Permaculture principles (c) Rianne Mason

October garden journal

This month I learnt the basics of permaculture, got down and dirty with manure and learnt what to look out for in the animal kingdom.

Permaculture in a day

Permaculture principles (c) Rianne Mason

Thanks to Ryan’s introduction to permaculture course I had a great day learning the basic principles and getting to know fellow earth lovers. The best part was seeing his allotment in Alfreton and the stark contrast with the surrounding bare soil patches.

Seeing the biodiversity that Ryan has created in his patch, following forest garden principles, made me sure I was following the right path. You can see what Ryan’s up to, and sign up to his course, at

Taking down rhubarb ad beans

Rhubarb (c) Rianne Mason

I’ve spent a lot of time these past couple of month taking things down and removing plants. It’s an odd part of the gardening world, as it seems counter-intuitive, but it’s essential to garden maintenance.

Don’t make things too tidy though! Keeping some dead wood and old pots/stones around for little creatures to hide in will give your garden the second set of caretakers it needs – beneficial animals and insects.

Building a beetle bank

Using a wheel barrow (c) Rianne Mason

Speaking of beneficial animals, this is me building a beetle bank. It’s for the RHS practical course I’m doing and it’s pretty easy really. You just have to create a mound of soil that the beetles and bury themselves in and then sprinkle grass/meadow seed on the top.

You can also attract beetles with a leaf mound, just leave a small pile of autumn leaves in your garden – they’ll love it!

Clearing my bed and adding manure

Horse manure (c) Rianne Mason

So this was my first encounter with a pile of horse manure! Again – for the RHS course. It’s all part of preparing my flower bed for Spring. Horse manure is THE BOMB when it comes to fertilisers for your plants. So buckle up and dig in if you get access to some – it will all be worth it in the end.

Identifying pests and disease

Viburnum beetle (c) Rianne Mason

My studies have taught me that a huge part of being a gardener is pest control. I’m an advocate for natural methods of control over chemicals. Nothing good has ever come of eating chemicals. This means a bit of planning with physical barriers, resistant cultivars, non-toxic sprays and biological control.

Learning about conifers, evergreen shrubs and how to grow veg – phew!

Larix decidua (c) Rianne Mason

Every week now I’m learning at least 10 botanical names of plants from different families. This month included conifers and evergreen shrubs. There are sooo many beautiful conifers out there, I really developed a new appreciation for them. Studying their differences to help remember them has taught me how useful it can be to simply take time to look at plants and their distinctive features.

I also learnt about growing vegetables for my theory studies, where the importance of crop rotation came up again. This is a great method for growing veg and reducing the risk of disease (which stays dormant in the soil year after year). Because a disease or pest prefers a specific crop, rotating them ensures it can’t feast on your crop again the second year and will eventually die out.

Again this means less chemicals – YAY!

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