Friday, 22 November 2019

Autumn in the forest garden, Starting a Allium nursery and Ducks around the garden - The Polyculture Project


It's been a gorgeous autumn so far, more like an extension of summer than autumn, however this week it's starting to cool down and we've finally received some welcome rain, albeit cold November rain. 



Starting an Allium Nursery 


We've been making some new raised beds for bulbs in the nursery . We cleared and leveled the area, built the frame with 20 cm wide pine planks and shoveled out 50 cm wide pathways between the beds using the pathway soil to fill the beds which were then topped them up with some top soil and compost from around the garden.


The ducks joined us for the work, foraging for grubs and bugs as we moved the soil and compost around.


We planted the beds with the following Allium spp. and should have them available from our nursery next year, (depending on how fast they establish) 

Allium neapolitanum - Daffodil Garlic
Allium sphaerocephalon - Round-Headed Leek
Allium atropurpureum - Dark Purple Onion
Allium stipitatum - Regel
Allium sp. - 'Gladiator'
Allium amplectens - Narrow Leaved Onion 
Allium cernuum - Nodding Onion  

We are already growing the following Allium spp. around the gardens. 
   

We've situated the beds in a gap between some mature cherries trees and a large Mulberry where they will receive at least 6-7 hrs a day of light during the growing season. The beds are laid out on contour so that we can use our flood irrigation system between the pathways to irrigate.



Forest Garden Plants 


The Zanthoxylum piperitum - Japanese Pepper Tree fruits have opened and shed their seed and it's a good time to harvest the red husks. They are easy to dry in a paper bag left on a window sill for a week or so and than placed into glass jars for storing. Pop the husks into a pepper grinder for a delicious spice on pretty much any savoury dish 


Foeniculum vulgare - Fennel  seed great in breads, teas, seasoning and left on the plant for the birds to eat over winter


Two of my favourite biomass plants Miscanthus x giganteus - Giant Miscanthus and Paulownia tomentosa - Foxglove Tree both capable of producing incredible quantities of biomass and very easy to propagate so suitable for broad scale plantings. Although the plants are drought tolerant, in my experience their ability to produce useful quantities of biomass does rely on adequate irrigation applied.

 

The warm autumn has confused the Chaenomeles speciosa - Jap. Quince (left) and it has started to produce blossoms along with the ripe fruits. The warm weather has also prolonged the fruiting of our Cornus mas - Cornellian Cherry (right). 


If there is one plant you can rely on to provide nectar and pollen late in the season and keep flowering until buried in snow it's Erigeron annus . This annual plant, originally from across the pond,  has quite a bad rap, and is considered a noxious weed due to its habit of colonising disturbed soils, but its quite welcome in our gardens where it grows alongside the bare earth pathways and between the border rocks. The flowers attract a variety of bees, as well as flies, including syrphid flies, bee flies and  tachinid flies Wasps, small butterflies and other insects also visit the flowers to a lesser degree, seeking nectar, as well as a few pollen-feeding beetles. 


Cornus kuosa - Korean Dogwood is establishing well in the forest garden. The plants are 9 years old, grown from seed and have yet to flower and produce fruit. These are great small trees for the lower canopy of the forest garden growing well in partial shade. 


Usually the leaves from our  Ficus carica cv. - Fig  fall after the first frost. This autumn, without frost, is the first time I recall seeing the leaves change colour as the chlorophyll degrades during leaf senescence to reveal the carotenoids. This is good for the tree as during this process nutrients are extracted from the leaves and stored in the roots over winter. 


The ducks are enjoying the mild autumn days before the winter cold sets in.


Our ducks free range in the garden most of the year but they can be a problem in early spring when they disturb the freshly sown beds and peck at the spring shoots of the emerging herbs. Based on my experience this year with our first brood of ducklings, it's also probably a good idea to keep the mother and young ducklings contained for the first 6-7 weeks as we lost 8 out of 10 of our ducklings around the garden. Some were probably taken by predators but a few got caught tangled in the shrubs and a few drowned in the ponds. 


Over on the east side plots our neighbour's horses are doing a great job at clearing the grasses in the fields. This annual grazing helps to keep the meadows diverse by prohibiting the tall, tussocky, coarse species of grass dominating. 



That's all for this week,  I hope you're all having a wonderful Autumn.



Upcoming Courses


If you would like to create a forest garden and gain some practical hands on experience come and join us in the Spring. We'll be covering site surveying, landscape design software, installing access, beds, irrigation channels, planting tree, shrub, herb and ground layers and wildlife ponds. All in 3 days! And plenty of follow up material to take away with you to digest slowly.


Design and Build - Forest Garden Course  - Regenerative Landscape Design Course


Registration for our April 2020 course is now open with 15% discount on accommodation and food fees when you register as a group (2 or more).


Polyculture - Forest Gardens - Permaculture - Regenerative Design Webinars 


Want to join us for one of our live webinars?  Forthcoming webinars include ;




Polyculture - Forest Gardens - Permaculture - Regenerative Design Webinars 





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

  • Consider joining us on for one our Courses or Webinars 
  • Comment, like and share our content on social media.





