GARDD RHOSYR, THE MARRAM GRASS ECOLOGICAL LANDSCAPE PROJECT
Compiled by Catherine Griggs
Forward to the Author Catherine Griggs (Bsc Zoology and Conservation) Ecological landscape designer and mentor who has directed projects both in the Americas and Europe, dealing with a diverse range of environment’s including tropical, arid, temperate and now maritime. Catherine Griggs utilizes agro ecology and permaculture design to design and create ecological landscapes.
“Create a lively space, a community park; in the long run it will need to make money. It should produce food for the cafe and provide a place for the community and wildlife; it should also provide models for sustainable food production” (Manager Liam and Chef Ellis Barry).
The following report is an accompanying document to the design maps for Garth Rhosyr, a 13.5 acre garden design for The Marram Grass Café. The garden consists predominantly of native woodland, fruit and nut trees, truffle trees, berry bushes and many other edible plants to form an ecologically designed food forest; whereby its structure mimics that of a natural forest with many layers and integrated nutrient cycling and pest management. The garden also encompasses a football pitch, wetlands and ponds, paths, meadows, a carpark, livestock, a kitchen garden and eco camping facilities.
The café aims to produce 70% of its own produce without the use of chemicals as the focus will be on developing and caring for the soil of the site and demonstrating organic farming methods. All kitchen waste will be composted and returned to the garden, and eco camping will be facilitated through the use of renewable energy, compost toilets and reed beds for grey water. The garden will be an excellent site for wildlife with a mosaic of valuable habitats to include wetlands, meadows and woodland. The adjacent nature reserve Newborough Warren supports endangered red squirrel and great crested newt. It is also an important breeding and feeding ground for many wetland birds. With the creation of Gardd Rhosyr it’s hoped these animals will be able to expand their range utilising the new habitats created.
The project will be a flagship experiment for agroforestry and sustainability within the hospitality sector, by demonstrating techniques for converting unproductive grazing land to use for crop production to support a restaurant business, whilst equally benefiting wildlife through habitat creation.
Anglesey is situated in a unique location of the British Isles. The Menai straights is rich in marine wildlife, whilst on land there are areas of vegetation that can only be found on the island. As a result, it is important to protect and conserve this fragile ecosystem. The garden will pay homage to this ecosystem and will act as a meeting place and focal point for visitors to the island and locals alike, acting as an educational sounding board, the garden will be a place to host courses and education events in natural history and sustainable living techniques.
Newborough and Dwyran School will help to plant the woodland and will also be instrumental in developing the final design for the area. They will also be encouraged to use the kitchen garden to grow their own food whilst learning about wildlife, nutrition and sustainability. There will be involvement with the wider community through volunteer opportunities, courses, events and recreational activities such as the football, walking, and picnics taking part in events, courses, camping and job opportunities created for maintaining and managing the garden and its associated projects.
The Marram grass Gardd Rhosyr aims to foster high quality food, available to local people at reasonable prices and with its warm atmosphere, local music events and pleasant and inspiring community space it hopes the local community will develop a sense of pride and stewardship towards the garden they helped to create. There has already been volunteer involvement with the erection of the 200m willow windbreak and more people are offering to volunteer for future projects.
Gardd Rhosyr will be the first of its kind on Anglesey, a garden that aims to produce at least 70% of its cafes produce whilst creatively experimenting with weird and wonderful crops for their unique and interesting menu; it will be a tourist attraction in itself. The beautiful environment of Anglesey attracts around an estimated 1509200 tourist per year IACC STEAM report (2010), with many coming to visit Newborough beach and residing and dining at the marram grass restaurant and campsite, owing to its convenient location so close to the reserve and great reputation for great food and atmosphere. With Gardd Rhosyr providing a truly unique dining and camping experience, education and retreat space the amount of tourists staying in the area is likely to increase, allowing the business to expand and create more jobs and opportunities for people within the local community, and improving the local economy through the use of local services and amenities.
Eventually the project should be able to pay for itself, through returns made from the glamping facility, hosting courses and events, the sale of garden products and garden visitors who dine in the cafe and use the campsite facilities. The café will become a pioneering restaurant being the first of its kind on the island to grow the majority of its produce whilst also creating a wildlife and community haven. The garden will enable the café to use the freshest produce grown on Anglesey soil, enabling the restaurant to produce truly unique products that could eventually develop into a widely recognisable brand that is sold internationally, inspiring other restaurants to take the more sustainable approach.
In order to develop the design for the garden the various processes where followed including an Evidence based investigation of the clients wants and needs and the proposed site. Following this is the design section detailing the preliminary Design of the wider area; encompassing the full 13.5 acres, this design is still in development as it is awaiting feedback from the community and trial garden. Then the final design for the kitchen and forest garden, this is a finalised design of a small area of the field that will be used as trail site for the wider design as mentioned above. Following this there are recommendations for implementation and more detailed descriptions of aspects of the project. Finally a list of useful resources and references has been provided.
An interview with Ellis Chef and Liam Manager helped to formulate the following proposal for the project.
Time and manpower
Amount of time available for maintaining property per week: 1 day per week
How many people will be involved with managing the site? : Initially 3
Do they expect to employ more people? Yes when they make more money
Financial situation: Budget for implementation currently unknown
How are they expecting to fund the project?: With the business profits, donations, crowd funding, grants.
What financial returns do they expect to get: They want the project to pay for itself
What kind of involvement will people have?: use it for teaching, schools and recreation
How will they be involving the community?: schools work in garden, community space, volunteers, woofers football, music, yurts.
How much do they spend per week on vegetables? £500
Which vegetables do they use the most of: Salsify, Jerusalem artichokes, mushrooms, carrots, spuds 50 kilos per week, broad beans, peas, runner beans, tomatoes, courgettes, aubergine, peppers. Pumpkins, herbs- micro herbs.
Which foods that they use cost the most? Meat, lamb, pig and beef is the biggest outgoing but they would like to demonstrate how to grow it holistically. Soft fruits cost them a lot of money.
How much of the produce would they lie to grow themselves? 70%, would like to have free range chicken eggs,
Which food would they like to be able to produce themselves: all veg, not enough land to produce all meat but perhaps birds.
How reliant on field would they like to be?: 60-70% reliant on the field, they see it as a bonus whatever they get.
Vehicle preference and needs:
Car/truck/farm equipment/recreational equipment. Building a car park on the left hand side near the road. Walkway to football pitch, tent space will need paths too.
Football field, 90- 120 meter long 45 or 90 meters wide
What is the longevity of the project?
They will keep the project running, but eventually employ managers.
