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Hi Everyone,

I've finally started to bite the bullet, but I think it's going to be a long time to chew. I've just graduated from university in the UK and have been watching these forums for years, finally I've decided this is it, this is what I want my life to be.

Growing up I always enjoyed gardening, fishing, building, caring for animals. I'm also very fond of a bargain wherever it can be had. As I worked hard, I always came top of my classes, and fell for the classic modern rhetoric that I was too smart not to pursue more academic pursuits. How wrong that was. I now understand that what you choose to do, what you enjoy, had nothing to do with your intelligence.

So now here I am, a 23 year old in a city job trying desperately to move and carve out the kind of life everyone here is pursuing - sustainable, back to nature, and focused on the important things, like family. I have a little money saved and am trying to increase that as rapidly as I can (currently renting). I'm also trying to build any skills I can that would help in the future - I'm quite good at fishing, though the potential for feeding yourself cheaply by this route in the UK is someone limited unless you live somewhere coastal. I'm forever improving my gardening ability, I have a few seasons under my belt growing larger numbers of crops on a small scale and I grew up on a building site so my DIY is quite good. I know there's always room for improvement, so if anyone can offer advice on where to focus my efforts while awaiting a move o somewhere with more land I'd be glad to hear it.

I'm also wondering if anyone could offer advice on finding a property? I think I would gladly move to most areas of mainland UK, which makes the house search somewhat problematic - I'm becoming increasingly annoyed that you can't order on Rightmove by the size of the land! I'm really looking forward to learning from all of you and plan to start completing some of these badge-bits I see so much about. I also fully intend to return the favor and offer help wherever I can, although at this point those skills might be limited (I have a chemistry masters if anyone needs any of those kinds of skills though)

Thanks again everyone!

Mark
 
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Hi Mark, welcome to Permies!

You remind me of myself from many years ago.  Good job on recognizing your life’s passion at such a young age.

Regarding your quest for land, I am afraid that I can only be of limited service.  I have only academic knowledge of UK geography and no knowledge of UK real estate.  I wish I could be of more help there but I can’t.  But there certainly may be others here on Permies who might have quite expansive knowledge about UK real estate so please don’t get discouraged by my personal lack of knowledge (I really only know real estate for the US Midwest and from my perspective, coastal and especially large urban/suburban real estate prices seem astoundingly high—but that’s me).

On a slightly different topic, I see that you want to eventually grow all your own food—wonderful!!  Something I have learned recently is that even a small patch of land can be made extremely fertile and offer up very heavy yields.  My trick:  I don’t focus on soil chemistry, I focus on soil biology.  I try to get as many microbes working in the soil as possible and they take care of the chemistry.

I am rambling Mark, but I want to welcome you again to Permies and I look forward to seeing you achieve your Permie goals!

Eric
 
Mark Holter
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Hi Eric,

Thanks for taking the time to reply and for the welcome! No worries on the land side of things, hardly seems reasonable for me to expect someone across the pond to have a better knowledge of my domestic real estate than myself . I fully agree with you on the price of real estate, which is why my search area is so broad, I think I'd be happy to find land wherever it could be had in the long run. That being said I would have to be within commuting distance to somewhere more urban as my other half is a healthcare worker and would struggle to work out in the sticks. Having said that I think the US has far more rural spots than we do in the UK so perhaps not so much of a concern.

With regards to growing food in small spaces, I do echo your sentiment. I have windowsills lined with herbs, a few chilli plants and some seedlings ready to go out in pots onto my 10'x10' patio as the weather warms up (vertical gardening here for efficiency). I've also got my compost bin on the go, but this has to be quite small scale due to the nature of renting and the fact we might have to move at short notice.

Mark
 
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Welcome to Permies, Mark! So glad you decided to participate.

Mark Holter wrote:As I worked hard, I always came top of my classes, and fell for the classic modern rhetoric that I was too smart not to pursue more academic pursuits. How wrong that was. I now understand that what you choose to do, what you enjoy, had nothing to do with your intelligence.


There is so much wisdom in that! Good for you for realizing it and for having the courage to act on it.

I'm also wondering if anyone could offer advice on finding a property? I think I would gladly move to most areas of mainland UK, which makes the house search somewhat problematic...


I'm guessing some of our UK members can help answer that.

I'm really looking forward to learning from all of you and plan to start completing some of these badge-bits I see so much about.


Yes, the PEP badges are a fun and inspiring way to learn permaculture skills. They are part of what makes Permies uniquely special.

I also fully intend to return the favor and offer help wherever I can, although at this point those skills might be limited (I have a chemistry masters if anyone needs any of those kinds of skills though)


That's good to hear. Welcome aboard!
 
Eric Hanson
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Mark,

So we may have more in common than I initially thought as my wife also is in healthcare (she is a doctor) and our search for land was partially dictated by how far she would have to travel to work.  In our case we lucked out, meaning I lucked out in particular.  She has about a 20 minute drive, while mine is about 5 minutes on a good day!  Yet our property looks very rural and isolated.  I have no idea if this is something you can achieve, but one factor that worked for us is that we are not in a metropolitan area.  We live in a fairly small town (25k-30k) but they still need doctors and the surrounding area is overwhelmingly rural.  Is this something that could possibly work for you?  I can’t say, but I just offer that as a thought.