Would you like to be involved in the project? We are currently offering 1 - 6 month positions on our polyculture study.



Permaculture and Regenerative Design Internships 

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.

We also offer a range of products all year round from our Online Store 

Give a happy plant a happy home :) 


Monday, 28 October 2019

Autumn Giveaway- Take our Brief Survey to win a year of free webinars and forest garden seed packs.

Autumn Giveaway! We are looking to improve our forest garden/permaculture webinars to include quality content to reach more people both to help us spread the word and bring income for developing our project. Please can you take 2 minutes to fill out this brief questionnaire to help us workout how best to proceed?  As a thank you for your time, we will enter you into our Autumn Giveaway. 1st place will receive free webinars for a year and a pack of forest garden seeds. 2nd place will win a free webinar.


Simply fill out the form and share it in your social networks to be eligible for the draw and on the 25th November we will randomly select 2 names and publish the winners on our blog, along with the results of the questionnaire.

Thank you!








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

  • Consider joining us on for one our Courses or Webinars 
  • Comment, like and share our content on social media.



Would you like to be involved in the project? We are currently offering 1 - 6 month positions on our polyculture study.



Permaculture and Regenerative Design Internships 

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.

We also offer a range of products all year round from our Online Store 

Give a happy plant a happy home :) 


Sunday, 27 October 2019

Abnormal October, Forest Garden Seed Collecting, Mushroom Hunting, A New Forest Garden - The Polyculture Project

It's been a quiet month at the project now that the polyculture study crew left last month, although last week we had a great group join us for our Design n' Build Forest Garden Course that I'll be writing about in the coming weeks.



It has been an unbelievably abnormal hot and dry October here. For the first time I can recall we have not experienced an October night time low below 0 (although at time of writing there are still 5 nights to go) . The mean high temperature for our area in October based on 30 years of climate data is 13 C the mean low is 4 C and it has not dropped below 20 C all month.  According to the same data source, we can expect 8-9 days of rain in October with a total of 49 mm of rainfall throughout the month. We have had 0 mm of rainfall. It's quite surreal as it feels very much like summer but the trees are turning orange and dropping leaves. I guess the weather will change rapidly in the coming weeks with a wicked wind from the north and all of a sudden we will be in winter so for now I'll enjoy it while I can and keep picking tomatoes :)



Forest Garden Seed Collecting


Archie and I have been harvesting seeds from the trees and shrubs in the forest garden this month and sending out the seeds to our customers all over Europe. I've found that for many shrubs that ripen in the Autumn, sowing the seeds indoors within a few weeks of picking and cleaning them results in the seeds germinating without the need for stratification and the germination rates are very high.

Forest Garden Seed 
The reasoning behind this may be that the fruit tissue that envelops the seed contains an inhibitor to prevent the seed from germinating within the fruit and before the winter has passed. By cleaning off the tissue and sowing indoors where the temperature is always above 0 C the seed can bypass stratification altogether.  I find this works very well for all plants from Elaeagnaceae specifically Elaeagnus umbellata - Autumn Olive and plants from Rutaceae such as  Zanthoxylum piperitum - Japanese Pepper Tree as well as Chaenomeles speciosa - Jap. Quince but does not seem to work at all for seeds from Rosaceae or Cornaceae such as these Cornus mas - Cornellian Cherry seeds below.


Castanea sativa - Sweet Chestnut are already littering the ground in the gardens.  If you are looking to grow Castanea sativa - Sweet Chestnut from seed it is vital that you sow the seed as soon as they fall to ground as they will quickly dry out and lose their ability to germinate.  Our grow your own sponge plant Luffa aegyptiaca - Vietnamese Luffa  should ripen soon, turn dry and yellow-brown, after which I'll peel the skin to reveal the fibrous tissue underneath,  remove the seeds (for planting next year) wash out the sap, leave to dry, marvel at the structure, and then start using as a sponge.

 


Design and Create Webinars - Forest Gardens, Urban Gardens, Permaculture, Regenerative Farming      


We're hosting a range of webinars including how to create habitat to enhance biodiversity, how to design and build a forest garden, polyculture design software tutorials, regenerative farm and landscape design,  urban gardening and more. If you would like to be notified when our next webinar is coming up please add your email below and hit subscribe and we'll be in touch. You can also register here  for our upcoming webinars.





Forest Walk 


We went up in the mountain for a walk last week. I always enjoy the opportunity to learn from the forest and to see how plants arrange themselves in the wild. Of particular interest this trip was a  Rubus spp. ground cover that had formed a blanket of cover in the deep shade of the beech forest. I'm familiar with Rubus caesius - Dewberry that also grows well on the forest floor but this species had black shiny fruit more like a regular blackberry, sweeter than the Dewberry and formed a fuller cover.   


Unidentified Rubus sp. covering the beech forest floor. 