- The location: 13.5 acres, two fields North Westward of White Lodge, Penlon, Newborough LL61
The image above details the two fields allocated for development
- Eco-systems, structures, fences, pathways, sacred sites: There are fences all the way around the two fields, with intermingled hedgerow and stone walls. There is a drainage ditch running along the top of the top field and down the right hand side of the left field. This has a stream running through it. There is a gate towards the left hand corner at the top of the top field, a gate at the bottom right hand corner of the bottom field and a gate connecting the two fields where the two fields meet in the left hand corner. There are several pylons at the far right of the bottom field.
- Agricultural History: used to grow carrots, cattle and sheep
- Known challenges on-site:
- Water: There is a high water to about 1.5 feet down, there is also water logged areas with standing water covering about 1 half of the land in the winter months.
- Topography: A gentle south facing slope
- Erosion: Not a problem
- Noise: Not a problem
- Visual pollution: not a problem
- Unpleasant odours or other off-site nuisance, dust, privacy concerns, water treatment thing: block out the sound of the road
- Time and money: Unknown currently
- Infrastructure Location for:
- Plants, animals-just a plain field so far.
- Structures: ease of access and for excavation, foundation strength, depth of bedrock, depth of water table (Liam is a trained architect so he should be able to access this, we will be using wooden structures so we can build on concrete posts and make platforms or make mounds from the earth displaced by building pools.
- Wells: Depth of water, rock porosity and permeability, pollution potential. Water depth is 1.5 feet and at the surface in some areas so it will be easy to make wells. Fortunately the run of from the nearby fields which contain cattle is transported away by the stream running in the drainage ditch. So this eliminates the problem of pollution reaching the fields themselves.
- Septic: depth of bedrock, depth of water table, drainage characteristics of soil. Accessing bedrock is not necessary as we will not be building structures which require foundations; The soil is sandy but then becomes clay 1.5 foot down so it drains initially then stops. If a reed bed system where to be used for the sewerage it would need to be quite extensive to deal with the lack of porosity.
- None existing but good solar access and wind.
- Resources (on/off site)
- Natural features: There are large areas of standing water, with juncus growing, the standing water encompasses a good half of the field. Over all the fields are very flat. With the upper field tilting to the south.
- Edibles: black berry’s, dandelions, chickweed, plantain, nettle.
- Sources of biomass: Local meat suppliers will supply manure, grass clippings, seaweed. On site the main biomass would come from grass clippings and the restaurant waste.
- Views: the area is near by an area of outstanding natural beauty, but the field itself is very desolate.
- Seed sources; we will rely on the real seed company as they have locally bred variety’s.
- Legal Constraints
- Restrictions on use – Planning needed for the car park and any buildings, planning for a lake, Planning for the poly tunnel risk assessments for schools involvement.
- Existing roads; the road running parallel to the field, access is via the five bar gates, no roads exist through the field
- A road of some sort will be needed to bring in manure and mulch by a tractor. Paths will be needed for dog walkers, campers and the rest of the community.
- A car park will need to be constructed for extra costumers
- Electricity, gas, water (well or district), telephone, sewage, internet (not relevant)
- Locate existing utility lines, water lines, sewer and septic; non to speak of
- Community Land Use
- What is going on upstream and over the fence (toxic sprays, cattle in creeks, etc.), cattle and sheep grazing, however the run off from these is diverted along the edge of the field.
- Economic and emotional health of community: new borough beach is an important tourist attraction, however there is not much else, the Marram grass is a very popular restaurant that sees a large amount of custom, they wish to bring people together with music and a park like space where people can play football and enjoy nature. The space will facilitate skills sharing, especially with the local school.
An environmental assessment was made of both fields allocated for the project, this is to ascertain its critical influences which will ultimately affect what is created, what can be grown and how it is implemented and managed.
- Solar access: Slope gently southward
- Light availability: Fully exposed, 1651.4 hours of sunlight per year
- Temperature: Average high and low temps (hardiness zone) min temp 3.0 degrees max temp 18 degrees
- Average rainfall: yearly 143 days per year, around 14 days per month
- Frost: No ground frost, air frost Dec, Jan, Feb around 5 days per month frequency, direction are unknown
- Hail: timing, frequency, direction unknown
- Storm: timing, frequency, direction, unknown
- Micro climates; near the stone walls
- Wind access, completely exposed to wind
- Cool seaward winds from the west and biting winds from the east
- Water quality? Ground water clean possibly slightly brackish in places
- Existing water rights and resources: note potential water rights unknown
- Surface water and level of water table: When surveyed in February there was standing water on half of both the fields. The water Table fluctuates seasonally rising to 45 cm below the soil in winter sinking to around 1 m in summer.
- Drainage patterns; the field drains down the drainage ditches located on the north east of the plot. There is standing water due to clay deposits on half of both fields
- Flood levels – 100 year flood, Maps show this area is not affected.
- Soils and Geology
- Geology and conservation maps (government maps)
- Soil type: A top layer of silt with sand below then clay/sand
- Soil tests – Typically the soil is acid ph 4.5, with low Nitrogen, and medium k and p.
- Drainage and absorption, drainage is very poor due to the high water table, However there is good hydraulic conductivity owing to the sand like structure of the soil. With the potential for good drainage when the water table drops.
- Soil depth and organic content. Little to no organic content, 5% clay, 30% silt, 65% sand.
- Stability of site, the site is stable
- Maximum depth of frost,? There appears to be none although this will need to be checked with local farmers
- History of use, used for growing carrots, sheep and cows
- A gentle slope southward but otherwise not deviating in level by more than a meter.
- No Keyline’s, valleys, and ridges are significant perhaps only at north east side where both fields meet.
- Natural disasters
- Heavy rains and floods
- Strong sea storms.
- Identification of existing plants and their vigor; Juncus grass on damp areas, nettle towards south end of field, daisies, plantain, clover, thistle.
- Forests – none, but patches of forest are present in the surrounding landscape
- Domestic: sheep are grazed but they will be removed
- Water fowl and native birds : a flight path for wetland birds
- Aquaculture: the area is nearby lagoons used by breeding birds
- Native animals of concern: there are tracks of a fox which could pose a threat to chickens and ducks
(The site assessment and environmental analysis will provide a valuable basis to reflect upon for decision making in the future, please continue to add to this as more information becomes available through working with the land and observing.)
“The people of Newborough originally came from the village of Llanfaes, which unfortunately happened to be the site that Edward I chose to build Beaumaris castle. As a result, the inhabitants of the village were all evicted at the end of the 13th century and re-housed in the ‘New Borough’ at the opposite end of the island, where it became a prosperous town surrounded by rich farmlands.
However, in the 14th century a series of violent storms buried a large portion of this area under sand dunes. To stop the advance of the dunes, marram grass was planted and soon provided raw material for a new industry in the town, the weaving of the marram grass leaves to manufacture mats and baskets. Rabbits colonized the dunes, giving the area the name Newborough Warren.”
This indicates that the area has been able to support agriculture before the advent of chemical fertilisers and that it was originally productive. (fig.1).
