Sunday, 22 July 2018

Planning for Tree Planting, Biomass Plants, Growing Trees from Seed - Week 15 - The Polyculture Project

The summer is in full swing here and we are fortunate enough to have one of those rare seasons so far when the rains come just at the right time to keep everything fresh and full of vigor. Here's what we've been up to the gardens this last week and a few observations from the forest gardens. 




The Perennial Polyculture Trial Garden - Ataraxia 



This week we started the preparation for the next wave of planting in Ataraxia. For this section we are trying a different method of bed preparation.(for 5 methods of bed prepartion we tried last year see this blog post). We establish the tree row bed on contour and mow the bed pathway emptying the trimmings onto the adjacent bed area.  We'll also deposit biomass from other areas of the gardens onto the tree row bed to build up organic matter. We then spot mulch the precise location of where the trees will be planted with straw bales and place 5 L of compost full of young composting worms - Eisenia fetida - and the cocoons of these worms under each bale. By spring time the planting sites should be weed free with a nice layer of compost on the surface and a fine top soil tilth produced by the worm activity. We'll then fork over the area, dig the tree hole, plant the trees and use the bales to mulch the tree. Here you can see the bales spaced 4m apart, the ideal spacing for Corylus spp. - Hazelnut that we intend to plant here.      



I'm really pleased with how our new garden Ataraxia is coming along. There are fewer things better in life than taking an idea and literally watching it grow:) 


The biomass trial plantings are going well . Left to right below you can see Alnus cordata  - Italian Alder Paulownia tomentosa - Foxglove Tree - Miscanthus x giganteus - Giant Miscanthus - Morus alba - White Mulberry 



Here is the planting scheme for the trial beds. You can read more about this garden and our trials here
If you appreciate the study we are carrying out and the work we do please consider making a contribution to the project. Funding from people that see the value in what we are doing makes it possible for us to develop our project, paying for experts to carry out aspects of study that we cannot, such as biodiversity studies and soil analysis and provides us with the opportunity to focus on our mission to develop and promote practices that provide nutritious affordable food while enhancing biodiversity. You'll find some of the rewards we offer our patrons here.

 



Forest Garden


The first fruits are forming on a young Akebia quinata - Chocolate Vine that I planted by an IBC container (1000L water tank) to cover the harsh plastic and metal. Grown from seed approx 6 years ago this plant has made an excellent job of covering the container but has a penchant to intermingle with  Caragana arborescens - Siberian Pea Tree and Prunus insititia - Damson planted nearby. 


Prunus spinosa - Sloe  are packing fruit this year. I can't recall ever seeing so many fruits on these plants in the area. I'm guessing that it's the result of the hot and dry April we experienced this year.
One of the huge benefits of polyculture is that no matter what the weather decides to do in any given year something will thrive :)  
 
Prunus spinosa - Sloe

Here's a photo of the Prunus spinosa - Sloe blossom in the spring - early April

Prunus spinosa - Sloe

 This Alnus cordata  - Italian Alder was grown from a seed that I collected from a street tree in my old neighbourhood in South London. This is the first year the tree has produced fruits (most people refer to these as cones). Italian Alder is tolerant of pollution, dry soils and poor site conditions, making it a useful tree for landscaping a wide range of sites. It can grow in poor soils, compacted areas and soils with a high pH. Its resistance to wind make it an ideal plant for screening and windbreaks and it can also be planted in coastal regions. As with other Alnus species, Alnus cordata has the ability to associate with Bacteria, namely Frankia spp. and fix nitrogen from the air.


Permaculture Plant - Alnus cordata  - Italian Alder

If you would like to grow these plants from seed, the best time to harvest the fruits is in October or November (before they open). Place the "cones" on plate on the windowsill  for  3 - 4 weeks and when they open  place them in a paper bag and shake them. There are 100's of seed in each "cone". Sow the seeds straight away into a tray on the windowsill or greenhouse and they should germinate by the spring.   



http://www.thepolycultureproject.com/store/c2/Grow_your_Own_Polyculture_.html
Grow your own permaculture polycultures -  seed, tubers, bulbs and cuttings

If you would like to create a forest garden and would like some practical hands on experience take a look at our course coming up this Autumn. We'll be covering site surveying, landscape design software, installing access, beds, irrigation channels, planting tree, shrub, herb and ground layers and making a small wildlife pond. All in 3 days! And plenty of follow up material to take away with you to digest slowly.   

Forest Garden Course 



 If you appreciate the work we are doing you can show your support in several ways.

