A peaceful self-sufficient vegan garden in Belgium by Coline

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A peaceful self-sufficient vegan garden in Belgium by Coline This is my blog about my garden (with many more photos): www.monjardinvegan.revolublog.com

Illustration above by Coline Photos by Coline and Nicolas Photo below – first year of crops in 2016.

There are perennials (raspberries, tree onions, wild spinach), and at the back a plum tree. The other flowers and vegetables are milk thistle, marigold, borage, nasturtium, red and yellow chards, Tuscan black palm kale, tomatoes and potatoes. I added pieces of wood – shelters and food for animals such as louses, earthworms, centipedes, newts, slugs, ants and various beetles.

End of winter, early spring. The strong cold wind is still blowing, adding to the rain, and that’s the Belgian weather in my garden! But … I began the seedlings and I keep an optimistic attitude. One week after this, the sun is back. Birds are singing, and spring is coming soon! Ants, bees and beetles are back in the garden. My garden is located in the Belgian countryside and is approximately 2500 sq metres (0.6 acres). I grow flowers, fruit and vegetables stockfree in an orchard with apple trees (old varieties), plum trees (old varieties), cherry trees (several varieties), walnut trees, and several kinds of berries too.

Permaculture inspired me, but every day I try to find my own way with stockfree gardening. Here are some of my practices: no-dig, mulches all year, composting directly on the soil, growing old and forgotten varieties where possible, non-GMO and no F1 hybrids, wild perennial vegetables, saving seeds, and no crop rotations.

Wildlife is an integral part of my garden, and plays an important role. We share this space in harmony, and have a non-violent attitude. It’s a peaceful place for fauna and flora, and there are no pests here. This idea, and this word, shouldn’t exist in vegan gardening! No animal should be considered a pest.

Mon amie la taupe I love my garden, and I don’t want to and can’t control everything. My garden always has the remarkable and wonderful power to surprise me! Interesting examples are the moles and voles. They help me to garden! The moles aerate my soil (which is clay) as do the voles, but the moles (les taupes) design my garden too. In a few days, a molehill can be built – fantastic!

Later, I use it to grow plants. The moles and voles not only aerate the soil, but their tunnels are shelters for other animals (frogs, toads, bumblebees, shrews …).

Here are some of my homegrown vegetables and aromatic herbs: wild perennials (onion, celery, garlic, rocket, etc), red orach, various tomatoes, various potatoes, watercress, chards, black chickpeas, peas, various beans, various squashes, various cabbages, corns, radishes and basils, rosemary, thymes, tarragon, mint, lemon balm, flowers … To be self-sufficient in food as much as possible is an essential element of my vegan gardening, and I’m trying to depend on a minimum of consumer society. For example, I use a manual chaff-cutter (an old mechanical device made in England at the end of the 19th century). It was used in animal exploitation, and now I use it in a vegan garden to make various mulches. It’s a new life for this tool! About tools, my main and best one is a … tablespoon! I use it to plant most of the vegetables and flowers. The start of spring is better than it was last year (my first year in this garden), so I’m very busy with seedlings – and I love that!

Coline with tomatoes … and the old manual chaff-cutter

One of the plum trees in bloom (April 2017)

Ahhhhhhh, my friend la taupe (the mole)! She decided that one of my patches of land was really interesting. I let her go ahead and … a one metre in diameter molehill was built, a ready to use mound with very good soil. A mole’s gift. I began to grow tree onions, and later in the season I’ll grow more crops there.

