Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Creating a Raised Bed, Summer Fruits and Wild Rivers - Week 13 - The Polyculture Project

We are easing into the summer this year with a lovely rainy June that so far has extended into July, while still experiencing plenty of dry and warm spells to enjoy in the gardens.
   

This week we said goodbye to Angela Rice who has been with us for the last 3 months and has without doubt has been one of the most amazing organisms in the gardens :) Thank you and we hope to see you soon. Farewell also to Poppy, Angela's dog that she adopted during her stay here.    

The Gardens 


We welcomed some new residents to the garden this week -  Don, Gal and H (please comment below  if you get the reference)  are 4 weeks old. The previous ducks we've had have been an absolute pleasure both in the garden and in the kitchen. We're hoping to overwinter Don, Gal and H for breeding.    


We also go 4 little tiddlers (5 day old when they arrived) 


Angela putting up nets for a late sowing of peas we're growing for pea shoots.



Ataraxia - Making Raised Beds 


We made a raised bed in Ataraxia last week, the method we used is a great way to create the perfect environment for your incoming plants without having to dig the soil but ideally you should make the bed 6 - 12 months before planting so that all of the material is well decomposed and the ground layer of vegetation does not interfere with your new plants. Here's a step by step guide to how we made it.

The bed design is 1.3 m wide with 50 cm pathways around it. We pegged out the area beforehand and established the bed on contour. The next step is to cut the existing vegetation to ground level and leave it on the surface of the bed area and then fork over the ground well. A broadfork is a great tool for this and I never tire of promoting Gligan Homemade broadforks, who kindly donated the below tool you can see Emilce using for our project. It's best to create your raised bed just after heavy rains so that the soil is well hydrated before it is covered, otherwise soak the ground well first before making the bed.


Having all of the materials nearby is very useful.  We gathered mature horse manure, not so mature cow manure, some moth eaten rugs, scythed hay from the surrounding area, cardboard and straw. 


After soaking the ground well, cutting the vegetation and aerating the soil we lay down a weed preventive layer which in this case are old wool and cotton rugs and blankets. Landscapers mat, cardboard or newspaper can also be used here. The idea of this layer is to prevent the existing vegetation from growing through the mulch. The ground layer of vegetation starved of light will decompose adding extra fertility to the bed.


Next we're placing partially decomposed manure over the rug


We add a layer of soaked cardboard on top of the manure and a layer of  cut vegetation from the surrounding area on top of the card 



One last layer of manure and than top it off with thick layer of straw and it's complete.

The order you make the layers and the number of layers are up to you. The most important things to remember are soaking the ground well before starting, forking the ground over, and adding a weed barrier. The finish can also be a layer of manure and sowing a green manure into the compost is a nice touch especially if you are making the beds during a time where some rain will be expected to help the seeds germinate. The green manure can be turned in a later date or you can plant directly into the cover.   For more green manure and cover crops see here 

Here you can see the finished bed. We established the bed on contour so the raised bed will also promote even distribution of water drainage during the heavy rains.  We mowed the vegetation either side of the bed for ease of access. This bed will be ready for planting by the spring.  

You can see the raised bed in the background here. The beds in the foreground are swales that catch the runoff from a pond to the left of the photo.  


River Walk 


Had a walk up to a local river, Leshnitza


I've never seen the river so high and turbulent, the result of this extremely wet June. 


A diversity of butterflies enjoy the  Origanum vulgare - Pot Marjoram growing wild by the riverside 




I was really pleased to find a number of Wild Cherry - Prunus avium trees while on the river walk. These fruits ripen much later than the garden cultivars and each tree provides fruit of different taste some slightly bitter some very sweet but all with a density of flavour you don't find in the garden cultivars. I collected seed from the trees and have sown them into trays. I find for many tree and shrub species sowing seed straight from the ripe fruit (after cleaning) increases the chance for germination and many will germinate before the Autumn. We'll see about these ones.    



Would you like to learn how to design and build a forest garden? 



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




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