After the Second World War; an afforestation project resulted in the pine planation on Newborough’s dunes, providing more stabilisation and also timber, (Fig.1) I would assume that because these measures have been taken to stabilise the dunes the site is at little risk of becoming swamped with sand.
The standing stone as shown on the base map figure 4. Possibly dates back 4,000 years when its purpose may have been to calculate when it was time to bring the sheep off the mountains and onto the lower pastures. It aligns with a point where the sun sets between two mountains. Apparently the date this alignment happens is the historic date of when the sheep were bought down “geologist neighbour Barry 2015” I think to honour this stone and celebrate it we should use it as a point of focus within the garden.
According to local sources the lower reaches of the fields where once part of a huge estuarine river bed system “Geologist neighbour Barry 2015”, the remnants of this great river Afon Braint and Afon Cefni; border the outer edges of the mud flats and can be clearly seen on the historic map below (fig.2 and the recent Os map above (fig.1.). Today the areas below Penlon and around Dwyran are subject to flooding when the winter water table and the Afon Braint is full, this area is an ancient flood plain. Barry the neighbour experiences surface water throughout the winter months but claims that the fields allocated for development are high enough to avoid this. The map below (fig.3.) shows areas which areas are likely to flood. As can be seen the field is not within the areas of concern.
The fields have some unusual hydrology with the water table reaching 1.5ft down during the winter months. There are also areas with sitting surface water, most notable on the bottom half of the top field and top half of the bottom field as featured in the image below figure 4. According to a geologist neighbour Barry 2015 this is due to a layer of rock formed during the Precambrian shift. Water draining down the hill runs over it and is forced to the surface. This water logging is compounded by the presence of alluvial deposits most likely left over from the remnants of the river and erosion from surrounding fields being affected by cattle and rain. These fine clay particles have coated areas of the fields where the sediment settles and has resulted in poor drainage of surface water. These areas can most easily be recognised by the presence of juncus grass. In summary, the middle section beneath both fields is water logged with both surface water retention and a high water table. Towards the roundabout, the water table seems lower. However, upon digging test pits I recognised that there is a high degree of fluctuation with it receding the further we go into the summer. When last analysed in Late April it was up to a metre down in places. (Please see figure 4 for locations of waterlogging). The ramifications of this unusual hydrology mean that special care must be taken when choosing tree species that are adapted to such an environment. Hardier trees can be planted to push the water table down to make way for trees requiring a lower water table. For a productive orchard the water table must be at least 60cm down. Earth works can be used to provide more opportunities for planting in the form of creating berms and ridge and furrow. This area has great potential for creating a wetland habitat although it may be somewhat seasonal owing to the fluctuating water table, there is also the possibility that the clay layer may be sufficient for lining ponds, allowing them to retain water even when the water table is low. There may also be sufficient clay for constructing cob buildings too.
1 cm silty-humic matter, graduating into sand, there are somewhat stratified layers of clay towards the top end of the bottom field and towards the lower and right hand side of the top field (figure. 4.) PH is generally around 4.5 N2 low, Phosphorus and potassium medium. Soil of a sandy composition has the advantage of good drainage and heats up quickly in the spring. It has the disadvantage of drying out. Its lack of nitrogen also suggests it will need the addition of lots organic matter to become truly productive. As well as added lime as it is currently very acidic, it needs to be around pH 6.4.
The climate is generally good for wales, the area is known for being sunny and warm, however the cool winds coming from the east and west mean that great emphasis must be placed upon ensuring windbreaks are installed before expensive flora. The area also experiences sufficient rainfall throughout the year reducing the risk of desiccation without watering providing there is sufficient humic matter within the soil to hold moisture.
The site is situated among two dune and mudflat systems which are very important breeding areas for wetland birds. As a result the field is on a well-used flight path for these birds that will most likely utilise pools and meadows created in the field. Populations of red squirrel are present in the adjacent plantation. Newborough forest is also one of the biggest spawning areas for the endangered great crested newt. These animals may possibly colonise the site if it becomes suitable for their ecological requirements. The road separating the field from the nature from Newborough warrens my also act as a barrier preventing the colonisation.
Pilons running along the right hand side of the two fields will limit what trees can be grown, with emphasis placed on low growing trees such as willows, birches, rowan and elder. The field has good gated access although a gate directly connecting the marram grass to the field will be needed. But this has been designed in with the carpark plan as shown below ( Figure 5).
-South facing aspect, open plan, sandy soil, mild temperatures, Good amount of sun, availability of water in the form of a trough and the ground water, access to unlimited biomass in the form of manure and an abundance of willow, Good revenue income potential, good community involvement, owners have strong can do attitude. The challenges of the site and its unusual hydrology and soil composition will provide a fascinating model for the ecological agriculture and permaculture community.
-The field has a high water table over half of it the site is very exposed and has strong cool winds coming from the west that could shake newly planted trees hindering or preventing root growth. There is very low nitrogen which means it will take time to establish fertility. So the project may get off to a somewhat slow start.
The site is very acidic which means it will need some amending and also careful consideration for planting.
The construction of the car park could make starting the project difficult as the areas which are being developed may overlap. The projects development depends on exterior funding which puts uncertainty on times scales for development. But also promotes the involvement of exterior parties which may help to ensure the resilience of the project in the future.
A truffle tree forest as there are grants and partnership schemes available, planting a native forest, there are large grants available, subsided prices on trees and government subsidies for turning grazing land over to forest.
There is also great potential for doing a community planting scheme with the local schools.
The high water table and clay deposits mean great opportunities for building reed beds, wetland meadows, lakes and lagoons. The sandy soil with low nutrients is good for growing root veg.
The existing camping ground means there is lodging places available for woofers and help ex people to help implement the project.
Many funding agencies are also interested in helping the project because of its reputation for supporting local. It is suitable for various grants and bursaries.
-there is a risk that the site could be flooded, it may also be vulnerable to hurricanes and hailstorms. The trees may fall over in high winds due to the sandy soil. It could also be subject to vandalism or neglect owing to the busy nature of the restaurant business.
The evidence has demonstrated that the Marram Grass forest garden project will require considerable inputs to become established and reach its full potential. Understanding this is the first step to realising the garden. A basic knowledge of the land and its history has been achieved through this investigation which gives the context upon how to move forward. The plan which has been developed upon the evidence is a tool to ensure the viability of the project and should be considered as a flexible guide which can be manipulated and tailored when required.
The Marram Grass forest garden project can become a model for landscape and garden designers working in conditions limited by the land, where the land is not necessarily considered ‘rich’ or suiting for growing. This project will steward the land and regenerate it, creating a multiplier effect with many positive feedback mechanisms supporting the further enrichment and subsequently, produce. Not only will this project provide produce, but an experience, a hub to be used socially and educationally, a project that encompasses many facets, socially, environmentally and economically.
