Planned Housing Project

I have built three outdoor projects at since we bought the house for this next phase in our online training. Since we took over the house two years ago, I have worked to establish a garden to keep up my ethos that whenever and wherever we can we should grow at least some of our own food. Why do I say that? Well, since 1992 I have always tried to grow a vegetable garden to provide food and to maintain my interests in health and wellbeing. I am not into meditation as an isolating influence because my work gives me ample opportunity to contemplate and I don’t really have the pressures most people suffer from because my work is an immersion into total therapy on its own. Indeed, my classes have hosted professors of psychotherapy, psychotherapists and those investing in the lives of those who struggle with mental health issues.

My garden flourished over the last two years and last year I grew enough potatoes and have supplied my own needs for seven months thus far. I saved enough to replant this year’s seeds from my last year’s plentiful harvest. I know, ‘taters‘ are cheap. That’s not the point and I won’t take the time to disabuse anyone as to my reasoning beyond saying we are designed to grow, cook and make. I’ve always found healthy realms of periodic strenuous exercise in gardening and since moving into my house in mid-2019 I have moved three tons of soil in building up and developing my growing beds and boxes.

Of course, it is not just potatoes, the beds were filled with everything green going from spinach to lettuce and swiss chard to carrots. But then, of course, there was filling my garden with the two sheds and the greenhouse, the raised beds and my granddaughter’s sandbox which we featured in a series on YouTube on how I built it and which she has pretty much played in since then. See the post here.

You will want to make it as much as children will want to play in it, I am sure.

2020, my pallet-wood shed is almost up.

There is of course exercise and mental stimuli gymnastics throughout everything that I do. Planning and developing ideas that culminate in regular growing and making is intrinsic to us all, even if we don’t as yet do any of it. One day and for no apparent reason, we decide to plant a single tomato plant and we nurture it until it yields for us to eat its fruit. This is therapeutic. We make a growing box to plant three more plants next year and we again get the benefit of fresh fruit. This is therapy.

The first brood in my shed cornered nesting box.

When I built my garden shed by the raised bed area last summer I incorporated two nesting boxes inside the shed. By boring a small hole under the eaves and building a cavity inside, I created a nesting box for smaller cavity nesters like titmice, wrens, nuthatches and others. It worked! A nest with a clutch of eggs emerged as five newly hatched blue tits. They are growing fast.

There is nothing like home-grown, home-made, home-baked anything.

It’s good for us to save seeds and plant in season, humbling if you see what I mean. My soil is already radically different since I first worked it in 2019. Just adding horse manure and straw to lighten the heavier clay has made it so that my fork goes down a full ‘spit’ (10″ or 25cm) deep. A ‘spit’ is the length of the spade blade. The soil changed colour from grey-brown to black as seen, and weeding is just as easy as can be.

A few seed potatoes from last year’s crops left over here.

I grew potatoes in boxes last year and this gave me a better return than from those I planted in the ground, still, on average I had a return of about 11 times what I planted. Plenty good enough considering `i did not let all the plants go full term but harvested new potatoes for two months beforehand.

17 thoughts on “Planned Housing Project”

  1. Barbaros Baran

    Wish you a healthy and happy life. Hopefully I will follow your path. I‘m working on it 🤗

  2. Vince O'Sullivan

    Where do you get your pallets from? They look a lot better quality than the firewood I typically find.

  3. I watched a gardening program some years ago and was informed, by Alan Titchmarsh, that if I followed his instructions I would be able to harvest a plentiful supply of tomatoes, just when they were really cheap in the shops.

    As a young man I made/ repaired and adapted most of our children’s furniture from recycled chipboard and pallet wood. There is a definite buzz out making something from scratch using your own skills.

    1. “just when they were really cheap in the shops”
      Money is not the measure of all things.
      Growing one’s own tomatoes means choosing using or not chemicals, choosing varieties which might not look so nice but with a better taste, eating really fresh and ripe tomatoes which didn’t travel thousands of km in a fridge.
      Satisfaction of doing things oneself , opportunity to teach patience to (grand) kids and that tomatoes don’t grow in cans.
      And so on.

      1. And the most important – they taste so much better. I have often made a meal of new potatoes cooked with mint, peas and beans all fresh from the garden. All it needs is a little butter.