  • Sales from our nursery go towards supporting the project. You can find a variety of plants or seeds from our BioNursery here that you can purchase to build your own  productive bio-diverse gardens.  
  • Join us on one of our upcoming Courses and enjoy an educational adventure in rural Bulgaria where you'll be learning how to create regenerative landscapes producing food and other resources while enhancing biodiversity. 


 




Sunday, 15 July 2018

Summer Herbs and Fruits and Wildflowers in the Polyculture Veg Beds and Forest Garden. Week 14 - The Polyculture Project

Shifting down gears as we go into summer with plenty of observing, harvesting and eating the harvest this week. The gardens are doing an excellent job of turning light, carbon dioxide and water into food and we're doing a good job of appreciating that :)


Market Garden


Walking around the gardens on a sunny summer morning following a night of heavy rain you can certainly sense the garden's will to grow. Symphytum x uplandicum - Comfrey with vegetables polycultures in the background 



The polyculture beds  


We're pleased to again be offering a modest selection of vegetables and fruits to Trustika Food co-op. Dylan is handling the orders this year and here he is picking pears for orders. 


Trustika is an excellent example of connecting food producers with consumers. The food co-op buying and selling takes place on an ingenious piece of database design using google sheets by Borislav Dimitrov who also manages the food co-op. Using their gmail accounts producers list, consumers order and everything is delivered to a central pick up point. Elegant :)     

Garden produce picked and ready for delivery 


Foeniculum vulgare - Fennel   planted on the perimeter of the polyculture beds. An excellent plant for beneficial insects and great kitchen herb too.


The green patch with various plants growing have emerged from a cow manure deposits that were put on this meadow outside our market garden during the winter. Amazing to see the variety of seeds that have germinated in the manure, including a number of squash plants that are running rampant.     


Forest Garden 


Possibly one of the hardiest figs on the planet was developed here in Bulgaria. A cultivar named 'Michurinska 10' is commonly grown here at altitudes above 1000 m elevation in areas that receive extreme winters lows of below -20. Here you can see the breba crop of figs already ripe by early July.


About 5 years ago I collected seed from the parent of the below plant standing proud in the glasshouse borders of RHS Wilsley Gardens in the UK. The borders were designed by one of my favorite garden creators Piet Oudolf. The plant is Glycyrrhiza yunnanensis -Yunnan Liquorice and this year it has flowered and set seed for the first time :)  I've not been able to confirm that the plant is edible, however, being a relative of Glycyrrhiza glabra the plant used to make Liquorice it may well be.  



Apple tree in the home forest garden is looking good this year 


Prunella vulgaris - Self-heal is one of favourite edible summer herbs. The young leaves and stems can be eaten raw in salads and the whole plant can be boiled and eaten These plants are perennial but in my experience never survive more than a few years. Gratefully, they self seed quite easily popping up in various spots in the gardens including the lawns.   


Morus alba - White Mulberry Still fruiting well into July. The fruits are larger and sweeter than the early ripening fruit



Young trees in the bionursery are doing well with all the rain and sunshine. Here we have classic bee trees  Tetradium danielii - Korean Bee Tree  and Albizia julibrissin - Silk tree with Symphytum x uplandicum - Comfrey
planted below.


Hibiscus syriacus - Rose of Sharon flowering. A great summer flowering shrub with edible flowers and very suitable for hedging. Another plant that will feature in our upcoming bee garden, Eudaimonia.  



Seed pods of  Lunaria rediviva - Perennial Honesty. Excellent bee plant for early spring. Another plant with edible relatives Lunaria annua - Annual honesty, but I cannot find any account that L.rediviva is edible. 


Wild  Saponaria officinalis - Soapwort in a field behind Ataraxia. I noticed a large number of Ladybirds - Coccinellidae on the plants 


If you would like to create a forest garden and would like some practical hands on experience take a look at our course coming up this Autumn. We'll be covering site surveying, landscape design software, installing access, beds, irrigation channels, planting tree, shrub, herb and ground layers and making a small wildlife pond. All in 3 days! And plenty of follow up material to take away with you and digest slowly.   


Forest Garden Course 


 If you appreciate the work we are doing you can show your support in several ways.

  • Sales from our nursery go towards supporting the project. You can find a variety of plants or seeds from our BioNursery here that you can purchase to build your own  productive bio-diverse gardens.  


 






We offer a range of plants and seeds for permaculture and forest gardens from our plant nursery including a range of fruit and nut cultivars. Delivery to all over Europe available from Nov - March




Saturday, 14 July 2018

Pest and Diseases in the Market Garden

Our chief strategy to deal with pest and disease in the vegetable gardens is to reduce plant stress levels as much as possible. We achieve this by well timed planting out, providing adequate irrigation and building healthy soils with diverse microbiology to nurture the plants. 


