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Milkwood Blog

Pig Tractor update: from Orchard to Market Garden

April 3, 2013 | Pigs | 8 comments | Author:

1304 market garden pigs - 1

The Holistic Orchard site is now officially ‘tractored’. Our family of pigs have done a sterling job of turning this site from wonky pasture into well-plowed and manured soil.

Next up at the orchard site, we’re planting a green manure seedmix to fix nitrogen, generate lush biomass and generally ‘hold the space’ back from opportunistic weeds until the winter installation of this site begins.

So the pigs have done a great job of prepping this area. Thank you, ladies! Next up, they’re on to the market garden… 

Pigs tractoring the Holistic Orchard site
Pigs tractoring the Holistic Orchard site
The Holistic Orchard site in the midst of the pig tractor operation, patch by patch
The Holistic Orchard site in the midst of the pig tractor operation, patch by patch
Orchard site at the end of its tractoring phase, with green manures jumping, and forest garden students designing...
Orchard site at the end of its tractoring phase, with green manures jumping, and forest garden students designing…
Next up, the market garden dregs...
Next up, the market garden dregs…

The market garden at Milkwood Farm has been an amazing place that has produced a ridiculous amount of good clean food this season, under Michael’s watchful eye (and his hard work, and his helpers hard work, and so on).

But all seasons come to an end, and so too for our market garden. To try and take an extra step forward with our market garden fertility program, right now we’re sowing the whole market garden to green manures.

So we’ve harvested the last of the tomatoes, we’ve raised the last of the spuds and pulled down the bean banjo. Most of the pumpkins (but not the ones we’re growing for TEDx Sydney’s grow it local program) are harvested also, and every carrot has arisen.

In short, it’s over for the market garden for this season. So bring in the pigs.

The three girls (we dont really name them as they will soon all be bacon, though one is called cranky for obvious reasons) were delighted to oblige. Beyond delighted, in fact.

Happy as pigs in mud, even.

They skipped and they grunted and they snuffled and they wallowed.

One of them lay down on her side and made a slow progress forwards by pushing with her hind trotters, so she could better eat her way along the remains of a row of chinese cabbage, while remaining in a reclining position.

By the end of this week, all things being equal (including the arrival of the tractor mechanic) the whole market garden should be deep ripped and seeded to a green manure mix, ready to see winter through as a glowing green carpet, which we’ll then dig in in Spring.

But until then, it’s piggy time. They’re nuzzling for spare potatoes and generally turning over the ground, manuring as they go. Even though they wont be there for long, it’s the incremental advantage thing, and also the complimentary functions thing coming into play…

1304 market garden pigs - 6

1304 market garden pigs - 7

So the pigs are fattening on the harvest’s leavings, next year’s planting ground is building fertility and nutrients, and all is well at Milkwood Farm.

Hooray for Autumn, and for stacking functions wherever you can. The ongoing integration of a small farm system rocks my world. And if it means more bacon for winter, so much the better.

>> More posts about raising pigs in a small farm system




8 COMMENTS


  • Emily Heath April 3, 2013 at 7:06 am | Reply

    Beautiful pigs, I’m glad they’ve had healthy lives.


  • Andrew Hearne April 3, 2013 at 7:11 am | Reply

    Hi guys. Great to see your piggies having fun doing what they do best. Interested to know what will be in your mix for your cool season green manure planting.


  • tokyobling April 4, 2013 at 12:46 am | Reply

    Fantastic! If only all farms were run like this…


  • afarmingartist April 4, 2013 at 11:16 am | Reply

    Great work.


  • carolinatodos April 5, 2013 at 12:42 am | Reply

    Wonderful! I hope to have pig tractors someday


  • mac April 5, 2013 at 7:54 am | Reply

    Pigs and garden – with the greatest of care!
    Pigs don’t only eat what we would like them to eat eg crop leftovers but also worms. They love them! The turning action can also result in change of crumb struture of the soil which is obviously not what we want.
    Our garden just about never rests;one crop out, add compost and the next seeding in. We never turn, just loosen from time to time and add compost, mulch…spring, summer, autumn and winter.


    1. milkwoodkirsten April 5, 2013 at 7:59 am | Reply

      These pigs are preceding a deep rip to breakup the hard pan beneath that is a legacy of this spot being a plowed Lucerne field in days gone by… We won’t be doing this every year , but if we don’t want carrots that grow sideways after they hit the pan next year, we gotta change the substructure


  • Shar April 5, 2013 at 1:33 pm | Reply

    Re post no. 2 from Andrew – can you tell us what you are planting in your green manure mix? Thank you – love your blog :)



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