Careful consideration must be made with this site because it is an ancient mud flat, which experiences seasonally high water tables and is predominantly, composed of sand. Therefore, using early succession species to act as nursery plants for other species may be the key to the success of establishing a productive food forest on this site. I will suggest using maritime nitrogen species of shrub to do this as well as nitrogen fixing legume ground covers. Using native species of tree available from the woodland trust will help develop a supportive site for food producing trees. The creation of lagoons, pools and ponds will enhance the surrounding environment for wildlife residing in the Newborough reserve. The extracted soil taken from the wetland areas can be used to build berms, mounds and hills which will suit species of tree that do not tolerate high water. As the site is so unique and somewhat challenging it is important to use all work as an educational tool. Accepting and valuing feedback that the land gives to improve future decision making. All work here must be seen as an experiment for the developing science of forest gardening and agroecology.
Client wish list
Elements to be included in the project
The following elements will be incorporated into the project
In order of priority ……
- Produce for the cafe
The kitchen garden
Perennial greens: Asparagus, sea kale, spinach, miners lettuce, Russian kale, sorrel, Italian rocket, globe artichoke, hops.
Non perennial greens and brassicas: A range of salads leaves and lettuces, mustard greens, Cavalo kale, cabbages, Japanese greens during the winter, broccoli, Brussels, leaks, cauliflower,
Beans and Peas: Runner, dwarf, mangetout, sweat peas, broad beans.
Perennial tubers: Jerusalem artichokes, yacon, oca. ( these tubers are all so great for regulating blood sugar and metabolism)
Annual Tubers and root veg: Carrots, swede, parsnip, turnip, celeriac, potatoes,
Perennial Alliums: Welsh rambling onions, wild garlic
Annual alliums: Onions, garlic
Curcurbits: Squashes, pumpkins, cucumbers, courgettes
Herbs: A selection of mints, thyme, parsley, rosemary, sage, chives, dill, fennel, tarragon, marjoram.
Microgreens: basil, coriander, beetroot, peas.
Solonaceae: Tomatoes, aubergines, peppers, potatoes
-the tool shed as discussed below
-gated enclosed area to keep dogs off
The Kitchen/ Forest garden
Shrubs: Gooseberry, black current, red and white current, Jostaberry, Worcester berry, choke berry, medlar.
Vines: Japanese wine berry, Blackberry, Raspberry, kiwi.
Trees: Sea Buck-thorn, service tree, elder berry, Apple, pear, Quince, cherry, plum, damson, crab apple, fig.
Ground covers: Strawberry’s.
Nuts: hazel, hack, walnut, sweet chestnut,
Fungus: Truffles trees! Oyster mushrooms, shitake, field mushroom, parasol, penny buns, chicken of the woods etc
Perennial ground covers:
There is an extensive list of wild edible perennial, herbaceous plants that can be grown here as weed suppressing and bio-accumulating ground covers. Their use will require knowledge of wild edibles.
2.Community and wildlife space
A recreation space for the community, encompassing beautiful spaces with wildlife, trees and flowers, a place to host events, camping, retreats, guests and weddings. Also an area for dog walkers, children to play and learn about nature.
- football pitch
- car park
- camping area
- glamping area for yurts or bell tents
- eco toilet compost or reed bed system
- recycling and waste management area
- fire pit and BBQ area
- lake or pools for fishing and wild life
- wash points
- drinking water
- walkways and footpaths
- sign posts and description boards
- special areas for children to play
- Teaching and mentoring
The field will provide an ideal site for hosting courses in permaculture, kitchen gardening, forest gardening. And will also allow student chefs to experience using the freshest ingredients and have a knowledge of how they came to be. The area can also be used for school and college groups wanting to learn about wildlife and food production.
Activities for schools could include:
-putting up bird boxes
-working in the vegetable garden
-exploring nature and identifying birds and insects
Activities for student chefs:
-working in the veg garden
-planning planting schedules
Infrastructure for activities
-tool shed and tea room; could be a simple shipment container covered in soil and planted with wildflowers, inside a small wood burner to keep people warm. This would be a good starting point as it is easy to lock and will keep all the kit safe.
-yurts or tents for teaching courses or use the barn.
- Volunteering and woofing
The campsite provides the ideal opportunity to host woofers and volunteers to help with the implementation of the project and could provide the majority of labor needed for the projects creation and maintenance.
All animals will be fully integrated into the garden system and will perform the various functions to support the many elements: recycling waste, keeping down weeds, preparing ground, accelerating succession, providing fertility and pest management.
-pigs for eating food waste and breeding from to raise piglets elsewhere.
-ducks for their eggs eating slugs
-geese for keeping the grass down and eating as well as their eggs.
-chickens for eggs and clearing and leveling ground
-chickens grown for meat and their droppings.
A few dozen hives for pollinating and for use and sale of products in the café.
The design of the project has been split into two, with the most focus going into a small plot to serve as a trial area adjacent to the café. The outcomes of this plot will influence the finalised design of the wider area. Below is the preliminary plan which is a plan in development and then the finalised plan of the small trial area the kitchen and forest garden
The Preliminary Plan for Both Fields
The image above details a preliminary plan for both fields, encompassing the complete design of the kitchen and forest garden, football field, truffle orchard, glamping area, lagoons, meadows, intensive crop production area, native woodland and cropping trees.
Description of Preliminary Plan for both fields
The design of the wider field is a work-in progress as the feedback from the first test area as well as the needs and wants of the community will help to determine the finalised plan. But currently it is known that the wider field will be a larger version of the kitchen and forest garden encompassing lagoon’s, native woodland intermingled with fruit and nut trees and bushes, edible fungi, and an edible and medicinal perennial ground layer. There will be Poly tunnels and vegetable gardens but also a community football pitch, community hub cob house and glamping area.
Primarily the area would be planted with many native trees, particularly wetland species which are suited to this environment, these wetland species will prepare the environment for more sensitive crop bearing species by helping to eliminate standing water, adding humic matter to the soil and pushing the water table down through the capillary action of their roots. Nitrogen fixing wetland species such as Alder can also be planted in abundance and regularly coppiced to provide nitrogen for the surrounding trees. In the dryer areas sea buckthorn, and broom which are also maritime species can be managed in the same way for the same reason.
The trees can be planted by local school children and grants are available from Glastir for this work to be undertaken. The woodland trust provides support for the application of these grants and also offers free tree packs and subsidised tree packs. The native trees will provide a habitat for wildlife and will also provide a nurturing environment for fruit and nut trees which can either be planted among them or in woodland glades and meadows, providing they are well spaced and receive adequate light.
Oaks and Hazels will be inoculated with truffle spores and planted using the truffle tree partnership scheme. Within 5 years these trees will start to produce truffles which can easily be harvested from just beneath the soil using a trained dog see resource. These trees will be located towards the eastern end of the field on the dryer half towards the road.
