Monday, 7 May 2018

Vegetable Polycultures, Biodiversity Surveys and Plants. Week 5 - The Polyculture Project

Wow! can't believe how quick that week went. Here are some photos and news from the gardens this week :) 

Market Garden

We're continuing our polyculture trials in the Market Garden, and this year will be the 4th year of the study. You can find the results of previous year's studies here. The below image is the general garden layout which includes various vegetable and herb polycultures, and control beds where vegetables are planted in block sequences in a more traditional system.  You can find out more about the vegetable polycultures we grow here.

Angela placing the tomato stakes and bean tripods in the polyculture and control beds. We'll start to plant everything out next week.

We continue to experiment with our annual polyculture Epictetus.  Swede, parsnips and beetroot seedlings sown in strips are germinating, and we plan to plant out dwarf beans, kale and marigolds next week 

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An illustration of  Epictetus  It's basically a strip pattern of various vegetables from different plant families arranged to reduce pests and diseases, optimize space and nutrient share whilst respecting the individual plant needs for space and light.

In the home garden we're trying broad beans with garlic. Fabacea (Bean family) and Alliacae (Onion family) are not a recommended mix according to common companion planting knowledge, so far they appear quite friendly. 

Broad Beans and Garlic Companion Planting 

Forest Garden

Observed this week was Chicken of the woods - Laetiporus sp. growing from a fine old Damson Tree - Prunus insititia  in the hedgerow of the market garden. A choice edible mushroom and a very beautiful specimen. Last days for the Damson though.  

Lesser Celandine -  Ficaria verna flowering on the edge of the wildlife pond. 

The herb layer in the emerging forest garden  Melissa officinalis - Lemon balm in the foreground with  Allium schoenoprasum - Chives behind and Aronia melanocarpa - Black Chokeberry shrubs in the background.

Two favourite biomass plants Symphytum x uplandicum - Comfrey growing from the base of a  Paulownia tomentosa - Foxglove Tree stool. The four poles are last year growth. They reached over 2m in one season. 

Biodiversity Survey 

It was great to have Chris Kirby-Lambert back in town. Chris is working on the invertebrate diversity survey for the polyculture project. You can find the results of the May and June surveys from last year here

Chris Kirby-Lambert

Checking the sweep nets after sweeping the bed margins for invertebrates in Ataraxia - the perennial polyculture garden.   

Some  common invertebrates from the gardens

 The Bionursery 

An image here of Grape - Vitis vinifera cuttings taken in late winter of this year, buried 20 cm deep into a 50% river sand 50% sieved compost mix. Looks like a high strike rate this year. I take the cuttings at the same time I prune the vines. This 25 cm diameter 25 cm deep pot will take around 12 - 15 cuttings. Keep the mix moist like a wrung out sponge and 60 - 80 % of the cuttings should develop roots and be ready to plant out by the Autumn.   

I still can't get over the fact that Gingko biloba has been knocking around this planet for 100 million years or so !!  It would make a great exclamation - for example, upon seeing a plane crashing into a sky scraper - "Gin ko be lo ba"  or "oh my Gingko" or perhaps "for Biloba's sake" 

Upcoming Courses

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

Registration for our October 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.

  • Comment, like and share our content on social media.

Polyculture/Regenerative Landscape Design Webinars 

This season we are running live interactive sessions hosted on Zoom on a range of topics. You can register for a  webinar here.

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 :) 

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