Now that the summer holiday is nearing its end, it’s time to start planning for the winter. And this means, preparing to get in a couple of pigs.
Here’s the annual pig plan, which I reckon should work for any microholding with a vegetable plot of 20 square metres or more. Unless, of course, you feel you have to grow winter crops, such as sprouts, kale and leeks. I’m not overly fussed about them, nor do I care for harvesting in the freezing cold, though I’ll admit I did enjoy picking leeks and sprouts on Christmas day a few years back.
Not anymore, though, because I have NO winter veg whatsoever (unless I buy it from someone else). Why? Because of my pig plan. It works as follows:
|September||Harvest the last of the year’s veg|
|October||Buy two 8-week old weaners|
|Jan/Feb||Take the pigs to slaughter|
|March||Prep the plot for the year’s veg|
Not sure this really justifies using a table, but there we go. That’s the plan and, so far, it works fairly well. The key elements are these:
- The pigs eat the vegetable matter left in the beds, including weeds and weed seeds (though they don’t seem too keen on potatoes and rhubarb crowns)
- The pigs dig the whole plot over, saving you the hassle of doing it yourself
- The pigs enrich the soil with their ‘waste’
- Because they are only on the plot when it’s cold, the smell is kept to a minimum
- The pigs only occupy the plot for a short time, leaving it free for growing vegetables for the rest of the year
- They don’t eat ALL the weed seeds, and some roots are deeper than they can dig. Also, they tend to leave the edges of the plot due to the electric fence, meaning these need serious weed control the following spring
- They make the plot very muddy and bumpy, so it does take some work to get it back into shape (putting chickens on it during March can help)
- They choose one area for their toilet (usually furthest from their house) which will need digging over
- They do still smell… thankfully I have great neighbours so no one complains
Personally, I think the positives out way the negatives. And besides, I’ve only got a small area to work with, so unless I did this, I wouldn’t keep pigs at all!
There is still a lot of prep to do before I get them. The main items are a new pig ark (the old one was borrowed and a tree fell on it!), checking all electric fencing equipment, sourcing the food (price check, basically), and inspecting all other equipment (such as trailer and trough). Oh, yeah, and finding someone who’ll have pigs ready for sale in October!