Mobile Home Garden

Mobile Home Garden (2001-2005)

June garden, two years onThis Permaculture garden was created around my home at the time, in the corner of an orchard, using a lot of recycled materials. I started it in the Spring of 2001, by reclaiming the grass a bit at a time. It may not have been to everyone's tastes, but it did attract a lot of wildlife, provide some food and I also think it was very beautiful. The picture on the left was taken in June 2003 and already the planting was really starting to make a difference. One of the design principles of Permaculture involves examining your resources: what is easily to hand or freely available and this garden demonstrated this very well. The garden utilised recycled items from the very start, in fact hardly any money was spent during the initial stages.

Starting the garden in  Spring 2001Here's a picture below taken when it all started two years previously! The new beds were made on meadow grass which contained a lot of dock, nettle and buttercup in particular. In order to give the new plants a chance, the ground was first mulched with cardboard waste from local shops (which would in time decompose), then on top of that was placed a mixture of homemade compost, soil (mainly clay), plus sand, gravel and manure to give it some structure. The manure was a very local resource being heaped only a few yards away and most of the first plantings were surplus from friends' gardens. The bed edging was made from fencing post offcuts, which along with the bark chippings from the same source were free of charge, although I did have to collect them. 

Building the decking structure in Spring 2001The main project of the first year was to erect the decking, in order to provide a better growing environment for younger and more delicate plants, enable the better use of vertical space and of course provide a bit of Peoplecare too! It was constructed using new timber for the framework, but recycling pallets for the decking surface. It transformed the space, just about doubling the living space in the summer months and being pretty much slug and frost proof too! An added bonus was that it also made the mobile home more stable in high winds. As you can also see, the simple act of painting the mobile home green also helped it blend into its environment much better.

Garden bed behind mobile homeIn the first year some work was done on developing behind the mobile home too, but limited to the beds in the picture on the right. Comfrey was planted as a useful green manure crop in the shadiest spot against the mobile home, where as you can see, it thrived. Other vigorous plants were planted in front of the hedge, where they would have to do well to hold their own! Some did better than others. The area could also be an evening suntrap and at other times a wind funnel, a fact noticed through long-term observation; another important permaculture design process. Straw spillings (shown here) were tried as a path base, but rotted too quickly. A later experiment with wood chippings from tree work done on the farm turned out much better.


The same pond a couple of months later

The new pond in early Summer 2003The next project was to extend the garden further out behind the mobile home, creating more beds and a pond, also utilising the south facing side of a metal shed for more excellent growing opportunities. Again there was plenty of cardboard and manure available and this time the bed edges were made using used bottles (and no I didn't drink my way through them first!). The bottles are remarkably strong and have been tested in this way for safety before being used at busy tourist attractions like the Centre for Alternative Technology and the HDRA Organic Gardens. The mound of earth (mostly clay actually) from digging out the pond was heaped up and spare large stones from a dismantled wall used to create a rockery.

The garden in early Summer 2003The same stone was also used to edge the pond, hiding the edge of the liner. One end of the pond had a gravel beach to allow birds to come and drink or bathe and small animals to get out again if they fell in. It also proved to be a favourite sunbathing place for all the tadpoles hatched from some frog spawn, rescued from a ditch early in the Spring. It soon became a popular place for birds bathing, and much wildlife set up home, including a large blue dragonfly. Wire trellises were attached to both the shed (which was also painted green) and the mobile home for climbers, and a whole lot more inherited pots filled the decking area to capacity. A lot happened in the few years I was there, up  until the farm was sold in the autumn of 2005.

For a more detailed look at this design, see my Diploma Portfolio Mobile Home Garden Design.

The decking, June 2003

The decking & garden, June 2003