You are also probably right about the US having more rural land, largely owing to the size of the US vs the UK (just talking acreage here, nothing else!).  Although this can vary tremendously depending on where one lives in the US.

But on the gardening side, I love the sound of your progress already.  With just a patio to work with, growing vertically is a great way to increase yields on a small plot.  Hopefully you can eventually enlarge your plot and still utilize the space-saving technique and really get great yields.

One last question that is an obsession of mine:  have you tried or considered growing mushrooms?  They are amazing for fertility.

Great starts you have,

Eric
 
Mark Holter
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Leigh, thanks for the welcome!

And Eric, that sounds like exactly the sort of ideal situation I'd be looking to set up - these places do exist but finding them is the gem. It sounds quite similar to where I grew up, right on the edge of a conurbation.

I often think the US has such varied landscapes and climates, when watching and reading about gardening from American creators and some of them are gardening in sub-tropics and others in Alaska! It's really interesting that you raised mushroom growing! I brewed some beer at the weekend and spent some time trying to work out whether I could use the spent grain for growing mushrooms. The consensus seemed to be that it was too sweet and would be subject to colonization by other microbes, but I might still give it a go. It's definitely something I want to do, but I've only recently started to like mushrooms, which explains why its late in the to-do list.
 
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Hi Mark,
Good luck with your life journey!  There is so much fun to be had.  My first degree was in chemistry and I've not used it since: worked c. 20 years as an engineer in the automotive industry before buying a shop on Skye.
Have you considered Wales?  If you are serious about an alternative lifestyle there could be real opportunities there, without a really huge capital start.  See reason to be cheerful for some information.  The main point is you need to be comitted to a one planet lifestyle so your partner's commute would have to be considered.
My suggestion would be to have a go growing wherever you are.  If you don't have space yourself, then there are usually gardens that need help so consider volunteering.  I helped at Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens (an 18th Century walled garden) which was on my way home from Jaguar for a while, also a bit of time at Garden Organic at Ryton.  Although not paid positions as well as the experience you gain there are usually benefits in kind, whether that is spare produce, seeds or plants, as well as the knowledge you can get.
If you like study then you may like the RHS general certificate courses, which give a bit of grounding in the science of plants and soil, albeit mainly from a conventional view, and have a look at the SKIP project on permies, that may also be just the thing for you.
 
Eric Hanson
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Mark,

If you are really interested in the mushrooms, I would suggest two different varieties:  Wine Caps or Blue Oysters.  They are both so aggressive that they will outcompete anything else that started there ahead of them.  Just don’t mix the two or they will arm wrestle each other to death.  I like to grow Wine Caps because they are such an easy mushroom with which to get started.  Also, while I do like the actual mushrooms, I really grow the fungi in order to break down wood chips and add fertility.  If you are still interested I can post a couple links to some long-running threads I have.

Also, regarding the variety of climates in the United States, you are absolutely correct.  I presently live in the southern Midwest which I suspect is similar to a warmer version of where you live.  But we have people on Permies here who garden at altitude in the mountains and have year-round snow and others who garden in deserts—and pretty much every climate in between.

Good talking to you today and getting to know you a bit.

Eric
 
Mark Holter
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Hi Nancy,

Thanks for the welcome. I've been looking at Wales a lot, it's more rural, land prices are lower and you're not often too far from the sea. In all honesty I think the One Planet Development might be a bit too much of a shock to the system given that I grew up as a townie and I think I'd struggle to convince my partner, but who knows in the long run. Definitely plan to follow your advice on finding some local places to volunteer gardening. I did have a go earlier this year but it may be something to look at when Boris says we can meet people again.

Eric - really interesting advice on the mushrooms, if you could point me in the direction of those threads I'd be grateful. Do you find you can use most wood chips? I know a tree surgeon I could probably pilfer some from but I don't think he'd be too impressed if I started getting overly picky about species.
 
Eric Hanson
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Hi Mark, try these links:

https://permies.com/t/82798/composting-wood-chips-chicken-litter

https://permies.com/t/130092/mushroom-newbie

The first link is to a long running thread that details my mushroom journey from a complete novice to having at least some skill in it today.  I won't say I am an expert by any means, but I have grown quite a few Wine Caps.  The second link takes you to a thread where I gave someone a step-by-step process for putting together a mushroom bed.

If we are talking about Wine Caps or Blue Oysters, pretty much any hardwood will do.  And don't get put off by the term "hardwood."  In this case, "hardwood" means any non-conifer.  There is something about pine sap that inhibits the fungal growth.  If you accidentally do get conifer wood, my suggestion is to let it thoroughly dry so that the sap dries up.  This may improve things.  Personally I mostly use Autumn Olive (very similar to Russian Olive) which is a weed tree around here, introduced in the 1930s for use in shelter belts.  It is one of the softest hardwoods that I know about, but the Wine Caps love it.  I have to trim back my fence rows every couple of years and then chip the trimmings.

I hope this all help out.

Eric
 
Mark Holter
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Thanks for these Eric, really looking forward to this project.
 
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