Other steps we take are to try many cultivars and stick with the ones that perform best, grow our own plants from seed and only select the healthiest seedlings (for some species we save seed from the best performing plants). We also plant in polycultures to make it more difficult for pests to locate our plants and we introduce various habitats in the gardens for pest predators such as hedgehogs, birds, snakes, lizards, frogs, toads, ladybirds, wasps, mantids and beetles. Finally we practice manual pest removal for certain pests such as Cabbage White eggs and  Brassica Bug adults. Our aim with pest and disease organisms is not to entirely eliminate them but to reduce them to a point where they do not make significant damage.  

Victoria Bezhitashvili who has joined us for the polyculture study this year has been observing and recording pests and diseases found within the market garden specifically those that interact with the annual vegetable crops. Below you can see a record of her initial observations made in April-May. Another set of observations will be recorded later in the year to follow up.   Many thanks Victoria for this report!


Pest and Disease Records - Annual Vegetable Crops in the Polyculture Beds - 2018 by Victoria Bezhitashvili


CROPFAMILYPROBLEMLEVEL OF DAMAGE
(IMPACT ON PRODUCTIVITY)
April - May
Kale
Brassica oleracea var. sabellica
BrassicaceaeWhitefly (Aleyrodes proletella) - most plants
Leaf miner – some plants
Caterpillars of Cabbage white butterfly (Pieris rapae) - some plants
Not significant separately, combined effect can be significant




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Leaf miner (unidentified) on kale plant

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Newly hatched caterpillars of Cabbage white butterfly (Pieris rapae) on kale plant


CROPFAMILYPROBLEMLEVEL OF DAMAGE
(IMPACT ON PRODUCTIVITY)
April - May
Beans
(Phaseolus vulgaris), bush beans and climbing beans
FabaceaeBacterial bean blight (prob. Halo blight, caused by Pseudomonas syringae pv. phaseolicola)– some plants
Eaten leaves (prob. True bugs)
prob. Black bean aphid Aphis fabae, farmed by ants
Not significant
Not significant
Not significant


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Bacterial bean blight (prob. Halo blight, caused by Pseudomonas syringae pv. phaseolicola)


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Bean leaves, eaten by prob. true bugs




CROPFAMILYPROBLEMLEVEL OF DAMAGE
(IMPACT ON PRODUCTIVITY)
April - May
Maize (Zea mays), 2 different varietiesGramineae One variety - stunted growth in the shaded area, chlorosis (pale colour)
The third variety – new leaves curled, distorted, pale, prob. virus – third of plants
Potentially Significant
Potentially Significant


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Distorted new corn leaves, prob. virus


CROPFAMILYPROBLEMLEVEL OF DAMAGE
(IMPACT ON PRODUCTIVITY)
April - May
Early Potatoes SolanaceaeEaten leaves (prob. True bugs)
Wilted leaves, spots, necrosis of old leaves (Late blight, caused by the fungus-like oomycete pathogen Phytophthora infestans)
Not significant
Not significant at the moment of check, potentially can have a negative impact

                                                                                 
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Wilted potatoes leaves, spots, necrosis (Late
blight - Phytophthora infestans)


CROPFAMILYPROBLEMLEVEL OF DAMAGE
(IMPACT ON PRODUCTIVITY)
April - May
Sunflower
Helianthus annuus
AsteraceaeEaten leaves (prob. True bugs)
Those near Paulownia – chlorosis (prob. N deficiency or lack of water), spots (secondary fungal infection), necrosis
Not significant
Can be significant


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Sunflower leaf



CROPFAMILYPROBLEMLEVEL OF DAMAGE
(IMPACT ON PRODUCTIVITY)
April - May
Parsnip
Pastinaca sativa
ApiaceaeMaggot of celery leaf mining fly Euleia heraclei
– one plant
Eaten leaves (prob. True bugs)
Not significant
Not significant


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Maggot of celery leaf mining fly Euleia heraclei
on a parsnip plant



CROPFAMILYPROBLEMLEVEL OF DAMAGE
(IMPACT ON PRODUCTIVITY)
April - May
Beetroot
Beta vulgaris
ChenopodioideaeEaten leaves (not specific pest)
Cercospora leaf spot, caused by the fungus Cercospora beticola
Not significant
Not significant, potentially can have an impact on beet size


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Cercospora leaf spot on beetroot, caused by the fungus Cercospora beticola




