One of the problems with buying land that is affordable, is that it is quite likely to be what is known as ‘unimproved’ land, or that it has been improved, but really not a great deal. Most of ours falls into this second category, and so it was with a certain amount of trepidation that we invited the Edible Crops Advisor from DARD to come and give us her sage advice about what we might do here.
Waiting for her arrival was rather like the folks on Wartime Farm waiting for the War Ag man to come.
Given the small scale of our venture, and our relatively small needs, I had a feeling that this mightn’t be something that would suit us, but thought it good to get a fresh opinion.  Her arrival in semi darkness, with the rain coming on set the tone somewhat. I’d mentioned that we wanted to take a permaculture approach, which I’m not sure went down too well ‘Can you think of a reason why forest gardening wouldn’t do well here?’; and how were we going to plough it over. And get a proper polytunnel. And put in drainage.
Something that we did learn from the visit is that a good few people have attempted to make a living growing organic veg here in Northern Ireland, using ‘modern’ farming methods, and that very few have succeeded. I wonder whether that says more about the approach than the market place.
Only time will tell as we do our thing with scant regard for the advice of the organic professional, and turn instead to the world of permaculture for advice and inspiration.
This week’s project is to create a path that links the garden area to the polytunnel, so that we have some dry land to cross on our way. Our little field is blessed with nice, well drained peaty soil, currently concealed beneath what would seem to be 3 inches of mud and water. The idea is that our raised beds will improve drainage, and allow us to channel the excess water somewhere more useful, whilst our new tree planting will soak up even more.