The developing design also encompasses one central large wild flower meadow with a round house built as a community hub for parties, gatherings, courses and teaching. The round house could be built from straw bales and cob as there is clay available in the local area and possibly a large seem of it beneath the boggy area where the two fields meet. Such cob houses as this can be built whilst teaching an earthern building course. This way the cost of the building is more or less covered. It would be advisable to raise the cob house on a mound for protection from standing water. The house could be heated with a wood burner and electric could be provided by solar panels or a wind turbine; grants are available to help businesses use renewable energy from Environment Wales. In the meadow there are also compost toilets, the compost from the toilets can be used on the forest garden.
Towards the top right hand side of the field where was once a boggy area is a large lagoon used for fishing and wildlife. Trees surround it providing shelter and this beautiful spot is also home to a number of yurts used by glampers. The paths and yurt spots may need to be raised in this area in case of standing water during high rains. The soil taken from the lagoons can be used to do this. The glampers have the use of compost toilets and solar powered showers. The run off grey water from the showers runs into a reed bed system which cleans and filters the water; but care must be taken to ensure the glampers use eco-friendly products.
There is also a wood fired steam room nestled amongst some willow trees, when people get really hot they can dive into the adjacent natural swimming pool area of the lake, which is surrounded by wild flowers and reeds and connects to the main lake via a reed bed. The solar powered showers run off leads into a separate reed bed which filters and cleans the water. Planted in and around the glamping area are wildflowers and fruit trees that have fruits which ripen during the tourist season so that guest can enjoy picking and eating their own fruit. The lagoon system has great wildlife value and will provide a habitat and possibly breeding ground for many wetland birds, frogs, toads and fish. It can also be stocked with fish to be used in the restaurant and for anglers. The creation of wetlands is encouraged by the environment agencies and therefore grants and subsidies are available for support in there creation.
The field has many different small glades and meadows connected by winding paths adorned with wildflowers where children can run and play and build dens. The paths are edged with fruit and nut trees and berry bushes which boast attractive blossoms in the spring lining the paths with flowers of pink and white. Some ornamental trees may also be good along these paths such as more weeping willows and double blossoming cherry trees. The paths cross at the standing stone underneath 4 large weeping willows. Wisteria and clematis could be grown up the willows once they have established adding a colourful magnificence to this focal point. There are benches under the willows so people can sit and enjoy the tranquil spot, the sound of the willows in the breeze and ruminate on the history of the stone.
Beneath the willows at the standing stone where many paths meet, One path leads to the top field where there are more wet loving native trees, they are inter-planted with wetland flowers and wet loving berry’s; cranberry, blueberry, cowberry, bilberry. This wet zone is also great for edible fungi which can be cultured on logs. In the drier top half of the field is the football pitch surrounded in trees and sheltered from the wind.
Adjacent to the original kitchen and forest garden more poly-tunnels could be erected providing they have sufficient wind shelter which could take the form of more willow windbreaks and dense plantings of native trees. The poly tunnels could also be part buried using sand from the lagoon’s to help conserve heat and protect their structure from the wind. This area could be used for growing crops, a tree nursery and also keeping chickens used as a chicken tractor to clear and fertilise ground for rotational plantings or to generate compost whilst producing warmth in the green house.
The pigs can be used throughout the implementation of the garden and for future management, namely to prepare ground, digging up the earth and remove grass whilst fertilising it and thus preparing it for either direct planting with tree species or nitrogen fixing ground covers and wild flowers. Once the trees are established the pigs can be rotated beneath them to clear diseased and fallen fruit and also prepare the ground for perennial ground layers of edibles such as globe artichokes, asparagus, strawberry’s, mints, angelica, berry bushes, wild garlic, and tubers such as Jerusalem artichoke, perennial nasturtium and yacon.
Sheep, goats or geese can be used to manage the meadows, used on a rotational basis in small paddocks with electric fences they can be used to build soil, enhance diversity and fertility if grazed holistically.
The kitchen and Forest Garden finalised Design
The image above shows the finalised design for the kitchen and forest garden encompassing a geodome, annual veg area, Hugelkultur beds, ponds, tool shed, tree nursery, composting area, fruit and nut trees, vines, berry bushes, n2 fixing trees, edible ground cover, herbs, wildflower bee meadow, bee hives, small cob round house, ornamental wildlife pond, seasonal experimental pond and willow windbreak. The garden manages its own nutrient, pest management and water catchment needs.
The kitchen and forest Garden Finalised Design Summary
The kitchen and forest garden is a prerequisite to the wider area, owing to the unusual soil type and hydrology it will provide a very valuable test ground for acquiring information for the larger area. The designated area is close to the café for ease of management and is also on one of the dryer zones. This area encompasses most elements which will be found throughout the wider area to include a willow windbreak which surrounds the entire area. A kitchen garden composed of a Hugelkultur bed which shelters annual crops and herbs, and a geodome for nursing plants and growing micro greens. Fruit and nut trees grow around the Hugelkultur bed with perennial edibles and fruit bushes grown below them.
The garden has two pools one of which may be used as a natural swimming pool as well as providing a habitat for wildlife and aquatic edible plants for the café. The other pond, the seasonal pond will be solely for wildlife without the intervention from man. Mounds, ridges and furrows will be created in the garden to add interest, depth and character but also to provide microclimates for many different kinds of fruit and nut tree and plant. The garden will have areas for wildflowers and a bee meadow where honey bees can be kept. Volunteers, workers and guests will have somewhere to get warm and have tea in a small adobe round house situated near a fire pit and benches.
The garden takes care of its own nutrient and water needs as the Hugelkultur bed will realise nutrient over the next 20 years from its core composed of logs, and woodchips. The garden is also rife with nutrient accumulating plants which can be used to make compost and mulching. The garden catches its rainwater and stores it with run of from the tool shed and the geodome. The garden also takes care of its pest management with the help of wild birds, frogs, toads, newts which habitat requirements have carefully been catered for. And if the slugs get bad and the big guns need to be bought out. A pair of Indian runner ducks will happily convert slugs to eggs and can share their warmth with the plants in the geodome if they are housed within it. To prepare the site for planting, pigs will be used to remove grass and help the succession from nutrient robbing grasses to nutrient accumulating ground covers. Chickens can later be used under fruit trees to help them to become established keeping down grasses and weeds.
Multi-functional Garden Elements
Rain water runoff from the geodome roof flows into channels around its edges and then into a central container. The channels are filled with woodchip and double as paths that retain moisture slowly releasing it to the surrounding beds. The central container which stores rainwater can be used for watering plants and also acts as a thermal heat store and humidifier.
The geodome can be used as a plant nursery and also to culture heat loving crops such as tomatoes, aubergines and peppers. Trays can be suspended from the beams and used to grow micro greens.
For extra heat in the geodome a pair of Indian runner ducks can be kept in a hutch, passively sharing heat with the geodome. The ducks can be allowed free reign in areas of the garden that will not suffer from trampling. The ducks will eat any slugs or caterpillars.
