All The Leaves Are Brown…

Les Vignes Basses has been a hive of activity over the past month. Between building projects, permaculture design courses, sub-zero temperatures and our first visitors, we’ve also been getting ready for spring and started teaching online again.

After we finished the workshop our focus switched to completing our Permaculture Design Course. As mentioned in a previous blog, the PDC has helped us make informed decisions when planning all aspects of our land. We both created a design for Les Vignes Basses separately and then brought the two together combining the best features from both. Once the final design was submitted to the course tutor at Patrick Whitefield Associates it became a waiting game before we could start planting our food forest.

The final permaculture design plan for Les Vignes Basses

It didn’t take long for a reply confirming the design was sensible for our land and so the fun part commences! We sourced our trees from a local nursery and ordered them in two stages. Our good friends, Tez and Helen arrived just in time to help out with the planting. They also brought freezing temperatures with them…. -4! Brrr! Unfortunately we are a little low on accommodation space at the moment, but this didn’t faze them one bit and they were well prepared to sleep in their car.

It was a minus 4 kinda morning...

The planting started 🙂 all container grown trees first; peach, nectarine, olive and persimmon. It was a learning curve but eventually the sun shone on us when the final, sixth tree was planted.

Planting the first round of trees for the food forest
Planting the first round of trees for the food forest

Tez and Helen stayed with us for a couple more fun filled days before heading down to Spain. We continued to make headway with our favourite recycled material; pallets!! A pallet compost area was first up, followed by two enormous raised beds. We also managed to set to on recreating a secondary access to the land by tackling what felt like a forest full of brambles. The access used to be used as a tractor entrance but hadn’t been for years. Hence the enormous amount of brambles!

An endless task with many prickles!
An endless task with many prickles!

Thanks to a lovely couple in our village of Exideuil, we have started teaching online again. They have allowed unlimited access to a room in their house with internet….Learn English Online is once more! We hope this will create the best means of income to enable us to build our straw bale house.

Our lovely new English teaching space.
Our lovely new English teaching space.

After their time in Spain, Tez and Helen returned to us, this time bringing the Spanish sunshine! Unbelievable weather for the beginning of November; 23 degrees, clear, sunny and still. Great weather for planting the second round of our food forest. This time nine bare rooted trees and four berry shrubs. They were picked up at 4pm, which didn’t leave much time to get them planted! The four of us worked well into darkness (with obligatory wine breaks), but it was totally worth it to wake up the next glorious morning and see all the trees happy as larry. This time the planting consisted of; apples, pears, plums, apricots, almonds, mirabelles, cherries, goji berries, blueberries and loganberries. Yummers!

Despite a race against the clock to get the new trees planted, there is always time for wine o'clock at sunset!
Despite a race against the clock to get the new trees planted, there is always time for wine o’clock at sunset!
Happy food forest fairies!
Happy food forest fairies!
It doesn't look much now...but wait for it to grow
It doesn’t look much now…but wait for it to grow

Autumn is a great time to plant trees because they stop putting as much energy in to making leaves and branches, instead moving the energy downwards into their roots. It is as though they are retreating for the winter, much like the cranes who keep flying over Les Vignes Basses on their way to Africa.

Planting some seedlings ready for next spring.
Planting some seedlings ready for next spring.
The Crane Migration...It's time for Africa
The Crane Migration…It’s time for Africa

We also made a third raised bed for camomile, moved the guttering on the workshop and further cleared the entrance way with Tez and Helen, they were extremely helpful and we can’t thank them enough for their enthusiasm.

Testing the strength of the camomile raised bed.
Testing the strength of the camomile raised bed.
Tez and Helen were the first entries of what we hope will be many many more in the future.
Tez and Helen were the first entries of what we hope will be many many more in the future.

Now that we are all prepared for next spring, it is time to make a real start on our planning application for our straw bale house.

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