Sunday 22 May 2016

Polyculture Project - Market Garden Study - Update 4

The rains and low temperatures continue here with regular downpours followed by some sunshine. A great time to plant out, with no need to worry about the young plants getting sun scorched or having to water them. The downside is that the squash seeds do not tolerate very wet conditions and it seems the majority of them have rotted in the ground.  The rain and low temps are also providing ideal conditions for around the clock feeding for the slugs and snails. Indeed the tiny slugs are tucking into our young plants, and it seems the partially decomposed straw we picked up from a nearby farm comes complete with slug eggs!  We'll keep an eye on this and may need to take action if our pest predators do not respond.

Kale transplants under slug attack

Planting Out

With the chance of frost behind us we've been planting out the tender annuals such as Basil, Chili, Aubergine and Tomatoes.

Basil seedlings grown in 30 x 50 x 15 cm trays are separated for planting out.

Looking forward to the new tomato cultivars this year including Anna Russian, Green Zebra, Ukranian Purple and Mirabel Yellow Cherry.

Tomatoes in the cloche ready for transplanting

Ute sorting the tomato cultivars so that we have an equal number of each in the polyculture bed and the control bed.

Here's the full list of tomato cultivars we're growing this year.

Common nameCodeColorMaturity
E, M , L
Genetic typeSizeShapeGrowthDisease
code (see below)
Rozava Magia T1Pink Indeterminate
Citrina T2YellowIndeterminate
Black Krim T3Black Red M-L - 69-90HeirloomLargeBeefsteakIndeterminate
Ukrainian Purple T4Purple M -75-90HeirloomMediumPlum Indeterminate
MarglobeT5RedM -75-90HeirloomSmallStandardIndeterminateBlight
Anna RussianT6Pink M -75-90HeirloomMediumHeart Indeterminate
Tigerella T7Orange M - 75Open PollinatedSmallRound IndeterminateAppears to be resistant to blight 
Green Zebra T8GreenM - 70–80Open PollinatedMediumStandardIndeterminate
Mirabel -Yellow CherryT9YellowCherryIndeterminate

Tomato Experiment

Dimo from Wastenomore has been in the lab knocking up all sorts of microbial magic including compost teas, mollasess and lactic acids.  I've been wondering just how effective are effective microorganisms??  So, we decided to make some simple trails to see for ourselves. We're running a short experiment to see how our tomatoes fare under a regime of various EM compared to without.

EM's from 

Pond Building 

We've tried various methods to line our pond over the years including a method called "gleying" where we lined the pond with a few tonnes of fresh cow manure and covered that with organic matter. This did not work, our porous soils contain very little clay which, I suspect, the gley method relies on.

The pond profile with various shelves and slopes  

Following the application of a few tons of cow manure topped with biomass 
We've ended up using a three ply polypropylene liner which works well, and with plenty of mild gradient within the pond we should be able to form a deep enough substrate for a range of emergent and deep marginal aquatic plants to establish. We're also planning on using the excess liner to create a marshy area on the banks.

Making final adjustments to the bank level before bringing in the water

The pond filling up with the first few plants settling in.

The Forest Garden

In the forest garden the trees and shrubs are filling with fruit and the meadow grasses have passed waist height. We cut pathways through the vegetation with a lawnmower and when we get a block of hot weather we'll cut 70% of the vegetation for hay (winter rabbit food).       

Wood Ants collecting Honeydew from Scale insects on one of the new Pear trees. The Scale insects will be feeding on the tree sap and the ants are "milking" the scale insects. The tree seems to be unaffected at the moment.... following.     

Photos from the Forest Garden

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