Sun loving annuals area
This area can be used to grow a variety of crops that need warmth and shelter such as tomatoes, courgettes, herbs; basil and coriander, squashes, beans and cucumber that can trail over the Hugelkultur bed and up and under the trees. In the more shaded edges, fast growing salads can be grown. Plantings in this area are stacked in space and time, using companion planting and guilds to produce a continuous harvest. Plant families are rotated in each bed to stop the build-up of disease. And beds are regularly sewn with green manures or mulched to maintain productivity.
The Hugelkultur bed provides nutrients, moisture and microclimates forming a sun trap and windbreak. The top of the bed is dry and exposed, so is best planted with drought resistant species such as, asparagus, rosemary, thyme, fennel, sage, sea purslane and further down the mound in dug out hollows, sea spinach, sea kale, globe artichokes, Turkish rocket, new Zealand spinach, Welsh wondering onions and strawberries. Fig trees can be grown in containers and embedded into the structure marking the entrance and exits and taking advantage of the sun trap.
Around the outside edges at the base of the Hugelkultur bed perennial tubers can be grown such as occa, yacon and Jerusalem artichoke along with other perennial edibles such as broccoli, kales, Siberian purslane, nettles, mints, parsley and cropping trees and shrubs. Potatoes, carrots and other crops can be grown here also as and when spaces become available.
The structure of the forest element in the garden mimics that of a natural forest, composed of many layers and species grouped together to form beneficial relationships, care is taken to ensure all plantings receive adequate amounts of light; some specimens may need removing as the system moves towards a closed canopy; this system needs an open canopy to be at its most productive. The planting mimics that of natural ecosystems with pioneer species becoming established first, enabling the system to become progressively supportive for a climax community of crop yielding species.
Fruit and nut trees are nursed by nitrogen fixing trees and shrubs which are planted a year before the fruit and nut trees. These nitrogen fixing trees and shrubs; sea buckthorn, Siberian pea tree, and autumn olive can thrive in this maritime sandy environment by fixing nitrogen from the air, which is currently unavailable in the soil. In the second year, when the fruit trees are planted; the N2 fixing trees and shrubs need to be regularly coppiced, providing food for the trees from the decay of their leaves, branches, roots and the nitrogen fixing rhizomes attached to their roots. Eventually the trees will shade out the nursing N2 fixing trees and shrubs and they well die. But until then, they will not only provide food for the fruit and nut trees but also provide a crop of berries, food for pollinators and act as a windbreak.
Fruit and nut trees
The trees listed are known to be tolerant of maritime and harsh conditions, or have been seen growing well in the area. If canker or phytophora affects apples, m11 root stocks can used which grow flat roots avoiding the high water table. However the high water table should not pose too much of a problem as it is over a metre down during the growing season.
Fruit bushes can be grown beneath the fruit and nut trees in an arrangement that suits their growth habit and light requirements, Raspberries can be left to run and move around the garden as they do naturally avoiding the build-up of disease.
These plants accumulate nutrients from the air and deep in the subsoil and can be used to mulch with thus allowing the sharing of these nutrients with other plants and trees; they can also be added to compost as activators, helping to kick start the composting process and accelerate it. Two very important dynamic accumulators are comfrey and nettle.
These plants provide an important source of pollen for bees and insects and include the above as well as borage, clover, legumes and many wildflowers.
Fungus is encouraged in the garden with rotting log piles, woodchip and the Hugelkultur bed, as fungi provide a supportive network for all life. Mycelium fungal stands transport nutrients where needed in the garden and therefore digging is avoided and mulching favoured.
Edible fungus can be grown on inoculated logs in shady damp areas, species that can be cultured include oyster, shitake, and chicken of the woods.
Aquatic plants can be grown for a variety of reasons, primarily to keep the pond clean and healthy, to provide food and habitat for wildlife and beauty for humans. Edible aquatics include; the roots of bull rush, water lotus, arrow root, water cress, water chestnuts and water mints. Pond plants when growing in excess can also be used to mulch the garden. Algae’s are high in protein and can be fed to chickens.
Integrated pest management
The pond, Log piles, brash piles, and rocks provide important habitats for pest predators such as toads, newts, frogs and birds in the garden. Flowers that attract pest predators such as hover flies and wasps include plants in the mint, daisy and umbel family. The greatest defence against pests in the garden is healthy soil which is untilled, preventing slugs from laying their eggs, and allowing pathogenic organisms to be eaten by soil flora that can’t exist in soil which is regularly disturbed. The plants immunity is strengthened through healthy soil, preventing attack from predators such as caterpillars, slugs and snails.
Tool shed and water catchment
The tool shed collects rain water from its roof which is stored in ICB containers; its elevated position allows water to be gravity fed throughout the garden either by hose or drip line. Vines can be grown along the water containers.
The tree nursery
Conveniently situated near the tool shed the tree nursery is used for propagating and bringing on young saplings.
The cob Round house
Yet again a trial of what can be achieved in the wider field; this cob house can be built from round wood timber framing, cob and a turf roof. With a little wood burner it would make an ideal break room for volunteers and workers.
Livestock in the garden
Pigs can initially be used for removing grass within the garden and preparing the soil for planting with nitrogen fixing legumes and wildflowers which form the base for the forest garden. The pigs will add nitrogen to the soil with their dung and the nitrogen fixing legumes will fix nitrogen from the air, this nitrogen can be shared with other plants in the garden when this ground cover is mowed or mulched over. The wildflowers will provide nectar for pollinators.
Once the garden is mature the pigs can be used again under fruit trees to eat rotten, fallen fruit and to clear patches for new plantings. Chickens can be used in a similar way and are less invasive on the soil, only scraping the surface layer. Both animals are great for getting rid of weeds, grass and adding nitrogen.
It is likely to be around 10 years before the forest is fully established and making significant returns, with truffle trees yielding within five years. The speed of the growth of trees and plants is dependent on how fast the windbreaks and supportive n2 fixing species of tree grow. Without the establishment of proper windbreaks and the use of nurse trees for building soil, nutrients and providing additional protection there could be severe damage to fruit trees and maybe some losses. It is therefore advised that they not be planted at least until the second year when the windbreak is at least 2m high. All tree plantings should begin in winter to avoid the need for watering. This includes n2 fixing nurse trees.
The following section includes more detailed descriptions and phases of implementation upto part 1 detailing creating the windbreak, rotational pig paddock for preparing the ground, earthworks to include building ponds and Hugelkultur bed and installing infrastructure; the geodome, tool shed and water catchment.
Part 2 will include planting up the Hugelkultur beds, planting up raised beds for a crop this year which is optional, what to grow in the geodome, techniques with chicken’s and ducks, establishing n2 fixers, marking out and defining edges, establishing the fruit and nut trees, establishing the shrub layer then finally ground cover layers. It will also include details and ideas for the cob round house and course and volunteer ideas for raising revenue and acquiring a good work force.
