An online discussion through Zoom, then the creation of a zine. A project by Kt Shepherd & Kate Dickinson. This is timed to connect with the Edges of both the Festival Of Permaculture and My Green Community events from the Permaculture Association in September 2022
Take part in 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.
This project is aimed at both people living with disabilities and/or CI/LTHI and/or people supporting others living with disabilities and/or CI/LTHI
We will be hosting 2 x 1 hour Zoom sessions over the weekend of 17/18th September.
The Saturday 17th September session is at 10-11am
The Sunday 18th September session is at 3-4pm
Both sessions are at BST (British Summer Time) timings
You are welcome to attend either or both sessions
We are inviting participants to share experiences they have had or ideas about, using the Holmgren Permaculture Principles in managing their disabilities and/or CI/LTHI and/or supporting someone else with disabilities and/or CI/LTHI
This link features more information about each of the 12 principles
Ways of sharing these experiences and ideas with others in the session might include -
Sharing an image (photo, doodle, illustration, mind map)
Written/typed so that Kate or Kt can share on your behalf
Participants will also be encouraged to discuss these experiences and ideas in the sessions. There is no pressure to either share or discuss in the sessions. People who want to attend the sessions and just listen in are very welcomed
The Zoom sessions will be recorded and then the content shared about experiences and ideas will be collated and used to create a zine which will be available to others as a resource. The zine will be available in both electronic and paper versions.
The zine content can be anonymous or participants can be named and attributed to their experiences and ideas - either preference is great.
In the week after the Zoom sessions you will be asked to complete a short evaluation tool so that we can learn from the experiences of participants and plan future events accordingly.
We will be sharing information about this project on social media, on Kt’s blog and via the Permaculture Association’s website events notice board
Please email Kt if you would like to take part in this project - remember it’s totally fine and very welcomed to just listen in to the ideas sharing and discussion. Also, feel free to email me with any questions you may have.
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.
I’ve been spending the last few days doing a bit of a review about how my garden designs are going.
I left kale and some chard sown last spring in place over the winter and they are thriving pretty well. I am harvesting some to eat at least once a week. Unfortunately my health wasnt great at the key time for sowing winter crops last year and so seeds never made it into the soil, but alongside these brassicas I have some baby leeks looking small but healthy in a different raised bed.
I’ve also loved sorting out my crazily big seed collection, (alphabetical order for the first time ever, rather than plant type!) - I’m experimenting with some green manure crops in a couple of the raised beds this year which I’m excited about. The seeds in the plastic bags in this photo are perennial and annual meadow herbs, grasses and flowers. I’m going to be growing some of this seed as plug plants to place directly into the lawn in places presently covered with wood chip. This mulch will have killed the grass, to give the baby plants less competition when they are planted.
Also over in the “wild” part of my garden, are some seed heads left on grasses and flowers seeds sown directly into the lawn last year. In this seed head pictured I found sleeping ladybirds. I plan to leave more areas of the “lawn” with seed heads in place to overwinter for insect habitat this year.
Yesterday I sowed the first seeds of the year! Chillis in Northern England need to be started off super early in the year for them to ripen in the summer sun. I’ve sown 4 different varieties this year, 3 are new to me, plus my favourite “Nigel’s Outdoor” chillis from Realseeds, bred to thrive outside in the UK
Through the winter I’ve grown a constant supply of sprouted seeds and pulses on my kitchen window sill. In the long dark winter days it seems like such a privilege to be able to easily grow (and then eat!) delicious fresh sprouts.
Some of my favourite resources connected with this post
I buy most of my seeds from two seeds specialists in England. Tamar Organics & Real Seeds - I love both their products and their ethics.
I buy my meadow plants seeds from Emorsgate Seeds - who also have loads of really useful info about everything you need to know relating to sowing grasses, flowers and herbs to create “meadows” on their website.
The fantastic No-Dig gardener Steph Hafferty published a brilliant blog post on Valentine’s Day about her seed sowing plans for February. You can read her post here
My friend and permaculture teacher & practitioner, Graham Burnett has produced a fabulous little guide, “A Garden In Your Kitchen” which includes a great section on sprouting.
Checkout my online shop for cards and prints of some of my most popular illustrations.
Recently I created a new goal setting tool for a current project design I’m working on.
S.H.M.A.R.T.E.R has influences from both Heather Jo Flores and Leonie Dawson goal setting work and is aimed at being used in people focused projects. It’s already proving to be a super useful core tool in my 2022 Permaculture Educator design and I will share more about this here as the design progresses.
Please feel free to use it in your own life/work designs - I have created a PDF for the S.H.M.A.R.T.E.R tool for you to download here
Also, check out my shop where I sell prints and cards of some of my favourite illustrations. You can also access free (or pay as you feel) digital versions of my illustrations here
I’m here, back to all things digital, after a month long break somehow turned into a whole six months. My garden also was mainly left to its own devices for the second half of the growing season too, but here are a few photos I did take over that time.
This raised bed contained a wonderful polyculture of runner beans, French beans, field beans, 2 varieties of kale, rainbow chard, mixed radish, rocket, nasturtium, calendula, borage and mixed lettuces. It was abundant both in food for me to eat and also for pollinators too. The sunflower heads and water dish in the foreground are for extra insect attracting and care.
These two lovely girls arrived for further care and rehab via hedgehog hospital. After several months with me were successfully released back into the wild, care of a large, safe garden with lots of great habitat (not mine, I live next to a busy road!), where they will have supplementary feeding if they choose too.
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