CROPFAMILYPROBLEMLEVEL OF DAMAGE
(IMPACT ON PRODUCTIVITY)
April - May
Broccoli
Brassica oleracea var. italica
Brassicaceae Whitefly (Aleyrodes proletella) – all plants
Aphids (green (Cabbage aphid -Brevicoryne brassicae) and black)
The harlequin cabbage bug (Murgantia histrionica)
Cabbage Curculio - a small weevil (Ceutorhynchus rapae)
Caterpillars of Cabbage white butterfly (Pieris rapae) - some plants
Potentially Significant on some plants
Combined effect can be significant
Older plants are more resilient

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Brassica or Cabbage Bug (Eurydema oleracea)

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Whitefly (Aleyrodes proletella) on broccoli plant


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Necrosis by prob. heat wave on young broccoli plant

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Cabbage Curculio - a small weevil
(Ceutorhynchus rapae) on broccoli plant


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Aphids on broccoli plant eaten by Ladybug


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Caterpillar of Cabbage white butterfly (Pieris rapae) on broccoli plant


CROPFAMILYPROBLEMLEVEL OF DAMAGE
(IMPACT ON PRODUCTIVITY)
April - May
Squash
Cucurbita pepo
Cucurbitaceae Powdery mildew Erysiphe cichoracearum – mild on old plants, prominent on young
Leaf miner – one plant
Uniform chlorosis on some plants – prob. N deficiency
Not significant

Not significant
Not significant



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Powdery mildew Erysiphe cichoracearum on young squash plant

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Uniform chlorosis on old leaves (N deficiency??), squash plant




CROPFAMILYPROBLEMLEVEL OF DAMAGE
(IMPACT ON PRODUCTIVITY)
April - May
Basil
Ocimum basilicum
LamiaceaeChlorosis, wilting, stunted growth, spots– replanting, deficiency, bacteria (???)
Prob. Downy mildew Peronospora belbahrii/ too weak plants during replanting
Potentially Significant

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Weak and damaged basil plants, multiple influencing factors



CROPFAMILYPROBLEMLEVEL OF DAMAGE
(IMPACT ON PRODUCTIVITY)
April - May
Turnip
Brassica rapa subsp. Rapa
Swede
Brassica napobrassica)
Brassicaceae Brassica or Cabbage Bug (Eurydema oleracea)
Chlorosis and necrosis of old leaves – investment into roots
Dark leaf spot - prob. Alternaria brassicicola
Not significant
Not significant

Not significant



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Brassica or Cabbage Bug (Eurydema oleracea)
on turnip plant (grown next to broccoli)


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Senescence of old leaves on turnips



CROPFAMILYPROBLEMLEVEL OF DAMAGE
(IMPACT ON PRODUCTIVITY)
April - May
Tomato
Solanum lycopersicum
Solanaceae.Chlorosis and necrosis of old leaves, spots – late blight, caused by the fungus-like oomycete pathogen Phytophthora infestansPotentially can be significant, previous experience proved no impact on fruits

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Late blight on tomatoes, caused by the fungus-like
 oomycete pathogen Phytophthora infestans



CROPFAMILYPROBLEMLEVEL OF DAMAGE
(IMPACT ON PRODUCTIVITY)
April - May
Cucumber
Cucumis sativus
Cucurbitaceae Necrosis of leaves edges, spots holes – prob. downy mildew (caused by the oomycete Pseudoperonospora cubensis)
Green caterpillar (only nest?)
Not significant


C:\Users\user\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCache\Content.Word\IMG_20180609_171451.jpg
prob. downy mildew (caused by the
oomycete Pseudoperonospora cubensis) on cucumber plant



C:\Users\user\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCache\Content.Word\IMG_20180611_110913.jpg
prob. downy mildew (caused by the oomycete
 Pseudoperonospora cubensis) on cucumber plant

If you would like to create a forest garden and would like some practical hands on experience take a look at our course coming up this Autumn. We'll be covering site surveying, landscape design software, installing access, beds, irrigation channels, planting tree, shrub, herb and ground layers and making a small wildlife pond. All in 3 days! And plenty of follow up material to take away with you and digest slowly.   


Forest Garden Course 

 If you appreciate the work we are doing you can show your support in several ways.

  • Sales from our nursery go towards supporting the project. You can find a variety of plants or seeds from our BioNursery here that you can purchase to build your own  productive bio-diverse gardens.  


 






We offer a range of plants and seeds for permaculture and forest gardens from our plant nursery including a range of fruit and nut cultivars. Delivery to all over Europe available from Nov - March