Gaining a Workforce
Acquiring a good working team will be essential for the implementation of this large project, fortunately there is the convenience of the campsite and its facilities to be able to provide for volunteers who are staying long term. I propose you offer free board and food to volunteers expected to work 6-8 hours per day. These volunteers may be sourced nationally but are often travellers wishing to explore the British Isles and learn about land practices. The best way to access them is through the help ex website and the woofing website. Short term local volunteers could be accessed via facebook and word of mouth. It is also possible to apply for grants to do one off projects with certain community groups classed as vulnerable, whereby the garden serves as a form of therapy; these groups include people in rehabilitation or with learning or emotional difficulties, and also people on community service. Skilled work could be completed through hosting courses using such as hiring Dom from Sircus circus to teach a course on geodome building, or hiring people to teach round wood timber framing and straw bale building to get the round houses complete. The profits from the courses will go into paying for the costs of the project and course.
Dwyran and Newborough schools have offered to be involved in the project, I advise you take full advantage of the children’s unlimited imaginations and allow their involvement to be a two way learning process whereby they influence the project with their ideas and also learn from its creation allowing a strong bond to form between project and child. They will grow with the trees. With over 30 children in Dwyran School alone they will form a formidable work force for planting saplings.
Detailed description of elements and recommended Implementation phases and techniques
To be completed April-November 2015
Further instructions and details on each aspect are available upon request, outlined below is a rough framework with useful links to gain further information
The Willow Windbreak
Map above showing 200m windbreak planted into trench
The willow windbreak will serve as an essential barrier from the strong winds this site experiences. It will also provide an important habitat for wildlife providing ecosystem services within the garden; such as pollinating insects and birds providing pest control.
Around 2,000 willow whips were taken from local trees and planted into a trench measuring 200m long by around 60cm in diameter and depth. The trench stretches around the trial garden site in a undulating manor to help maximise the opportunity for microclimates. The primary purpose of the trench is to maintain humidity and ground moisture for the willows as they become established. It will also serve as a nutrient trap collecting the fallen leaves from the willow, which will feed the willows and eventually build soil within the trench which may help to maintain and distribute moisture around the edges of the garden. The trench may also help to combat the problem of a high water table during winter as water above the level of the trench should drain into it. The willows will also push the water down through the capillary action of their roots.
The whips were planted in mid-April, and therefor are likely to propagate to around a 40% success rate. Some additional planting may be needed in February 2016. In the most favourable conditions the willows can be expected to grow 6ft in one year rapidly forming an effective windbreak.
For future management
The willow windbreak can be coppiced to help promote the growth of side shoots, the cut whips can also be planted in and around the base to help thicken the hedge.
Caution should be taken with planting other trees too close to the windbreak as the roots of willow are fiercely competitive so it is advised to plant at least 4 metres away. Surface rooted plants 1 metre or so at least until nutrients become more widely available.
Getting a crop of salad this year
If compost becomes available, the trench can be lined with around two inches of it and it will make a well insulated habitat for culturing salads and cucurbits. Simply scatter the seeds in and sprinkle them with compost, and plant with the occasional squash or cucumber.
The Rotational Pig Paddock
Map above showing potential options for rotating pigs around the field
Pigs are an effective tool for gaining soil fertility with the use of their droppings and ploughing behaviour. The diagram illustrates a movable pig paddock consisting of an electric fence and moveable pig trailer that is rotated around the garden. The pigs are fed on kitchen scraps and additional organic matter is added to their pen for their entertainment and to help build soil. This can consist of old silage bales, wood chips, straw, old hay. The pigs will eat the grass and open up the earth whilst mixing in the additives. During this phase it is important to sew the area with a mix nitrogen fixing legumes; to include clovers, Lucerne and vetches as well as wildflowers. These seeds can be inoculated with rhizobia prior to their planting to ensure the effectiveness of n2 fixing. Once these plants have established they will provide the supportive base for the forest garden as their roots do not compete for nutrients and space as grass does. When mowed or strimmed they will release n2 into the soil feeding the trees. This done regularly will help to build organic matter in the garden preparing the ground for the other plants. (Nitrogen fixing plants are useful early succession species as they fix their own nitrogen form the air and are thus resilient pioneers on infertile sites like this. Each time they are cut their roots break of in the ground along with their nitrogen fixing root nodules which realises n2 into the soil; this builds soil fertility as well as depth). Please source n2 fixers using the link provided https://www.cotswoldseeds.com/seedmix/legumes-other-straights
This is an example of a pig trailer and solar powered electric fence, this trailer houses seven pigs, with just two it can be much smaller. The roof collects rain water which runs into a tank. When the pigs need to be moved they are fed their grain within the trailer, whilst they are feeding the door is closed and they are transported to the next location to begin their work.
Once the pigs have done the entire rotation of the garden they will be set to work outside the garden to begin preparing the ground for the larger woodland which is to be planted. Once the trees are established the pigs can be used to forage underneath the canopy, fertilising and eating fallen fruit and helping to prevent the spread of pests. The regular movement of the pigs is also beneficial for their health as it prevents the build-up of parasites.
Grants and funding
A variety of grant and funding options are available for woodland and wetland development, these are the first grants to apply for to support the project. There are also sources of funding to look into for projects further along the phases of implementation. Please see links below.
Apply for Grants
- -Contact The Woodland trust with the link provided to enquire about a free tree pack and grants for large tree packs
- -Contact Glastir as in resources to apply for grants. Applications are being taken now for November. http://gov.wales/topics/environmentcountryside/farmingandcountryside/farming/schemes/glastir/glastir-woodland/glastirwoodlandcreation/?lang=en
- Arrange with the truffle partnership scheme to have the land looked at and decide on next steps; possibly apply for funding from forestry commission to buy truffle trees http://www.englishtruffles.co.uk/landowner_information.html
- Apply for wetland grants and subsides http://www.freshwaterhabitats.org.uk/habitats/pond/pond-clinic/funding-pond-project/
- Look into and apply for grants for the football pitch http://sport.wales/funding–support.aspx
- Investigate and apply for grants for sustainable energy sources http://naturalresources.wales/media/3352/funding-update-february-march-2015-english.pdf
The Earth Works
To maximise the growing potential of the garden, the amount of edge needs to be expanded in order to create a multitude of microclimates that can be used to grow a wide variety crops. This will take the various forms
The seasonal pond
The seasonal pond will be used as an experiment for creating large pools further up the field. A hole should be dug to around 4ft in the sand. Some clay can be taken from a borrow pit at the top of the field and thrown in the pond. The pigs should be allowed free reign in this hole until it is sufficiently covered with dung and clay. After a while puddling should happen where by water begins to sit in the hole. It is then ready to rest and allow wildlife to arrive upon its own accord.
