How can we live by creating a sustainable biodiverse world, instead of by consuming and destroying the one we have?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Ducklings roam free

My wife decided today to let the duckling out of their coop and test how it goes with our dog who was very excited (in a negative way) when he saw the ducklings for the first time. Now after 6 weeks our Bailey the dog seems very calm around them. They could see each other through the fence for the last 6 weeks and I think that helped them to accept each other.
Even though I feel sick today (sore throat and stiff neck) I managed to move 3 pallets of insulation material onto the loft (through the window). Soon to start insulating because the weather has turned colder here in Scandinavia.

Housewarming party and Farm-naming ceremony at The Willow Farm

We moved to this new farm of ours in December last year and were renovating it most of the time. It was about time to invite our friends for the housewarming party :)
Good company and good food and drinks
Farm-naming ceremony "The Willow Farm" (Piletoften in Danish)
"From this day on this farm is to be known as The Willow Farm" were my words before screwing the name sign onto the wall of our new home. Its interesting to say that I was born on a 19th and the house number is 19 too.
The morning after the party ended with a relaxed breakfast with our friends. I am happy all these fine people came to share this moment with us but Im especially happy to see my very good friend Shreyans which comes from India (the guy in the glasses to the right) :) Thank you all and I hope to see you again some time soon :)

Sexing Mouskovy ducklings

Our ducklings are approximately 6 weeks old now. According to some info on the net if duckling get their permanent feathers between week 4 and 6 they are most certainly females. Our duckling got their first permanent feathers at week 4 and as you can see in this new picture their wings are almost entirely covered with feathers :) Since I would like to increase this flock for the next year I am very much looking forward to get 3 more females. 
Apparently males start getting permanent feathers later but they start forming the red skin around their face sooner than the females.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Covering the soil with wood chips

I have started recently to cover our new kitchen garden with wood chips and today I have finished the job. The garden is about 400 square meters and will suffice for now.
It is very important to apply at least 10 cm layer of wood chips (15 cm is perfect) to keep the weeds at bay. I applied a bit thinner layer on a few spots and the weeds started growing so I applied some more cover material to suppress them.
I planted 10 american Blueberry bushes in our forest garden (3 different sorts for cross-pollination). I first dug 60x60cm holes, placed Rhododendron soil in and mixed it with some clay soil (but not much) 
 Once the Blueberries were planted I watered them good. Will have to water a few more times this week.
And at the end I mulched the bushes with wood chips to suppress weeds and to conserve moisture.
Lets see how they do next year :)

Monday, September 8, 2014

Autumn planting for the bees

People mostly think about Spring time when planting for the bees but indeed one can also plant in Autumn. As a matter of fact most trees, bushes and bulb plants need to be planted in Autumn, because if planted in Spring they might easily dehydrate since their roots are too short and bulbs need cold stratification period. So get out into your garden and go on planting, but make sure to avoid pesticides of all types :)
I vowed to be planting every year (Autumn) at least 10 trees and bushes and 300 bulb (Crocus, Scilla and Snow drops). Some ideas on bee friendly gardening; The Pollinator Gardening

I have visited my parents in law last weekend. They have a small shrubbery which is a bit overgrown so they were happy to hear that I would like to plant some of the trees they had for bees on our new farm. So I grabbed a shovel and started digging up Hawthorn, Rowan, Oak, Aronia and plants like Asters and Marjoram. I even bought 10 Blueberry bushes and spring blooming Cotoneaster bushes in a near by shop. I needed a trailer to get all that back to our farm, some 200 km away.
I ordered 300 bulbs from ebay very cheap. 100 of each: Crocus, Scilla and Snow Drops. I made sure they are not sprayed with pesticides. The supplier reassured me that they use no pesticides since I am keeping bees this was of utmost importance for me and they respected this.
Spring bulbs of Crocus, Scilla and Snow Drops

This video explains about planting bee friendly gardens;

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Wood Chip Gardening at The Willow Farm

I have talked for so long about starting with "Wood Chip Gardening" one day and that day is finally here :) I ordered 30 cubic meters of wood chips and it arrived yesterday.
Feeling like a little boy inside a sand box :) 
Note the variety of materials!
It is important to mention that there are wood chips and then there are THE wood chips :) For kitchen gardening purpose you want the wood chips composed of all parts of the trees and bushes like leaves, needles, hard wood and bark from various bushes and trees and not from only one kind. 
Like this you get a good balance between the Nitrogen and Carbon needed to aid the decomposition of the wood chips into a lovely black compost soil :)
This is the decomposed wood chip compost :) Black Gold! Gorgeous!
The pile of wood chips is teaming with all sorts of creatures but these were the largest ones. Im not sure what they are but I welcome them to our farm anyway.
Im using the straw bales to define the garden area and they will act as a weed barrier too.
Im applying 5-6 cm tick layer of wood chips on top of the soil. Its important for the layer not to bee too thin otherwise weeds will easily penetrate through ti and will defeat the purpose of covering.
Clean wood chips are not free in Denmark. This particular kind, which is considered waste and untidy looking was for "free" but I had to pay the freight. 

By covering the soil with wood chips I don't need to:
- Plow - no need for tilling since weeds can't grow well when covered
- Harrow - the soil becomes very loose thanks to all the earth worms under the wood chips
- Water - wood chips are great at retaining water/moisture. Naked soil dries out quickly
- Fertilize - the wood chips decompose which turns into fine black compost. I will add some chicken manure because we keep chicks and probably Nettle water to top up the fertility.
- spray Herbicides - weeds can't easily penetrate through wood chips and hence no need to spray herbicides.
... and the soil can't compact when walking or even driving over it because the wood chips.

So I dont need:
- Tractor/ or Rototiller
- Plow
- Harrow
- pesticide spraying equipment
- irrigation system and wasting water
- chemical fertilizers
- petrol and oil for the tractor/rototiller

It seems to me that wood chip gardening saves lots of money and water, it is environmental friendly and creates a superb quality soil which can support the soil food web (all the microorganisms which create healthy soil).

For those of you interested in wood chip gardening please see the Back To Eden documentary for free HERE

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

August update

The greenhouse has been a success so far when it comes to tomatoes and cucumbers. The paprika is not growing that well and the chilies are not giving much fruits. The "naked seed" pumpkin is also growing well but not many fruits on these huge plants. Anyway I will have enough seeds for the next season.
We have lots of grapes but they seem to be a bit sour. Im not sure they will have the chance to ripen totally because the weather has turned a bit cold and rainy :( Still we try to eat them and give some to the chicken (they love them)