September saw a few of our crops finishing up for the year. We dug up all the rest of the potatoes, and picked our last courgettes & tomatoes. The carrots were ready to get in but I’m going to finish digging them up and storing them this week. Beetroot and parsnips are about finished growing now as well, I’ll also be getting these in before the end of Oct.

Rather than the graph I did last month, I think it will be clearer to just highlight the main harvests as we get them in, I’ll then give a summary of everything towards the end of the year.

Crop

Sowed area m2

Harvested Total (kg)

Harvest (kg) per m2

Potatoes

60

121

2

Courgette

7.5

14.85

3.16

Tomatoes

20

23.7

1.18

Cucumbers

10

29.3

2.93

Sweetcorn 5 3.5 0.7
Pumpkin 10 47 4.7
I was pretty happy with our potatoes this year, although we learnt a good lesson about watering. I would say 75% of our harvest weight came from the bottom 1/3 of each row, which was as far as our hose went when watering. Next year I will plant a similar area but will work on a better irrigation system so that we can maximise the whole row. Cucumber were a great success, it seems all of the Cucurbitaceae (don’t ask how to pronounce it), which includes, courgettes, pumpkins, melons, and cucumbers, all did very well in our soil. Next year I will focus on this family, planting more of everything including the melons, which did surprisingly well considering I didn’t treat them very well. We had a good harvest of Tomatoes, certainly my best effort yet. I think in the end we had about 30 plants outside, which gave us 90% of our harvest, and another 20 odd in a poly tunnel, which didn’t do very well at all. From May-end Aug the weather was hot and sunny with very little rain, I think the polytunel became too hot and we weren’t here enough for watering and airing. Next year I am going to try for 200 plants, with most outside, I’ll use the polytunel for peppers and aubergines.

Our latest work trip has been put on hold due to the return of the cold weather. It’s set to be –5 to –9 at night for the next couple of weeks. Hopefully warming up again by April 1st. So we have been sorting out our tree and soft fruit orders so that we will be ready to plant as soon as the weather allows.

This is a table of the plants, cost and quantities. We are going for traditional Polish varieties which grow a bit bigger than the commercial types but hopefully will be a bit hardier, and I been assured a lot tastier! As long as they will make good cider I think I will be happy. I didn’t realise until we started looking into it that some trees need a different variety as a pollinator, a partner to cross pollinate with. We’re hoping to plant the trees by the end of April. We had some much needed advice from Eddy Winko, who has a very informative blog of his endeavours to build a straw bale house in the south of Poland, regarding when to plant. We are planning to use http://sklep.skarbyogrodu.pl . They have been very helpful and found all of the varieties that we are looking for. Prices are in Zloty; at the moment we are getting about 4.75zl per £.

fruittreestable

Fruit trees are a medium-term investment. We wont be eating their fruit or making cider and wine with them for a few years. Most of the advice we’ve had is to pick the flowers off of them in the first couple of years and then take the fruit in the 3rd year. Some people say wait until the 5th.

The weather has improved with + temperatures during the day and a nice bit of sun. Still –3 odd at night but ok for staying in the campervan.

Spent two nights at the land to make a start on the plasterboarding work. I was a bit worried about staying up there on my own as its a bit eerie at night, lots of empty buildings and strange noises. I kept awake on high alert all night by the constant barking of dogs and what I think must have been the screaming of goats, which sounded like someone screaming for their life. This aside I managed to man-up and get on with work.

The Job:

To plasterboard and insulate the walls and ceiling in the first barn room. Eventually to make another room and toilet in the barn, but first things first.

Lukeplan-Edit_edited-small

I was concentrating on the room at the bottom of the picture.

I got started about 18:00, after dropping off our load of platerboards and tools from Warsaw, and then picking up all of our wood. I managed to work a few things out and get a couple of bits of batten up before the call of my chicken soup warming on the fire and couple of beers was too much and I called it a night.

First Night

Oki finally settled down.

1st Night.

As I mentioned I didn’t sleep that well but did get some rest in between the goat screams and dogs howling. I woke up just before 6am to see the sunrise and have a look around the land for wildlife. There is still ice on the pond and the ground was frozen solid. The sun rose at 100 degrees east, it was good to see which parts of the land get the first bits of light this time of year. Will help with the location of the Polytunel.

Sunrise 1st Morning.

The second day things went quite slowly. I worked from 8 til 20:30 but only managed to finish the wall I started the first night and get the batten up and the panel behind the fire in place before I finished.

First Day.

End of 1st Day.

A long day. The dog was unsettled again with all the howling, he looks a bit like a wolf but he doesn’t seem that wild, I think he was more scared than me. We’ll need a bigger dog for security I think. In the end, after he stomped around the room a bit and kept staring at me, he found a piece of insulation to sleep on. Is it a cat or a dog?

End of 1st Day.

Slept well. Woke at the same time and walked around the land again. Saw a group of 5 Roe dear, I got really close by lurking around the bushes. There were a couple of young ones playing, running around in circles, kind of like Oki when he’s being crazy. Also saw a hare. We don’t have many rabbits but there are a few of these about.

2nd Day. Sunrise over the buildings and middle pond.

A breakfast of porridge to start the day, following the recipe of a real live Scottsman from Cornwall; salt, butter, milk and brown sugar! Fuel for the day.

Breakfast station Second Day.

Back to work. I was up against the clock as I wanted to leave just after dark. Managed to just finish the second wall. Doesn’t sound very good but they were finicky. The rest will be a bit quicker and I should have some help Saturday to do the ceiling and make a start on the studwork in the other room.

End of 2nd Day.

Job done, all bit it a little rustic in style.

End of 2nd Day.

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.