Pigs in nature are pond makers, they create wallows and by this action they separate their various particles of soil with the finer particles (clay) coming to rest on the surface and thus creating a natural liner. There dung also acts like a pond liner as once it becomes wet a hydrophophic biofilm of algae develop acting as a pond liner.
The tool shed will be multifunctional, apart from providing a secure store house for tools it will also be used to collect rainwater by a gutterage system installed around its roof. This water can be stored in icb containers which are cheap to pick up second hand from farmers. The tanks will retain heat during sunny periods and will be effective for trellising vines up such as hops or kiwi. The water can be fed to the garden via gravity as the tool shed is located at the highest point and also on a mound of sand left over from the construction of the ponds. This area has also been allocated as the tree nursery as they provide minimal care and need to be somewhere sheltered.
Using the spare sand from around the field and from the seasonal pond, build a mound for the shed to sit on to, allow gravity feed from the water containers.
The Pond and berm
The pond should be made with a butane liner and to a depth no less than 4ft to allow for breeding dragon flies. Edible plants that can be grown include water chestnut, arrow root, mare’s tails, lotus and water mints. This pond has very gradually slopping edges and sunken bog areas to allow for a wide variety of wild flora and fauna to establish. The pond itself should be surrounded with and contain rotten logs and stones to allow habitats for wildlife.
The mound behind the pond is constructed from the earth displaced from it and services as a catchment zone for rainwater can feed the pond. It will also reflect the suns rays back onto the pond and thus creating a sun trap for heat loving trees and plants such as almond trees, grapes and kiwis. The shadowed area behind the berm would also make a good habitat for mushroom cultivation.
Ponds are useful in all gardens as they provide a nursery for some of nature best pest predators such as dragon flies, frogs, toads and newts. To attract wildlife it’s essential to create good habitats to include a bog area.
Another option is to construct the pond as a natural swimming pool…
Above diagram of the structure and planting of a wildlife pond
The Hugelkultur Bed
It is advisable not plant the Hugelkultur bed until the windbreak is established, however the inside of the bed may be sheltered enough but care should be taken to plant species that will not suffer the wind as recommended below. The Hugelkultur bed will not become truly productive until the windbreak is established.
This bed consists of a trench dug to about 2ft deep and 1.5 metres wide. The top soil is set aside in a separate pile during construction. Then the trench is filled with logs, woodchips, brash and manure and any other organic matter that can be acquired. The earth is then mounded back on top with the top soil forming the last layer. Then if humic matter is available the mound is covered with that or if not it can be sewn with n2 fixing legumes which can be used as a green manure.
The mound should be around 2 metres wide by 1 metre high and bigger if the resources are available. The mound will rot down slowly over 20 years, and will help to start the formation of mycelium within the garden (fungal strands that connect the plants and trees transporting nutrients where required) The system will act as slow release fertiliser within the garden and especially in its immediate vicinity which contains the kitchen garden an area that will require the most nutrients. It will also act as water catchment with the water collecting at its base where the annual crops and trees are situated.
The bed should also act as an effective sun trap with its walls insulating from wind and reflecting sunlight and warmth back into the annual garden and geodome.
Hugelkultur is also particularly suited to this sandy environment as the organic matter within retains moisture, its elevation also means that plants grown on it will be safe from the seasonal high water table.
Please read the full document on Hugelkultur at http://www.permaculture.co.uk/articles/many-benefits-hugelkultur
Image above detailing the geodome with surrounding beds.
Trenches/paths with central reservoir for roof run off
Examples of geodomes
Images Curtesy of northernhomestead.com
This structure can be used as a plant nursery, for winter crops and also for growing heat loving plants such as aubergines and peppers. It can be constructed relatively cheaply and easily using sections of plastic pipe and clear plastic. The structure is both aesthetically pleasing and durable and should be resistant to strong winds providing the plastic is taught by using pieces wedged between each triangle and stretched taught with a heat gun it will last for very long time. However it is advisable that this structure only be installed once the windbreak has become established. The geodome could be vulnerable to the strong winds the site experiences, however if the Hugelkultur bed is built to be tall then it could provide some significant protection. Wood should be used over pvc piping for its construction to allow a surface for the plastic cover to be stapled to.
Please see for details on how to construct a geodome http://northernhomestead.com/how-to-build-a-geodome-greenhouse/
The dome doubles as a water catchment system as the rainwater run off collects around the bottom it is channelled into a ditch which leads to a container in the centre of the dome. It can then be used for watering but also regulates the temperature of the dome by acting as heat store. The drainage ditches can be filled with woodchip to double as paths which also retain moisture distributing it to the plants around them. When the woodchip is decomposed it can be used on the beds.
I recommend keeping Indian runner ducks in a hutch inside the dome and allow them free run of the garden so long as they do not trample seedlings. They are the most effective slug hunters I have encountered and they will not eat the crops like other fowl do although there is always a rule to the exception. They will also benefit plants in the dome through the body heat and the co2 they release.
Please also see James and Dom from Sircus Circus for Materials and help.
PART 2 PENDING
REFERENCES AND RESOURCES
- Grants for trees http://gov.wales/topics/environmentcountryside/farmingandcountryside/farming/schemes/glastir/glastir-woodland/glastirwoodlandcreation/?lang=en
- Grants for trees https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/get-involved/plant-trees/help-and-support/
- The best forest gardening book http://www.amazon.co.uk/Creating-Forest-Garden-Working-nature/dp/1900322625/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1431434333&sr=8-1&keywords=martin+crawford+forest+gardening
- Truffle trees http://www.englishtruffles.co.uk/landowner_information.html
- Grants for wetlands http://www.freshwaterhabitats.org.uk/habitats/pond/pond-clinic/funding-pond-project/
- Grants for Football pitch http://sport.wales/funding–support.aspx
- Grants for forest creation http://www.naturesave.co.uk/the-naturesave-trust/
- Sustainable energy http://naturalresources.wales/media/3352/funding-update-february-march-2015-english.pdf
- Forest gardening courses http://www.agroforestry.co.uk/courses.html
- Holistic graze land management information http://holisticmanagement.org/free-downloads/
- Volunteers http://wwoofinternational.org/ https://www.helpx.net/
- Geodome http://northernhomestead.com/how-to-build-a-geodome-greenhouse/
- For quality seeds http://www.realseeds.co.uk/
- Info on n2 fixing https://www.cotswoldseeds.com/seed-info/legume-root-nodules
- Wildflowers https://www.pitchcare.com/shop/acid-soils-wildflower-seeds/dry-sandy-loam-soil-100-wildflower-seeds.html
- Green manures https://www.cotswoldseeds.com/files/cotswoldseeds/Cotswold_Green_Manures_final.pdf
- N2 fixing legumes https://www.cotswoldseeds.com/seedmix/legumes-other-straights