Helen Butt

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since Aug 15, 2016
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forest garden books food preservation
I’ve been converting my garden to a forest garden since 2010. It’s been slow progress due to 1) time, 2) money and 3) not wanting to be a consumer and add to the greenhouse gas burden (as far as I can).
I am self-sufficient in a number of crops, which sometimes requires self-discipline (e.g.. not buying out of season apples because I fancy one). I’m also increasingly making use of ‘weeds’ that find their way into the garden and am learning about and practising foraging to supplement my diet.
Leeds, United Kingdom
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Recent posts by Helen Butt

Very interesting thread!

My local organic farmer has just alerted me to the issue of vermicide in horse manure, so I came searching for more information. It’s too late for my garden now, after piling manure on it for the last 10 months but one thing I have noticed is that the composter does not seem to have the number of red worms that it used to before I started adding fresh manure to it.

The manure heats up the compost bin wonderfully - the food and garden waste additions break down rapidly, even in cool weather. So, from the point of view of compost production, it still seems worth putting manure in. However, this year the rhubarb and beans were much less productive than usual after mulching them with fresh manure.

Of course, without doing a controlled experiment it is hard to say that the manure is the (primary) culprit. But since the aforementioned farmer has offered me her organic cow/sheep/pig manure, I think it prudent to make the switch.
3 days ago
That sounds absolutely great - glad to hear your kids are enthusiastic growers/harvesters :-)
It’s sweet what you’ve done for your kids, Nicole.
I got some pieces of slate on which I intend to paint the names of my trees. The idea came from a friend who has a large forest garden and would find it impossible to keep track of varieties but even though I’ve only got a few trees, I still forget some of the names.
2 months ago

Catherine Carney wrote:Thanks Helen. I haven't used the wastewater from my fleece washing on tomatoes, but have usually poured it either around fruit trees or onto fallow portions of the pasture. I'd never really thought about the nitrogen content of the water--my concern was potential contamination with bacteria (E. coli) and soap/detergent on my vegetable crops.

Now, I hadn’t considered E. coli. Fortunately, we survived 😊

Jocelyn Campbell wrote:The Inhabit film, which is really inspiring about permaculture designs, is now available for free streaming due to the crisis.


Thanks very much - I missed the opportunity to watch this film when it was free before.
7 months ago
What I learned last year:

Don’t water tomato plants with water which a sheep’s fleece* has been washed in. The fleece seems to add large amounts of nitrogen which then causes blossom end rot.

* The fleeces were shorn and being washed to spin.

Carol Denton wrote:What I learned:

3. That hugel beds work and I need more of them.

4. And most of all, doing my part to change the world in my own backyard matters. It doesn't seem like such an insignificant drop in the bucket anymore.

Yes, I feel the same re #4.

How long have you have your hugel beds? I don’t know if mine have been a success, although after this winter or rain which turned my dry region into a soggy one, perhaps this year things will be different.
Good luck, Amanda. Sounds like you have got a lot on your plate!
10 months ago

William Bronson wrote:
I used to find my self landing on a certain racial supremacy website because of my googling of back to the land type subjects...
Yet another reason to appreciate Permies.

Oh dear! Thank goodness for permies indeed.
10 months ago