Permaculture Explained (Volume III Issue 15): Obtain a Yield

“You can’t work on an empty stomach”

Obtaining a yield. And in particular I’ve been reflecting on the crops we are harvesting here in our remote farm and home 1200 ft above sea level in the Yorkshire Dales.

One of the main aims of my edible garden design is to grow as much variety of food over as much of the year as possible. This year I have been really excited to grow and harvest lots of different varieties of blackcurrant, cucumbers, chilli peppers, French beans and cumin, all for the first time. Plus the many types of tomatoes, runner beans, courgettes and peas have all produced bumper crops.

I’ve planted most things successional for many months to avoid the late/early frosts here; weeks of cold wet weather, fluctuations/risk times of pests and diseases. I’ve also planted several varieties of each crop to ensure different timings of growth/maturity, a variety of tastes and uses, plus back ups for if one variety fails for some reason.

However, the main design element to increasing the diversity, longevity and resilience in the challenging environmental conditions here is to create as many microclimates as possible.

These include a domestic size polytunnel complete with water filled oil drum painted black to act as passive solar heating, ‘hot beds’ created with chicken/cow manure and straw, growing tender plants in large back containers (‘waste’ forestry plastic) first in the polytunnel, then moved to sunny places in the outside garden, bubble wrap/fleece/water piping cloches for raised beds both in the polytunnel and outside.

I planted wind breaks of mainly willow and thickened with self-seeded nettle and borage provided added shelter and warmth to the edible garden to protect from the most damaging winds.

I have also obtained yields of creating further biodiversity in the edges of the garden developed to provide shelter.

Another yield relates to my own health and well being as I grow more variety in foods for more of the year to provide nourishment for myself, my partner and friends, but also a yield of happiness and contentment that naturally occurs with the way I produce food and live my life.

For more news and information about my journey through the Diploma in Applied Permaculture Design you can read my blog:

http://shepherdwithattitude.weebly.com/my-blog.html

Katie Shepherd

Hill Farmer, Carer and Diploma in Applied Permaculture Design Apprentice