Allotment Gardening Advice Help Chat

Welcome => Welcome to the Forums => Topic started by: Martin Turton on August 20, 2020, 09:16

Title: This looks the place to ask ..
Post by: Martin Turton on August 20, 2020, 09:16
Hi, Beginners/ Noob/
We have just bought a small Renovation Project over in Southern, Central France. Old Farm with 4 Acres and another 4 in the pipeline the initial field is attached to the Garden we have let our neighbor graze his Sheep and horses on for the last two years. Saved me mowing and put some goodness back into the land. The Field has a good well and has Plum, Cherry, and Damson or Sloe trees the field is about an Acre and slopes, fully South Facing full Sun from very early till very late. I am looking to get a Polly Tunnel around the 12ft x 20ft size but am stuck on how to layout the blank canvas we have. I like the Idea of using Permaculture so will have Hens ( 25 ish) and Ducks Goats or small pigs ( only 2-3 of the bigger animals)on a patch to eat any bugs and start prepping the ground before moving them on and starting with either no-dig beds/ Raised Beds or even Rotivaded beds. ok overview done, How / Where to Start ?? I have a Solar powered pump to draw water from the Well and Meters of hosepipe and leaky pipe to go round the Fruit trees more Apple, Pear to be ordered the current problem is just where to start. this is to supply ourselves and an honesty stall at the end of the Lane. I think I am ready to jump into things but not sure just where to start.  This is a Big and Great opportunity if ~I can get things right from the start or the second or third attempt... thanks for any ideas or pointers Picture is looking down the field I am on about.
Title: Re: This looks the place to ask ..
Post by: Aunt Sally on August 20, 2020, 09:28
Hi Martin

Welcome to the forums.  We have a few members who live in South West France who I am sure will be able to give you lots of advice.

Please post further individual questions on the relevant boards.  That way you will receive more focused and useful replies.
Title: Re: This looks the place to ask ..
Post by: John on August 25, 2020, 10:17
Quite jealous looking at the photo - flat land!

I think the main thing is to decide what you want to achieve in the end, so you start in the right direction.  You mention 25 hens - are they for the eggs or meat birds? Income or home supply? Honesty boxes may work but around here I know people who tried and gave up as they became free supply stations for strangers.

Main thing is to enjoy the journey and be prepared for a few detours along the way!
Title: Re: This looks the place to ask ..
Post by: hasbeans on August 25, 2020, 11:31
You could start with getting your soil tested if you haven't done yet.  That might make a few decisions for you.  Looking at the water flow over your plot to see where gets too dry/waterlogged, with such a blank canvas you might want to introduce swales to direct water to your veg plot.  A pond is not only great for biodiversity, it's a big water butt.  Maybe edible hedging around your veg patch to keep critters out or provide productive cover to unsightly fencing?