We also found a few Parasol Mushrooms - Macrolepiota procera - on the edge of the woods. These are one of my favourite edible mushrooms and taste delicious. They are very easy to identify and are not easily confused for poisonous species so great for the novice mushroom collector. There is one poisonous lookalike in north america Chlorophyllum molybdites and a smaller parasol Lepiota brunneoincarnata in Europe, but as long as you only pick mushrooms that have a cap larger than 10 cm in diameter you are safe.  


Prokope - A New Forest Garden


Thank you to the participants of our Design n' Build a Forest Garden Course for a lovely course, we really enjoyed hosting you here and getting started on a new forest garden.


The primary purpose of the garden is to grow a polyculture fruit orchard  providing a variety of fruit from July - October. Our goal is to encourage growth of existing biodiversity as much as possible and provide new habitat that enhances biodiversity. We are also aiming to utilise the slope of the land and existing water source to irrigate the garden.

I'll be writing about this garden with plenty of photos, maps and more detail in the coming weeks including the species we used , the fruit cultivars, access and irrigation layout and support habitat features. Here is a growth forecast illustration of Prokope, our new Forest Garden. 





Upcoming Courses


If you would like to create a forest garden and gain some practical hands on experience come and join us in the Spring. We'll be covering site surveying, landscape design software, installing access, beds, irrigation channels, planting tree, shrub, herb and ground layers and wildlife ponds. All in 3 days! And plenty of follow up material to take away with you to digest slowly.


Design and Build - Forest Garden Course  - Regenerative Landscape Design Course


Registration for our April 2020 course is now open with 15% discount on accommodation and food fees when you register as a group (2 or more).





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

  • Consider joining us on for one our Courses or Webinars 
  • Comment, like and share our content on social media.





Polyculture - Forest Gardens - Permaculture - Regenerative Design Webinars 


Want to join us for one of our live webinars?  Forthcoming webinars include ;




Polyculture - Forest Gardens - Permaculture - Regenerative Design Webinars 

Would you like to be involved in the project? We are currently offering 1 - 6 month positions on our polyculture study.



Permaculture and Regenerative Design Internships 

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.

We also offer a range of products all year round from our Online Store 

Give a happy plant a happy home :) 


Friday, 25 October 2019

The Polyculture Project 2019 - A Week by Week Diary and the Season in Pictures.

We're so grateful that people from all over the world join us for our polyculture study each year with so much enthusiasm and help us on our mission to develop and promote practices that provide food and other resources while enhancing biodiversity.  Each week I write a short record of what we got up to at the project. Here is the week by week diary from the season followed by the season in pictures.

Polyculture Study /Permaculture Internship 2019

Thanks x 1000 again to the crew of 2019, it was an absolute pleasure to host you here. 

Ronan Delente - Michael Krack - Leonie Steinherr - Ben Peirson - Lilly Clark - Martin Votava - Amy Brangwyn - Eileen Wylicil - Tobi and Christina.Ruchel - Karo Castro-Wunsch - Kiki Ami - Maria Cruz - Shahara Khaleque - Jolanda de Rooij - Paul Vdsande - Simon Leupi  - Eva Goldmann - Ryan Sapsed - Rowan Brooks - Joana de Melo Sampaio - Ezekiel Orba - Ranjetha Vijayakumar  - Chris Kirby Lambert - Peter Alfrey -  Mihaela Tzarchinska  - Philip Varionov - Lea Valfigueira

The awesome polyculture study crew of 2019 


Week by Week Updates of the Season

























 

Design and Create Webinars - Forest Gardens, Urban Gardens, Permaculture, Regenerative Farming      


We're hosting a range of webinars including how to create habitat to enhance biodiversity, how to design and build a forest garden, polyculture design software tutorials, regenerative farm and landscape design,  urban gardening and more. If you would like to be notified when our next webinar is coming up please add your email below and hit subscribe and we'll be in touch. You can also register here for our upcoming webinars.





The Season in Pictures





















Would you like to be involved in the 2020 Polyculture Study?  Registration is now open for  2 week - 6 month positions.



Permaculture and Regenerative Design Internships 

Upcoming Courses


If you would like to create a forest garden and gain some practical hands on experience come and join us in the Spring. We'll be covering site surveying, landscape design software, installing access, beds, irrigation channels, planting tree, shrub, herb and ground layers and wildlife ponds. All in 3 days! And plenty of follow up material to take away with you to digest slowly.

Design and Build - Forest Garden Course  - Regenerative Landscape Design Course


Registration for our April 2020 course is now open with 15% discount on accommodation and food fees when you register as a group (2 or more).





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

  • Consider joining us on for one our Courses or Webinars 
  • Comment, like and share our content on social media.





Polyculture - Forest Gardens - Permaculture - Regenerative Design Webinars 


Want to join us for one of our live webinars?  Forthcoming webinars include ;




Polyculture - Forest Gardens - Permaculture - Regenerative Design Webinars 

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.

We also offer a range of products all year round from our Online Store 

Give a happy plant a happy home :)