  4. Thanks Paul. We like to plant tomatoes and cucumbers and strawberries in our garden. We also have some of the basic herbs growing as well for picking fresh and adding to our meals. We enjoy tomato, cucumber, and olive salads in olive oil and vinegar during the summer. Last year I planted a fig, apple, apricot, lemon, and lime trees. This year we also planted watermelon and cantaloupe. It’s nice to see things grow as you mentioned. It is indeed therapeutic.

    Potatoes have a fond place in my heart. My grandfather in the 1910s used to plant potatoes and sell them. The money from these sales is what he used to pay the property taxes.

  5. Hi Paul.

    Thanks for that. We started gardening and growing veg for the first time last year. It’s hard to express in words the experience of planting the seeds and watching them germinate and appear as tiny seedlings with the remainder of the seed hanging from the first leaf. Then watching them grow in their little modules and after transplanting in the ground. The other day I had home made chicken and leek soup for lunch. The leeks were home grown and I topped it off with a single chopped spring onion that was growing 5 minutes before. I notice how quickly growing food feels normal yet the magic of it doesn’t fade. As with woodworking this knowledge and experience has been available to me for decades and I wonder how I managed to avoid it until now. “When the student is ready the teacher will appear” 🙂

  6. Michael Pollon notes that Idaho farmers don’t personally eat potatoes grown in their commercial field as the chemicals used are too toxic. They grow their personal potatoes in small household gardens like the rest of us.

    For me growing things is surely making, but growing a tomato from a tiny brown spec of a seed is somehow different. You provide the environment, but the plant does the rest with out your control (mostly). You’d never refer to gardening as working plants. It’s good to team up with the plants and make together.

  7. I have been wondering where you were at with the house you bought and planned to fill with furniture you made yourself.

    1. I am currently on the living room and on my third main piece. The builders have reworked the living room, hallway, entrance stairs and landing and they are about to do the dining room and kitchen to combine them into one.

  8. Chris Calant

    Hi Paul, this was pleasant reading again, I must say you’re very a good writer. As for me, when we bought our house 22 years ago, I tried to grow some food too, but as for 2 reasons it never worked out…we’re on sand and I loose interest when things don’t work out the way I want them to. Lucky for me there’s another thing that keeps me from going down again, that’s my music. I’m no professional and I even don’t wanna make money out of it, it just eases my mind, especially in these corona times. Noone there to interfere so I can do whatever I want and however I want it….but thnx, now I’m encouraged for a new try and tomatoes and peppers

  9. Paul,

    May I ask if you have any plans or a video series available for your greenhouse, please?

    Thank you for all that you do.


  10. tayler whitehead

    hi paul, here in nz where i live we are lucky if we get one frost a year, so i do have a large vege garden that goes all year round, this also means lots of citrus trees, oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit and the normal fruits like apples, pears, peaches cherries etc. i intentionally replaced most of the decorative trees with fruiting to make the most of our 1/3 acre section. i agree that there is nothing as satisfying as eating your own produce. plus i know it has no unnatural additives and sprays. as a child in england many years ago, i remember going to the door to collect the milk from the doorstep. finding little holes pecked in the tops where the tits had stolen the cream from the top. so i did enjoy your pic of the nesting box.

  11. We have four 8ftx4ft vegetable beds, but if we left them open like yours the rats, wild bunnies, squirrels and birds would destroy it all. We need to surround ours with “cages” of 2×4 studs coered in 1/2″ hardware cloth (to you UK-ers that’s 16ga steel mesh). It’s a pain in the behind but we love the veggies – and melon and strawberries.

  12. Casper Endlein

    Here in the states, we have a noted naturalist by the name of Aldo Leopold who is a very thoughtful and proficient writer. His writing reminds me very much of Paul’s writing and I hope that Paul will put together a compilation of his writings in a book. It would be so nice to have it on my book shelf next to People’s. Paul, your writing needs, or rather deserves more recognition.

  13. Hi Paul, keep up the good work! Recently, you shown a vintage hand crank bench drill with auto feeding downwards and you have a few. Wonder you can make a video of it’s mechanical parts apart and explain how it really work. I’m always fascinated with mechanical design of the past which are not seen these days.

    I’m from the far east, Singapore.
    Thank you.

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