaces at 5am and 9pm for the last week. Some of the smaller pots have needed watering each day, especially those naturally water vulnerable plants, for example courgettes and young lettuce with their shallow roots. The larger pots have been watered alternate days and the raised beds just once in the last week. In all of these containers the soil just a couple of centimetres below the mulched surface was at least damp at each check. I’ve been especially impressed with the conditions in the raised beds as these are made from the increased heat storage capacity of recycled black plastic.
I’ve used 3 different types of mulch - wood chip, partially composted homemade compost (carbon dense with pine shavings from guinea pig bedding) and plant living mulches. I haven’t been organised enough to do any controlled comparisons about the performance of each one, but in general they all seem to be fairly equally effective.
For information about much larger scale solutions focused work about the water on our planet, I can very much recommend investigative journalist, Judith D Schwartz book, ‘Water in Plain Sight’ - I wrote a review about it here
I’ve been looking forward to the next couple of weeks all year!
As from the June new moon, (two days ago), I have been undertaking a survey of the diversity of plants and insects in my urban meadow. I’m planning on doing this each day for the next one to two weeks, at different times each day, with the aim of taking the effects of weather and light on different species and varieties into account.
There are some amazing digital identification tools available but I’m really enjoying using these books for the survey so far. One of the additional functions of me undertaking the survey is to improve my knowledge of plants and insects in general and for me and my learning style, comprehensive, accessible books win over screens every time.
Once the survey is complete I will of course be writing a blog post about the process and results. If you haven’t done already, sign up to my newsletter where I share my most recent posts.
June 2022 in my wildlife garden has brought some beautiful areas of gradually establishing perennial meadow flowers and grasses in the “lawn”. This project is in its second summer now and the difference between the diversity of plants in this year and last year is huge. (Check out previous blog posts for more planting history). The photo above is of the sunrise last week. I so love sitting in this part of my garden drinking my first cuppa of the day before the rest of the world wakes up.
Ox eye daisies making their first appearance this year.
I plan to do a survey of the plants, (and hopefully insects), in my meadow-lawn just prior to its big summer cut in a few weeks time. Things are just looking so beautiful out there though that I carried out a little practice version a few days ago.
In other news, these walking boots finally wore out to the point of wet feet and no tread left. They’ve been my main outdoor footwear for the last decade or so and have shared some life changing journeys, so its been lovely to find a good use for them as pretty planters next to my front door.
General edible garden magic in June! Things seem to grow rapidly each day and I’m eating lots of different salad, kale and chard leaves, herbs and edible flowers on a daily basis now. One of the raised beds started being planted as a mini forest garden early in spring so I’m looking forward to seeing how that develops. I’m planning on writing a more detailed blog about the various aspects of my edible garden next month.
I harvested my first potatoes of the year a few days ago when I pulled up a rebel potato plant from one of last years potatoes to make room for other growing plants to thrive. They were SO delicious! Potatoes are definitely up there in my top five edible foods to grow!
Early in spring I planted a green manure cover crop, beautiful phacelia, in one of the raised beds that I knew I wouldn’t be planting out in until mid May. I left a few plants around the edges of the bed to flower as pollinators love them.
Last year I planted several comfrey plants (as pollinator attractors, use as a fertiliser in a liquid feed and by mulching other plants with the leaves and as a nutritious biomass addition to my compost system), both in my wild and edible gardens. Its such a great sight to see the numbers of bees feeding on each plant.
At the end of May I started a new project to take a photo of this view of my edible garden, (from my bedroom window), on the same day each month, in order to see its journey through the year.
I’m really looking forward to being participating in my local arts trail this year, happening over the May Day bank holiday weekend, in Saltaire, near Bradford.
“Saltaire Arts Trail prides itself in reaching out to new audiences and making art accessible to all by using imaginative venues - the internationally recognised Salts Mill, public buildings, the homes of Saltaire residents and outdoor spaces around Saltaire, to display visual art outside of traditional settings, as well as delivering new exhibitions and commissions”
I’m a resident artist in the Open Village Trail and will be displaying some of my permaculture themed illustrations in my windows via a walk through my garden. I’m excited to have two other artists - Grace Denton and Cameron Lings showing work in my garden and kitchen. I’ll be selling prints and cards of my work from my kitchen too.
I’ve been creating some new illustrations for this event. Cards and A4 prints of this design and five others will be for sale at the Open Village trail and available to buy on my online shop just before the event.
My edible garden. This is the second growing season using my raised beds system from British Recycled Plastic. One of their many great functions is the solar heat storage of the material making them perfect for seed germination and seedling growing at this time of year when the weather can be so variable.
Not very glamorous at all, but these plastic sacks which I buy pine cat litter in, are the growing space for 2 varieties of potatoes this year. They have been planted in partly composted contents from my home compost system. The sacks will be rolled down and more compost will be added as the potato plants mature.
Overwintered kale and chard. I’ve left the kale to seed because pollinators love the beautiful little yellow flowers. They also look really gorgeous too. The other plants in this bed are broad beans which were started off in small pots and then planted out a couple of weeks ago. Baby pea plants and sweet peas (also started in pots) will be planted out in this bed too over the next week.
This bed is going to be a mini “food forest” (or “forest garden”) - Ive planted a gooseberry bush and raspberry canes (bought online from RV Roger plant centre in Pickering) and just beyond the raised bed is an apple tree on dwarf root stock planted into the ground last year. Spare broad bean plants are in there too as are some perennial onions. I’ll be adding some more low growing (ground cover), plants to this bed over the weeks ahead.
This raised bed along the brilliant south facing stone wall is perfect as a plant nursery! Eventually tomatoes, cucumbers and sunflowers will be planted out here to make to most of the stored heat and shelter of the wall.
Through the gate in my edible garden is my wildlife garden. Ive been gradually adding a diverse range of perennial meadow/woodland plants into the “lawn” over the last two years and its so good to see more flowers, grasses and herbage get established
Some of the perennials planted as ground cover last winter, underneath baby trees forming a hedge along the main road boundary, are also getting established now too.
I love this time of year in garden design, sowing annual seeds and watching perennials emerge from their winter sleep. Over the May Day bank holiday this year, I’m excited to be welcoming people to walk through my garden as part of my participation in the Saltaire Arts Trail. I’m looking forward to some interesting conversations, (hopefully!), about all things permaculture throughout the event.
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