I had a few days at the land last week, just enough time to work through a few little jobs on the allotment. We had a good bit of rain Wednesday, which was much needed and saved me what would have been a considerable amount of time watering.

First a little experiment: When I planted the sweetcorn I decided to compare a method of preparing the beds that I’d read about in John Seymour. He’s quite enthusiastic about a method called ‘Bastard Trenching’ (honestly). It involves digging a series of deep beds (about 12inch deep). The procedure is as follows:

  • Dig a trench across your bed &  put the soil to one side.
  • Fork the bottom so that it is loose then add a load of manure into the bottom of the hole.
  • Dig the next trench to the right of the 1st one. You put the soil from this trench into the first hole; topsoil in the bottom, then the rest, thus filling the first with the soil from the second (I suppose this is where the bastard bit comes from).
  • Continue for however many rows you want.
  • Fill the last row with the soil from the first.

Also refereed to as the ‘Deep Bed Method’ it is apparently a good way to grow heavier yielding crops in a smaller space. The theory is that the roots more easily penetrate the loose, deep soil and thus go down rather than out. You then sow stuff closer together, which has the added advantage of creating dense foliage that connects when the plant is mature creating a canopy over the soil. This helps to keep the moisture on the ground in dry climates. I have definitely benefited from this with our broadbeans. They are very close, with no gaps between foliage. When the other beds are dry this bed is still moist.

I decided to run a little test with the sweetcorn. Half in the deep bed and half on a normally dug section. The results so far are below. The deep bed section definitely looks healthier.

Sweetcorn experiment. The left section was Bastard trenched (deep dug) with manure, the right just dug over.

Sweetcorn experiment: The left section was sown using the ‘deep bed method’ & the right section was sown in to a regular bed.

Below are the pictures from some of the other potterings I did over the few days:

Ctonka (Potato Beetles), something new to me, you have to pick them all of otherwise they lay eggs and destroy the plants. See next photo.

Stonka; Pronounced Stonka (Potato Beetles), something new to me, you have to pick them all off otherwise they lay eggs and destroy the plants. See next photo.

Ctonka hatched and eating my potatoes! Spent a good few hrs picking these.

Stonka hatched and eating my potatoes! Spent a good few hrs picking these.

Tied up outside Tomatoes.

Tied up outside Tomatoes. These are the ones that suffered early on. Looking OK now.

Tied up and picked suckers off tomatoes.

Tied up and picked suckers off tomatoes in Poly-tunnel.

Basil planted outside amongst the tomatoes. No slugs here something that made this impossible in Cornwall.

Basil planted outside amongst the tomatoes. No slugs here something that made this impossible in Cornwall.

First Tomato

First Tomato

Re-potted strawberries from shoots.

Re-potted strawberries from shoots. Using pots means once the shoot is established you can cut the cord and plant where you like.

Planted out asparagus.

Planted out asparagus. Dug 12 inch deep trench with manure in bottom.

Asparagus in. Just 2 yrs to wait now!

Asparagus in. Just 2 yrs to wait now!

Tied them up ready for training.

Took down broken Mk 1.0 Poly-tunnel & tied up grape vines  ready for training.

We have a few pumpkins like this on the go. They are giant varieties.

We have a few pumpkins like this on the go. They are giant varieties.

Not sure what this is, I can't remember sowing it.

Not sure what this is, I can’t remember sowing it.

Can't remember what this is either. Looks cool though.

Can’t remember what this is either. Looks cool though.

Spring planted broadbeans pronounced boob in Polish (insert your own joke).

Spring planted broadbeans pronounced boob in Polish (insert your own joke).
First small harvest of peas and broad beans.

First small harvest of peas and broad beans. Very tasty! Should have a load by the end of the week.

We have a good supply of radish and cucumber now.

We have a good supply of radish and cucumber now. Makes for a nice Polish breakfast.

Advertisements

Following a period of inactivity on our blog in 2012 we are picking it up again under quite different circumstances.

When we first started this blog we had just acquired our first allotment and were  keen to learn about growing our own fruit and veg, as well as catching fish, foraging and anything else that would help us live a bit cheaper. we have always been drawn to the  type of  self-sufficient life John Seymour describes in his ‘Fat of the Land’. All my ventures in the past, and now ours (with my wife), have in one way or another been with this in mind, always limited by our lack of capital to start any type of small-holding.

Well last year things  started to move forward when my wife’s family bought a small-holding in Poland. We signed up to move over and help work the land. Our inactivity on the blog was due to a few changes we had to make in England to get us into the position to move over to Poland in November 2012. Our allotment suffered a lot due to us moving into a caravan a 20-mile round trip away. Initially I kept up planting by cycling to and fro, but this wasn’t sustainable over the year with work etc.

Sad sight of our allotment after we neglected it 2012.

Sad sight of our allotment after we neglected it 2012.

It was a bit sad but our allotment suffered and we took to monthly visits just to strim the weeds. In summary we packed everything up in England, left our regular jobs, and I moved away from family and friends to emigrate to Poland.

A few months on and we are in Poland, waiting out the winter in the city ready to start restoring the buildings so that we can live there, and working the land. Our goal now is to work towards the type of self-sufficiency John Seymour achieved. This is a loose goal, I see ourselves on a path from our recent way of life, working 9-5 all week and then spending all our money on food and accommodation, to a life of working very long hours on our own small-holding to directly provide the things we  need as a family.

Our families plot. Slightly larger at  70,000 m2.

Our families plot. Slightly larger at 70,000 m2.

I will be providing the technical information as I did for the allotment before. Again I am still not in any way an expert but hopefully our efforts will be of interest to people who are thinking about a similar move. The blog also serves as a way to document things for ourselves and our family to come, its already interesting to look back at our first posts from a couple of years ago when all this was just a pipe dream.

A few pictures so you get the idea:

Barns and Houses in the distance.

Barns and Houses in the distance.

Main house on a sunny day.

Main house on a sunny day.

Largest of the three ponds.

Largest of the three ponds.

Winter view from entrance.

Winter view from entrance.