It's nearly the end of the year so I thought I'd do the cliche post of looking back at how things went. I'll look at how I did against my 16 self sufficency goals that I set for myself for 2017. These were rather optimistic though so please bare that in mind...
1. Gain Better control over my growing areas.
This is a yes and a no to this one! I certainly have the veg garden under control now, but I still need to work on the edges and find a way to control round the outside. I have planted comfrey around the perimeter so I hope this will form a barrier that I can mow up to. Weed mebrane has been a game changer as well.
My fruit garden on the other hand is completely out of control and I'd go as far as saying it's beyond saving. My plan with that is to cover it over with plastic and leave it for a year. I'm going to start a new fruit garden in the orchard, with wide rows and hopefully some annual beds in between, watch this space for that one!
2. Garden Smarter Not Harder
I've been really trying with this one!
All my garden beds are now the same size and I think by the end of the year I am up to 54 beds at 10ft by 30inches. I love this size, find it easy to work, although I do have a few double the length. I have weed membrane burnt with the right holes for different crops, hoops and net that will fit any bed, it just seems a great way to work.
A push seeder has also helped me be far faster when it comes to direct sowing and using standard cell trays has made me better at transplanting.
3. Record Keeping
Well I certainly tried at this one but unfortunately I seem to have stopped around August time!
I will try harder next year, it is the key for success I think! At least I know when I started to grow things and how early things went in. The peas are certainly something I'll be trying to get in just as early this next growing season, as well as beets and carrots. I was pleased with how soon we were getting proper harvests from the garden this year.
Well this didn't happen! I did sell excess produce at playgroup and at the school gate. I supplied a couple of friends with veg boxes during the summer, one friend had one every couple of weeks, there isn't much money in selling veg but it helps pay for the obscene quantities of seed that I buy each year!
I had a good lambing and sold the lambs as stores in October, not great money but it's nice lump before Christmas.
I did my first paid garden club talk, this was something I really enjoyed so I'll be looking at putting myself out there more next year, I already have a few talks booked up.
Next year I'm going to concentrate on getting the extension finished then I can look at finding some other revenue streams that can be based from here.
I grew a good amount of early potatoes, which we really enjoyed. I'm going to grow more potatoes next year and maybe create a bit more growing space for them...
Didn't bother with chickpeas though but grew soup peas instead. They taste great but look horrible so I need to find some that will dry green rather than grey! My wife eats with her eyes!
6. Be better at harvesting and preserving
I've been dehydrating lots of things with my new dehydrator, this has meant that we can use summer gluts (squash) in the winter. I'd like to dehydrate more veg though as I seemed to concentrate on mainly fruit (mainly apples, lots and lot so of apples).
7. Be More Proactive at dealing with problems
I've been out there a lot more this year so I guess that's been the main thing helping me keep things in line. I certainly could be better at trapping rodents (although I've made lots of boxes for traps) and I need to be better at covering areas that aren't in use so weeds don't take control.
8. Grow more
I have never grown so much as I have this year! We have had so much food from our homestead it's unreal. We've eaten more veg than ever, with multiple crops from each bed, and having our own lambs and chickens from the land has been great as well.
The meat chickens in particular have been awesome and something I'm looking at doing again next year.
9. Seed Saving
I've had more plants in to save seed from this year. I still need to process some of them but I'm pleased with what I've got.
I joined my local seed saving/swap group and have been going to meetings, this has been a great source of knowledge as well as a good way to meet like minded people.
On top of this I have also joined the heritage seed library and have grown a few things for them as well.
10. Hard and Soft Fruit
My wife worked hard to be able to get at the soft fruit early in the season, battling the nettles, and only because of her did we manage to have so many raspberries. But I do think the area is beyond saving and needs to be covered over and start again somewhere without so many nettles!
plant another 13 apple trees in the coppice so in the future that should help to stock our larder!
11. Improve the coppice area
I didn't increase the willow numbers but I did plant lots of apple trees.
We also made a log circle and enjoyed the area earlier in the year.
12. Building work
I'm certainly not where I want to be with this one!
13. Herbs and Spices
I grew mostly the same number of things as what I normally do, there was a few new ones, like Korean mint and summer savory for example. I really enjoy growing and using herbs so I'll be looking out for more interesting ones next year. I have been talking to some local restaurants and the chefs have tried some of the more unusual things I've grown. The black mint is one that they are interested in so I might put a bigger patch of that in next year!
Well I've kept up with this one! Even had a proposal due to my Chelsea buns the one day! I bake so often now that it's become second nature, I don't have to look at many instructions or recipes but just know what I'm doing. If I'd could tell my younger self that he'd never believe me!
The sheep have been good this year and haven't destroyed my will to keep them, like they have in the past, they still don't make much money but they are great for the kids and I do enjoy it.
As I've mentioned above the meat chickens have been a great addition this year and having 20 laying birds in pasture pens has also been great. My new pens have really helped me keep my birds healthy and even when it was down to negative 12 degrees c the other night they were fine in their heras panel pens with just a tarp and one side filled in.
I just think there's something wrong with me.
One thing that wasn't on the original list but should have been was learning and training. This is something that I've put a lot of effort into this year, I've attended talks, spent the day with a market gardener, visited another market garden and spent a day there, went to a days course at garden organic on unusual veg and read lots and lots on the subject. Some might even call me obsessed...
I have tried to put it into practice where I can and I have some plans for next year forming in my mind!
So there's my review of my goals that I set myself at the start of the year. I don't think I've done too bad but there are certainly areas to improve!
What do you think?
Did you achieve your goals for 2017?
What do you think should be on my list for 2018? I won't be offended!