Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Vegan Horticultural Inspiration

We've just returned home after four weeks away to discover a jungle.  It's that time of year when not only everything puts on a wonderful green surge but that you also realise you should have really put more thought into what you're going to grow this year, let alone have already got on with it.  We're not into 'trim and proper' gardening but even our grass had gone a bit too 'punk rock' upon our return.  We'd done a bit of thinking whilst away, inspired by the wonderful produce in Portugal and the well maintained plots that almost every household seems to have as standard.  We were also inspired by the wine we drunk whilst thinking and discussing garden plans, which is why perhaps upon returning, the reality of the 'jungle' we faced didn't quite match the hazy images of those sun soaked evenings.

Luckily our first weekend home was a sunny one and with shorts and t-shirts on we set to it. Our plan was 'organic', literally; meaning as we cleared we planned.  We still had some produce in the garden to use and work around; Kale de Nero, spring onions, chard, leeks, beetroot and rocket.  We still had seed (saved seed from last years crop, bought seed from last years stock and some newly acquired seed, some of which we got in Portugal).  Then there is crop rotation to think about, and also more cunning ways to outwit little hungry beasties from devouring our veggies, as well as deterring the neighbourhood cats from shitting in our beds.  Oh and not forgetting the wonderful complexities of sharing your garden with badgers. There really is a lot to think about and do.

As vegans and people who care about the environment and our health, growing our own produce and providing and protecting a naturally supportive environment is really a hugely positive step.  However, beyond not using chemical or animal derived fertilisers, composts or so called 'pest controls' and employing a bit of companion planting, I can't help but feel that I'm a bit in the dark, have a lot to learn, and even whether I'm doing everything to the best of my vegan ability.

For anyone with similar thoughts you'll be pleased to know that help is at hand.  Whether you live in Cornwall and Devon or fancy a trip to our beautiful 'neck of the vegan woods', The Naturally Vegan Plot is offering the opportunity to get involved and learn either by volunteering or joining one of their up and coming courses.  We wrote about them a little earlier in the year, but our sudden 'garden panic' has once more highlighted my worries about getting it right.  Sure, we will probably muddle through with successes, a few failures and the usual surrender to the slug, snail and cabbage white invasion, but given a bit more connection and time we could probably achieve so much more; even in our small space.  If you feel the same have a look at what The Naturally Vegan Plot are up to at the moment. For example on 17th May there is an organised field trip to Agroforestry Research Trust Forest Garden in Dartington, Devon.  The cost is £10 and includes entry and transport in a shared vehicle.  For further details check out the link above.

Then in June, for an experience that is bound to be far from 'bog standard', a two day Compost Toilet course is available for a very reasonable £80, especially as it includes vegan food and accommodation!  

The end of July sees Part 1 of an Introduction to Woodland/Forest Gardening.  This two day course covers the theoretical side of things and is led by Graham Burnett, world renowned vegan permaculture design teacher of Spiralseed and author of 'Permaculture - A Beginners Guide' and 'The Vegan Book of Permaculture'.  

The practical follow up and Part 2 of this course runs on 10th and 11th September, again led by Graham.  Both of these courses are £95 each, and also includes vegan food and accommodation. 

For food and accommodation alone for two days in the beautiful Cornish countryside that sounds like a bargain, even without the learning potential from this well respected expert in the field!  You can book both parts of the course for a discounted price of £175 if you book before 28th May.
Design Process Guide by Aranya
Also starting in September, The Naturally Vegan Plot is offering a Basic Level On-Site Permaculture Design Training opportunity in the form of a five day Introduction to Permaculture. This is led by Aranya, again a world renowned vegan permaculture design teacher and also author of 'Permaculture Design - A Step By Step Guide'. £300 is the price for this one, including vegan food and accommodation and a discount is available if booked before 28th June.

If courses aren't your thing, then there are plenty of volunteering and socialising opportunities at the Plot.  If you have the time and energy you would be made very welcome so get in touch with them via their website or Facebook page for updates on what is going on.  They also have a kickstarter campaign should you wish to donate to this great project.

Now please excuse me as I have loads more seeds to plant, watering to be done, digging, harvesting, checking on the cat protection, slugs and snails we've collected to take for a little ride down to the end of the headland, and the front garden to put back together again after the female badger decided to have a little rampage last night, bless her furry little socks.

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