Live Chat from Veganic Gardeners’ Question Time Episode 1

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00:13:17 Eva Lindberg: Hello, I am glad to join! Eva from Sweden
00:21:34 Karen Wilson: I have trouble with slugs and snails and want to manage them veganically please
00:23:23 Colleen Pereira: Karen, I have the same. I use wire half-moon loops which I cover with netting and stake that netting close into the ground. I actually use those convoluted mesh things that you shower with – once they are old and finished. I simply boil them and use them. I do this for my radishes and other root crops.
00:25:27 Karen Wilson: Thank you Colleen, that’s definitely something to look at.
00:25:53 Colleen Pereira: The holes in the mesh are too small for molluscs to pass through. If you can get hold of leopard slugs – they eat the others. And leave off manures and fertilizers – that attracts the molluscs.
00:27:11 Karen Wilson: I do have leopard slugs and I’m trying to cover the area with sharp wood chippings from my garden shredder.
00:28:26 Colleen Pereira: Karen, what also defers them are citrus peels scattered all over the planting area.
00:29:07 Karen Wilson: That’s a good tip thank you
00:30:03 Colleen Pereira: Karen, some people also use coffee grounds to dissuade them from coming in. And coffee grounds also tend to enrich the soil.
00:30:40 Karen Wilson: Marvellous!
00:32:34 paul paine: if you don’t want to waste avocado stones you can try this…https://www.theguardian.com/food/2019/jan/05/avocado-stones-mexican-chocolate-mole-sauce-waste-not-leftovers-tom-hunt
00:32:48 Colleen Pereira: We grew all three in Natal in South Africa.
00:37:58 Sue Nicholson: Very difficult to source Happy Compost and other vegan friendly compost at the moment
00:39:33 Jake Rayson: Sue, it is possible to bulk buy peatfree compost, I put together a leaflet for gardening clubs for #PeatFreeApril https://res.cloudinary.com/growdigital/image/upload/v1582118430/gardening-club-leaflet-1.0.pdf
00:39:48 Jake Rayson: Might be too much for 1 person tho!
00:41:32 Jake Rayson: Smallest amount is from Fertile Fibre, they do 1/4 pallets, but it is pricey
00:41:50 Sue Nicholson: Thanks Jake will follow up
00:43:36 Petra Wynbrandt: Do you consider vermicomposting or purchasing bags of worm castings to be veganic?
00:45:12 Carl Duffin: Leaving the lower leaves is great until the slug has eaten the whole seedling in its first week in the soil!
The answer to this has been to have back-up at home to replace or to use the damaged spot to grow something else – often a spot will be bad for one plant but ok for another.
00:45:16 paul paine: I use hops from the brewery as a mulch on my beds…
00:45:33 paul paine: my whole plot smells like IPA!
00:47:26 Jake Rayson: Re slugs, this is one of the reasons I want to transition to perennial vegetables. I always find it’s the seedlings that are most vulnerable
00:48:47 Anna Clayton: Claver Hill in Lancaster uses no dig on a 3 acres site- great!

00:49:15 Carl Duffin: One great thing against slugs is a pond, which will attract the slug’s arch enemy – the frog!
00:49:36 Colleen Pereira: Jake, that is true – re the seedlings. And especially when it rains. What I have done in the past was to grow them to a certain height indoors and then put them in the ground.
00:49:48 Karen Wilson: Yes Carl, I just built a wildlife pond and do have a frog!
00:50:21 Carl Duffin: Good job Karen 🙂
00:50:30 Jake Rayson: Yay for wildlife ponds!
00:50:49 Colleen Pereira: Carl, also if you can get a hedgehog or two to take up residence – that works too!
00:51:21 Jake Rayson: @Colleen how do you encourage a hedgehog to take residence?
00:51:32 Sue Nicholson: I’ve just built a wildlife pond and am hoping!!
00:51:41 Carl Duffin: I’ve never found coffee grounds to be successful against slugs – tried rings around seedlings and they still got munched.
00:52:28 Karen Wilson: Clay soil, my purple sprouting broccoli has done very well
00:52:34 Colleen Pereira: @Jake – who knows? I just had one move in for a while and then I never saw her again.
00:52:52 Carl Duffin: I have an open compost heap and also a hog-house in a quiet part of the plot but neither have been used by hedgehogs – yet …
00:53:35 Karen Wilson: Carl, they need to be able to get in the garden. On Hedgehog Street, you need about 7 gardens joined up?
00:54:27 Karen Wilson: hedgehogs – They say make a hole in fence or a hole under it to allow them to move along the territory.
00:54:32 Carl Duffin: My allotment plot is in the centre of a large allotment site. Unfortunately, most plotholders use slugs pellets.
00:54:53 Sue Nicholson: Would you still need cardboard if you used upended turf?
00:55:00 Colleen Pereira: This was great! Big thank you to VON!!!
00:55:02 Karen Wilson: Oh no, that kills hedgehogs and their babies!
00:55:20 Karen Wilson: Yes big thank you VON 🙂
00:55:27 Jake Rayson: 😞 need to spread the education about slug pellets to allotmenteers
00:55:38 Carl Duffin: True KAren, although new rules on the plot say not to use copper slug pellets, ferrous only.
00:55:52 paul paine: thanks everyone. very enjoyable. And far better than the BBC version!
00:55:58 Colleen Pereira: Y’alls, do you know you can eat the greens from radishes, beetroots and carrots?
00:56:08 Jake Rayson: Thank you all panellists and everyone! Learnt a lot, really useful 😀
00:56:40 Carl Duffin: THANK YOU 🙂
00:56:52 Anna Clayton: Thank you
00:56:58 Amanda Stracey: Thanks everyone.
00:57:01 Karen Wilson: Colleen Ive eaten carrot and beetroot tops
00:57:08 Carl Duffin: and thank you to everyone on Webinar chat!
00:57:10 Sue Nicholson: Really helpful session
00:57:43 Colleen Pereira: Beetroot leaf curry is magic!

