Friday, 14 September 2018

Juicing, Seed Harvesting, Shifting Seasons - Week 22 - The Polyculture Project

There is a tinge of autumn in the air. Autumn is my second favorite season, my first being the spring. I love the spring for its vigour and perfect urgency and I love the autumn for its satisfied sense of completion. Summer and winter and pretty good too, but to me they are just the build ups :)



Forest Garden


Plenty of fruit on the Mespilus germanica - Medlar. Medlar are a very reliable fruit tree, never failing to produce fruits that ripen towards the end of October and into December. They are a great choice of fruit tree for many gardens, particularly small gardens, as they are self-fertile, so you only need one tree. They are also pretty much free of pests and diseases and do not requiring regular pruning beyond removing dead, diseased or overcrowded branches. 


The Paulownia tomentosa - Foxglove Tree we cut down 6 weeks ago is growing back fast with 6 shoots emerging and the tallest already reaching 70 cm. Summer time is not a great time to cut back the Paulownia as the soft herbaceaous regrowth does not have time to harden and will likely not survive the winter this year. I'll probably cut the regrowth back along with the surrounding Symphytum x uplandicum - Comfrey and use the material for sheet mulching a bed we are preparing for next spring planting. 


An old Pear tree in the forest garden has been host to fire blight over the last few years and the productivity has dropped noticeably. Fire blight is a contagious disease affecting apples, pears, and some other members of the family Rosaceae. The causal pathogen is the bacteria, Erwinia amylovora.


It's the time of year to harvest the seed and pod from Zanthoxylum simulans- Szechuan Pepper. The seeds eventually separate naturally leaving the dried red husk behind. If you put the dried material in a paper bag and shake vigorously you can speed up the separation.  The seed is pretty much flavorless so i don't see the point in using it but the husk is packed with flavor.  I normally just add the husks to a pepper grinder and grind it over any number of dishes. It makes an excellent spice but you should use it sparingly as it can be quite powerful. Its one of the 5 ingredients in Chinese Five Spice and used often in Szechuan cooking    


Foeniculum vulgare - Fennel still flowering in the forest garden. 



Aponia - Market Garden 


The warm temperatures can extend into late October in our climate and the vegetable garden can remain productive right up until the first hard frosts when all but the Brassica crops wither away. For now we still have reasonable harvests of basil, kale, chard, peas, tomatoes, beans and squash.




Ocimum basilicum - Basil on the brink of flowering. They always look their healthiest at this point and make the best tasting pesto :)    


Ezekiel, Victoria and Sophie checking for Cabbage White - Pieris brassicae eggs on the Brasica crops. Should be the last time of the season we check for these pest.  




Juicing 


We've been doing a fair bit of juicing this week. No, not injecting anabolic steroids into muscle, the other type of juicing, exerting intense pressure on fruits to extract the juice. It's been a great year for apples, probably the result of the wet and cool spring and early summer. We did not have the tool to crush the apples so we cored them and chopped them into quarters or smaller and pressed them.         


We tried crushing the apple pieces with a sledge hammer but it was not very effective.


The apple pieces go into the press  


We turn the press and the juice flows, well trickles, out of the bottom. 


Crushing the apples with a machine such as the one below is certainly something I would recommend as this method was very inefficient in extracting all of the juice.     



Nevertheless the apple juice was absolutely divine.



If you would like to create a forest garden and gain 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 

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





 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. 


 






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