Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Smut, Ducks in the Garden and Green Manures - Week 20 - The Polyculture Project


It's been a relaxed week in the gardens and as the summer draws to a close the harvest season is upon us with plenty to pick and process as we wind down into the Autumn.  


Aponia - The Market Garden 


We're irrigating the market garden once a week during the summer. This can be up to 15 weeks in a dry year but this year we have only needed to water 4 times so far, although I expect another 4 weeks of irrigation will be needed. Our irrigation method is somewhat unusual in that we have access to a mountain stream that we can divert into our gardens. We use the paths as irrigation channels and block the end with sacks full of sawdust thereby raising the water level so that the water permeates into the raised beds. Capillary action also serves to draw the water up into the soil. If we can run the water over night this is sufficient to provide water to all of the plants in the bed but the stream is also used by other growers so we'll also water from above with the watering cans. 


Plenty of greens from the garden 



Victoria, our resident pest and disease identifier, found we have a Mexican delicacy known as  huitlacoche growing in the gardens. Known as Smut and caused by the pathogenic fungus Ustilago maydis that colonizes corn cobs, it can be eaten usually as a filling, in quesadillas and other tortilla-based foods, and soups. See here for more pest and disease observations in the market garden  from Victoria.


The Forest Garden 


The grapes are starting to ripen. For wine it's best to leave the picking until mid September as they will sweeten up in the sunshine and will need less sweetener additive for optimal fermentation. For grape juice I prefer them a little on the tart side of things so now is great time to get juicing.   



We're growing 5 cultivars of Hazelnut - Corylus spp. in the gardens. 'Ata Baba' 'Edske Barcelona' and  'Badeovidim' have ripened already with 'Tonda gentile' and 'Rimski' coming in the first few weeks of September.  




Hazelnuts are really easy to grow and are generally pest and disease free but I did notice these little fellas stripping the leaves - not that I think it's a serious problem. I think they are Sawfly larvae insects of the suborder Symphyta 



https://balkanecologyproject.blogspot.com/2017/07/the-amazing-hazel-essential-guide-to.html


Ducks are probably my favourite animal for free ranging in the gardens. The last few years we have been keeping these farm ducks that look like they are from Mallard lineage, they don't have a specific breed name as far as I know.


 In the past we have reared Peking Ducks and found them to be quite quite destructive in the garden even to the point of eating our chilli peppers. These mallard type breeds do not make any such problems and seem to be more interested in shoveling around for slugs and snails which is great. They do a particularly good job in the nursery lifting pots to find the slugs. It's a bit annoying having to upright the pots but worth it considering they take care of the slugs.  The down side is that some worms and frogs also end up as duck fodder, they obliterate the vegetation in the wildlife pond  and turn the pond water murky green. As mentioned above the garden plants are not threatened although they do have a voracious appetite for the leaves of Oxalis tuberosa ​ - Oca



We use the diverted stream to water the beds in the home garden too. The ducks love this and rumage around the irrigation channels picking off grubs and bugs that are flowing into the garden via the stream.



Ataraxia - Perennial Polyculture Trial Garden 


Over at Ataraxia, we've been watering the young trees for the second time this season, giving each tree approx 15 - 20 L of water.


Onobrychis viciifolia - Sainfoin is one of the plants we use for green manure. An ancient legume often overlooked by growers,  Sainfoin is an excellent bee plant and non-bloat causing legume which can be used as hay, or grazed in pastures alone or in a grass-legume mix. The plants deep roots can also assist with relieving compaction.


Another great green manure, this time a local native volunteer, is Hairy Vetch - Vicia villosa.  


This local mint Mentha longifolia is probably one the best local plants for attracting such a wide diversity of flying insects. The plant spreads quite aggressively via rhizomes so it's not a great companion in the productive beds but we certainly find a plenty of room for them around the gardens. They make a pretty good tea too.  




   
If you would like to create a forest garden and gain some practical hands on experience join us this Spring. 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.

We offer a diversity of plants and seeds for permaculture and forest gardens  including a range of fruit and nut cultivars. We Deliver all over Europe from Nov - March. Give a happy plant a happy home :) 


The Bionursery


http://www.thepolycultureproject.com/store/c2/Grow_your_Own_Polyculture_.html



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