Free Download of all Issues of Growing Green International

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Covers vegan organic network magazine vegetarian animal free

VON’s response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

How the world has just changed in just 3 months. In the United Kingdom we are now in our 2nd week of lock down and no real idea of when normality will be restored, or even what the new ‘normality’ will look like.

It is very hard to forecast for instance how food supplies will be affected over the short (we have seen hoarding), medium (changes to supply chains such as reduction in variety) and longer term (workforce, distribution issues).

In the last few weeks there has been a surge in interest in ‘growing your own’ both on social and in mainstream media. In response to this VON has decided to make all of the back issues of Growing Green International Magazine freely available to the public (rather than just members) until the end of June 2020, to help encourage more people to grow fresh fruit and veg during this challenging period. We hope that this will enable some people who have suffered financially or who cannot for any reason get access to healthy food.

VON would really appreciate your help spreading this offer via Instagram, Facebook, email, websites or in any other way you can by using the text below.

Many thanks, Tony (Editor of GGI)

The Vegan Organic Network has been running for over 20 years producing Growing Green International magazine (currently issue 44). Our purpose is to encourage the growing of fruit and veg without the use of animal products or chemicals. We have a wide range of articles including biochar, pollinators, growing mushrooms etc, and a regular section from permaculture teacher Graham Burnett.

As some people are having problems getting fresh fruit and vegetables due to the disruption caused by the Coronavirus (COVID-19), the Vegan Organic Network is giving open access to all back issues of GGI Magazine until the end of June 2020 (normally only available to members). Please feel free to link to and/or share any or all of the 44 issues (over 1700 pages) as well as our growers guide “Growing Veganically”

Link to free download


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We are longstanding VON members. Due to changed family circumstances we are with great sadness leaving the UK. We wish to sell our house and c.10 acres of land as soon as possible. We have had an informal valuation by a local estate agent of around £580,000 but we would obviously prefer it to go to fellow vegans and would reduce the price to genuine vegan purchaser/s.

The location is approximately 10 miles north of Shrewsbury.

There is a three-bedroom detached cottage, large lounge, conservatory, utility room, etc., the oldest part dating from c.1780, and also a separate large oak-framed and -clad building which we had built five years ago as a workroom and office, but which could quickly and easily be adapted as accommodation for a second family (subject to Change of Use Consent), about an acre of garden with a polytunnel, a further approx. 1 acre which was probably once used as a paddock, but which we have allowed to grow wild, apart from planting a few apple trees, and a further 8 acre field which drains well into the nearby river. We have fenced off a small corner of the field and are trying to encourage tree growth as an extension of existing neighbouring woodland. There is a detached double garage, and further parking space.

The garden has several heritage apple trees, mulberry, quince, medlar, sloe, pear, damsons, morello cherry and a productive fig tree as well as a wide range of hardy perennials and shrubs. The polytunnel has a white dessert grapevine.

The cottage has two log-burners, and the workroom has three Fischer ceramic-core programmable storage heaters. An Economy 7 day/night tariff is in force for the property. We have solar photovoltaic panels fitted to both house and workroom totalling up to c. 4kw feed-in capacity. As well as lowering electricity consumption, this also produces Feed-In earnings in excess of £1000pa (actually £1070 in 2019, and index-linked). The workroom also has a solar thermal panel, so plenty of free hot water in spring/summer/early autumn.

There is an hourly daytime bus service to Shrewsbury (2-hourly to Oswestry) from the village two miles away, and there is a closed (by Beeching in the ‘60s) railway station in the village through which trains pass hourly, which has been the subject of a vigorous local re-opening campaign which, after many years, now looks like it may be successful in the fairly near future. Otherwise, the nearest stations are Shrewsbury (c.10m), Gobowen (c.11m) and Yorton (c.8m). Rail-based connectivity to Hereford/Cardiff, Aberystwyth, Telford/Birmingham, Wrexham/Chester, Merseyside, Manchester and North Wales is therefore reasonably good.

When we moved here 14 years ago we inherited an informal tenant with the field, a small local farmer who was using it to grow wheat and barley. The previous owners had agreed with him that in return for a low-ish rent he would not use chemicals. We extended this to exclude animal slurry.

He recently retired and asked us if a local smallholder who had lost the use of some land he had been renting could keep some cows on it. Obviously we weren’t keen but as we knew this person and he certainly looks after his cattle a lot better than the average animal exploiter we reluctantly agreed on a short-term basis, and have now told him that he has 3 months to make other arrangements.

We would like to complete the sale by mid-summer preferably, but absolutely by, say, August, so please, if you think you might be seriously interested, call us on 07986 457523 and leave a message, we’ll call you back the same day.

If we haven’t heard from anyone who thinks this genuinely might be right for them, we have it in mind to instruct estate agents formally no later than mid-March, so please don’t delay if you want to come and have a look.