it would appear to be very autumnal out there…all of a sudden halloween is around the corner and whoosh – there went the summer…

looking back at this forest garden project, and where i left it last time, It’s pretty amazing how its changed and what can be achieved in just a few short months.  we’ve come on in leaps and bounds since i last wrote in february.  if you remember, the pigs had eaten the grass and churned up the soil and we were back to bare earth and a blank canvas. we had sowed some dynamic accumulator / nitrogen fixing plants through out the space, and i had planted some hedging around the whole perimeter, which could only really be described as 250 twigs with roots and potential….  throughout the summer we have been in the garden chipping away at it and slowly but surely putting a shape on all of the structures.   its a pretty dramatic transformation when i look back on the snaps in february….

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i think this post is going to contain a lot of pictures as that’s the simplest way to show what we have been doing.  our first labour intensive job was to get all the pathways laid and have designated areas to walk on and wheelbarrow over.   we need to try stick to them as much as possible so as not to compact the soil everywhere and damage it.   mary had come to mark out the placing of the huglekultures and paths and wishing spaces – then the labour team (me and joe) had to get on with building these structures and digging them out and filling them up with wood, stone, mulch and things various….joes been more on muscle duty and I’ve attempted creative..

paths was job one. marking them out a metre wide…digging them out down 10cms…putting a permeable membrane down then some hard stone on top with a mixture of that fine dust stuff ‘8mil down’ which makes it nice and hard and compact after a while…we had 3 paths that joined the huggler and the wishing space, so it took a while…

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5_huggleralongside the paths being marked out and laid down we gathered a tonne or three of untreated hard wood logs and bark mulch to start building our hugglekulture structure.  this is basically a pile of wood, bark and mulch with soil on top.   this will have to settle for a year or so before it is ready for planting.   we also have to dig big swales for water collection in the right places that will irrigate them – the idea being when they’re up and running, the logs will effectively soak up and retain water and eek this out to the plants that are grown on top, vastly reducing the need for constant watering. the logs will also feed their nutritious content into the soil, slowly but surely, which in turn will feed the crops that we are growing on it.  finding the right places and digging out the swales (or holes!) is the next big labour intensive job… joe has that to look forward to this autumn/winter.

we also had to make a scarecrow to keep the birds from nicking all the dynamic accumulator seeds that we sowed across the whole site.  strings of old CDs helped with that job too..joe dug in two biggish pipes for drainage under the base of our big huggler before we marked it out proper and started with the wood pile…the dogs of course, needed to inspect our work as we were going along.  there were many rodenty smells I’m sure within this big pile of wood, far too many for the average jack russell to resist….

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piling up the wood all around the designated circle design…then putting bark mulch on top of it to fill in the gaps.

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after we got to this stage i cut down a load of willow whips (i have a few structures in the garden and anyone that has willow will know that they grow like wild fire and you’re never short of any whips for making little barriers out of).  as we are trying to do this with as little cost as possible, this seemed like a good option to retain the wall inside the huggler.   i wove the willow around the uprights that we had banged into the ground to mark out the circle,  then nailed a bit of wood cut to lengths around the top to finish it off.  it works for us anyways…in the middle of the space we put down some big hardcore stones and then some pea gravel.  this central space will become our outdoors seating area with a fire pit in the middle.

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20_terrierthe idea is that we will be growing all our annual veg and salad crops on these huggle structures.  this week we just finished putting the soil on top of the big huggler (we also made two mini ones too).  we have mixed in some nitrogen fixing seeds into the soil from (landsberger mix) so that they should germinate now and there will be some dynamic accumulators growing on the structure which will ready the soil for next year for planting crops.…could even be the year after that, but we needed to get some seeds on it before the grass takes over.  i couldn’t resist throwing a handful of wild flower seeds into my nitrogen fixer dynamic accumulators too. they wont hurt and ill like the look of them.  we’ve then covered this structure with straw to give it a fighting chance against the robbing birds and opportunistic weeds…we had help from the dogs of course. they like to come out and stick their snouts into most things..

this is me and mary both tackling our tonne of top soil each..we shifted a lot of dirt that day…..  I’m getting the hang of this bare exposed soil = not a good idea.  makes sense.. i also had some snout-like help when i was putting in some stepping blocks and flat stones so that we could actually get in and out of the space!
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the first thing that i grew was a cauli…oh no…sorry, thats a collie..