But we have been learning a lot from our experiences this year and are realizing that to grow overwinter and make the best use of the tunnel, it is down to us to do our research properly and get a plan sorted out, long before the winter season arrives. Winter is notoriously a lean period and we will need to find out which plants afford the best resilience to frosts and which plants will not only survive but thrive in our cold Cornish winds.
It was actual fortunate GD and I had harvested the last of our veg from the tunnel before we went away as while we were away the winds that hit Cornwall tore the cover right off the frame, my son and daughter in law went to check on the tunnel and were fortunately able to retrieve the cover and secure it until we returned. The tears were clean and we have managed to tape the damage, at the same time we also buried the skirts a foot deep in the hope the winds wont be able to lift the cover off during the next gale.
The plan is that by next summer GD and I will have a gained enough know how about what will or won’t grow well down here and be growing lots of foods that will feed us, put food in the store cupboard and the freezer, enough for us, our family meals and celebrations, all this during the winter months when normally we would be sitting in front of the fire dreaming about spring. This is our goal.
There is a new excitement I feel thinking about how to achieve continuous seasonal supply and in my research have come across some excellent tips on how to kit the poly tunnel out better to achieve a climate the plants will like.
As we transition from the abundance of the warmer months to the first frosts of autumn I look at the allotment on the eve of Samhain, I see the moist dark earth freshly laid with rich compost, I see brussell plants and kales and cabbages, greens, deep purples, curly, flat leaves, parsnips, rose hips, carrots, leeks, spring onion, apples and rhubarb.
This is the time of year when traditionally chickens will stop laying as the light reduces, the cows reduce their milk flow as the grass stops growing and nature turns inwards, fresh home grown food traditionally becomes scarce at this point in the year, yet with cultivation we can produce food respectfully of mother earth, not by introducing chemicals but by nurturing the earth organically, by introducing a permaculture ethos.
Our earth is a living organism, we need to be looking for ways to live in harmony with her, not just stripping her of her assets, she gives freely, we must learn not to be greedy with her gifts and learn how to give back, this understanding is what permaculture is all about. Our lives are so much more than just our selves, we are part of a web and our smallest actions send vibrations that resound and have effect on every part, now, and in the future.
“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together … all things connect.” —Chief Seattle
I am interested in using layering techniques in the poly tunnel, apparently it is possible to grow lettuce and such delights such as pak choi right through he cold months.
Beds need to be hooped and covered, just like we do in the spring outside, then over that another cover of loose fleece is laid, offering another protective layer.
I also came across a tip that really piqued my interest and that is to lay stones to edge the beds, this is because if there is any warmth from sunlight the heat warms the stones and the stones diffuse the heat down into the soil, brilliant!.
Again and again right plants and planning seem to be the emphases on most sites.
GD and I celebrate Samhain tomorrow, we share food with family, using pickles, sauces and chutneys we’ve made from summer abundance, we remember and pay respect and have gratitude for all our blessings, we remember where we have come from and those that have shaped and shared our journey and those that have left us but will forever remain in our hearts.
For us Samhain brings a clear marking of the end of summer and the beginning of winter. I am amazed at how much I see when I just stop all my doing and breath, become present to the moment. It is with awe I stand and with wonder I feel abundance of life around me, all appears magical.
“It seems to me that the natural world is the greatest source of excitement; the greatest source of visual beauty; the greatest source of intellectual interest. It is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living.” —David Attenborough
Each new year I look for a word that holds meaning for me, this new year as we approach 2019 it is the word ‘sustainability.’ Change in how we live on this earth has to happen, we can’t put off responsibility for the detrimental effect humankind, our actions, have upon the earths well being any more, always thinking that tomorrow someone will rescue us from the pollution and damage we are causing today.
“A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children.” —John James Audubon
“Sustainable development is a way for people to use resources without the resources running out . The term used by the Brundtland Commission defined it as development with sustainability that “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
It would be so great to know what things you are doing to help our earth, are you recycling, growing your own food, has anything inspired you, have you ideas you would like to share?.