So when I first found Permies I had big dreams of buying cheap land back home in Canada and trying to rough out a little permaculture paradise for myself there. Maybe that will still happen in the long term, but for now I'm blooming where I'm planted. I've been lurking here for over a year but I'm excited to be more a part of things now.
I've just moved to a house in a small town in the west of Ireland, and while it's just a rented place and the land is extremely
limited, I want to see what I can do here. Unlike my other rentals in the past, I have no housemates (just my partner and a German Shepherd) and the landlady says I can pretty much do whatever I like with the place. It's a two year lease, though I could see us staying longer. I don't mind putting work into it, even if we leave...I like to think we'd be leaving the neglected place better than we found it, and we can enjoy it as it develops in the short term.
We're right across the road from a beautiful lake, and I've seen lots of plant and bug diversity over there already, which is lovely. I'm keeping my eye open for things I might want to gather seeds or cuttings from in the future.
Ideally I'd spend a year observing it, but frankly there is not much here. Because it's a short term projects, Ill be focusing more on quick, beneficial improvements, as edible as possible, though I need to keep things relatively ornamental in the front, at least. I don't mind that as I am a beauty-hound and former florist. I'm planting for bees and diversity as much as to put food in my belly. There won't be much in the way of infrastructure, I don't think, though I might look at some simple rainwater harvesting in the future for the veg. Money is terribly tight, and we dont have a car, so picking up freebies is very challenging. That said, I'm just going to do my best with what I have when I have it.
The front garden is teensy (I'll come back with actual measurements when my guy is home to hold the other end of the tape) and I need to leave some lawn, but I am planning to create deep borders on the front and right side of the yard, about a meter and a half wide. Maybe more if I have the courage and materials. I'll also put a shallow border along the walkway, from the depression left there and some intel from the neighbours, there was one there once.
The naff planters and the gnome are there to stay, but I'm going to try to make them less hideous.
Right now we have two sickly tea roses, a sprawling rambler which will be severely cut back in a month or so, a little fuscia bush and two overgrown cedary shrubs. There's some pretty volunteer bupleurum growing in and around one of the weird concrete swans (not visible in this photo), and the pedestal planters have some heather and two other unidentified little shrubby things that I'll ID later. I'm probably going to empty them out/paint them/refill them with new soil, but my strategy is to save whatever plants are already here, even if they aren't the most useful. Diversity and economy!
The back is all paved over. Pretty small but not too bad, laid out in an L shape. The concrete is well drained in two spots, there is an outdoor water source, and what little sun we get in this wet gloomy corner of the world is trapped here most of the day. And I think the reflected heat from all the concrete makes it a bit of a micro-climate. I've only been here a few days so more observation is needed, and I need to figure out exactly what direction everything faces.
Above the back wall is a plot with gravel over landscaping cloth, planted with one big cedar-like shrub, but I can put pots and stuff up there. I'm going to be doing a lot of pot gardening for greens etc. Though sourcing upcycled pots and containers may be slow as I can't afford to buy a whack all at once. I want to build square-foot-garden type raised beds with trellises against the long sunny wall where the table and chairs are for growing beans and squash. The main challenge here is money and materials. There's a renovation across the street and I'm keeping my eyes peeled for builders so I can ask them if I can have the pallets and old scrap lumber that's piling up there. Fingers crossed.
We're mid "summer" here so it's a good time to observe as it's really past any kind of planting time unless I had pots prepared for summer salads etc. and I do not. I'm hoping to keep those three pots in the garden but they belong to the previous tenant and I don't know if she's coming back for them.
My first goal is to get some kind of composting going--probably worms. We have municipal composting but it kills me to see the stuff going off-site. Just need the money for bins and worms...we stupidly bought clear plastic boxes for moving because they were cheaper or I'd use those, but I know worms hate light. If I kept them in the dark shed, do you think they'd be okay? If not,, I'll plant stuff in them, as they are nice and deep. Plastic isn't ideal, but it's what there is. I'm burying banana peels and teabags in the front already. I'd like a proper big compost bin too, but I don't know if I can sacrifice the real estate in the back yard.
Near second goal is to lasgna-garden out the front borders ASAP. I need to scrounge some money for manure and mulch. I have lots of carboard from moving, thankfully! I'd like to get it rotting so that it's ready in the spring. And I want to put down some garlic and chard/kale in them for over the winter. If I can stretch the budget I'd also like to establish some rhubarb and fruiting anchor plants in this area--preferably fruit for me, but if it's just for the birds that's okay too. Maybe a butterfly bush or something along those lines for the polinators. I know autumn is a good time to get trees and shrubs in the ground, so I'd love to start planning for that now.
Not particularly permaculture or a priority but I'd also like to get loads of little bulbs in for some spring colour next year...February is a dark month here and they are such a boon to my mental health. Plus I justify it as biodiversity in the lawn. I'm looking at some native and rare/heritage varieties, though they aren't cheap.
We have two solid-fuel stoves to heat the house this winter, so I'd like to find some good ways to use the ash...need to research that. We can burn coal, turf, or wood. Though we'll have to chop the wood up pretty small to get it in the tiny stoves.
I very much welcome advice and ideas, and would love to meet other permies in this part of the world, especially those doing more with a little scrap of land! What would you do with a little place like this if you were stone broke from moving etc? What would you plant? How would you prepare for next season over the autumn and winter months? I'll be updating here as I go. Thanks for reading!