As well as here, the Permies website has a lot of stuff on permaculture homesteading, mostly by people in the states but is informative.   'The Bio-Integrated Farm' - Jadrnicek might be useful for some ideas even if not doing things on the same scale.
Title: Re: This looks the place to ask ..
Post by: jambop on August 29, 2020, 11:45
 Hi I live in SW France . I have to say that is a lot of ground... I am glad I don't have it! I have 4000m2 and it is too much for me! I am retired and want an easy life  :lol:  You are probably younger and full of life and energy. I have always said to the wife if I was younger and had the time again I would probably make a market garden on my ground and you could easily do that with yours... depends on what you want to do and how much money time and work you are willing to spend on it ... it will be hard work what ever you do unless you put grazing livestock on it. Having a good water source is a bonus although 4 acres will dry most wells in no time in the summer :(
Title: Re: This looks the place to ask ..
Post by: snowdrops on August 29, 2020, 15:42
Personally I wouldnít go the raised bed route in your location as they tend to increase drainage to tge beds & for the south of France I would have thought watering enough in high summer would be difficult enough. Iím a self confessed addict of no dig, & apart from the initial outlay of enough composted mulch & energy spent transporting it & spreading it donít find it too prohibitive. The animals you are planning on getting will keep you well supplied with manure to make you self sufficient in it in the near future I would presume. Good luck with it all & id love to see your progress. Try contacting Charles Dowding as he gardens for profit & he does run courses for market gardeners.
Title: Re: This looks the place to ask ..
Post by: jambop on August 29, 2020, 18:04
I don't think you are wrong snowdrops I live as said SW France where , strangely enough although we get a very high annual rain fall, in the summer it does take a lot of water to keep raised beds healthy. Of course in the case of this gentleman he has huge amounts of land and it is very possible he could make a huge pond/reservoir to store vast amounts of winter rains for summer use it is very, very common down where I stay. I have completely embraced no dig raised beds and so far even though it has been a very dry and hot summer things have gone very well.
Title: Re: This looks the place to ask ..
Post by: snowdrops on August 29, 2020, 19:13
I just feel raised beds are an unnecessary expense & effort unless you really need them for say mobility problems or issues with soil/ drainage, a, for the cost of the material to build them & b, the cost of the soil/compost to fill them. I actually lived in the South of France for a very short while many moons ago & know first hand how expensive water from the tap is & of course how hot the weather is during the summer.
Aesthetically a raised bed looks lovely & I originally thought I would have them on my allotment but the cost put me off so I started with long narrow beds & have found that to work. No dig doesnít recommend them because it creates a lovely habitat for slugs & snails which of course are rife here in England but Iím not sure about in your climate, snails I recall seeing  but not so slugs, but I wasnít particularly interested in gardening then lol
Title: Re: This looks the place to ask ..
Post by: jambop on August 29, 2020, 20:18
Well I do not think I could recommend raised beds as we know them on a  four acre plot... more a system of permanent beds where the ground is given minimum cultivation and maximum feeding by way of manure and composted waste. Given the amount of ground area the man has I would not really be worried about water management provided a large enough reservoir was dug to supply the needs. However at the end of the day he has not told us what his plans actually are ? A few raised beds is absolutely no problem at all I have 16 which are 3m x 1.5m I can nearly manage from my own garden pond ... but  I thought, I have no idea why, his plans may have been bigger than that and so a  large water resource would be required. Personally I would not be taking on more land than I actually need and can supply the finance to make it profitable. Sadly France is littered with tales of people from the UK buying up old farms and finding out the hard way that there is not much money to be made from them.
Title: Re: This looks the place to ask ..
Post by: Oilrigger on October 06, 2020, 11:29
If you're planning to use your land for both animal & veg production, you can do no worse than fall back on a traditional rotation system. Some years ago, living in Devon, I used the following rotation, which generally worked well. Divide your land into 4 areas. Year 1, Area A, Grass; Area B,  Sheep;  Area C, Veg;  Area D, Turnips. Then Year 2, Area A, Sheep; Area B, Veg, etc

You move your sheep onto the Grass Area (Summer) then to the Turnip Area (Winter). Sheep muck helps your veggies grow. Turnips leave nitrogen in the soil, which helps the grass grow. We allowed sheep, ducks & chucks to wander (manure) together.   Take advice (from a local farmer) on how many sheep to the area you have available. If too many sheep for the available grass/turnips, they will escape!

Hope this helps.........
Title: Re: This looks the place to ask ..
Post by: Yorkie on October 06, 2020, 21:35
Welcome to the site and congrats on your new project  :ohmy: :D

If you pop your general location into your forum profile, we'll remember whereabouts you are - often relevant when chatting about growing stuff  :)
Title: Re: This looks the place to ask ..
Post by: coldandwindy on October 11, 2020, 11:09
How very exciting! Mainly make sure to take time to enjoy it & keep reminding yourself why you came & where you used to be!!  :D
My 2 pennyworth, based on crofting in a very different climate :
Most traditional animal+crop rotations are based on ploughing. If you go no-dig better to have a veg area & an animal area , otherwise the trampling will compact the soil. (Once the initial clearing is done I mean).
Forget raised beds - a passing fashion with many disadvantages! (puts tin hat on & waits for the flack :mad:)
Decide your veg rotation & each year for the next (4? 6?) years start a new potato plot on 1/4 ( 1/6 whatever ?) of the land. Behind that add one more each year of whatever comes next in the order. Better than diving into cultivating it all at once. 
Obvious (sorry) but make friends with your new neighbours & find out what works locally.
We found a local shop that will retail our eggs. They pay less than using an honesty box but they take as many or as few as we have. None left unsold, none stolen, very little effort, same all year round. 
Don't pay for courses on holistics , they're unnecessarily expensive & some of them are pyramid schemes. The world is full of genuine people who give out info for free. (Some are wrong of course, but cast a wide net & see what the majority agree with!)
Good luck!