Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Contour Beds, Forest Garden Layers and Wildlife. Week 10 - The Polyculture Project

So here's what we've been up to last week :)

The summer is upon us and although June is actually the wettest month of the year in our region, its often very hot and the rain falls intensely in short bursts or storms as you can see in the below clip.

Surveying in Ataraxia 

We've had a productive week in the gardens with some surveying in Ataraxia to mark out irrigation channels and new beds that we'll be planting out in the Autumn. 

 Emilce using the transit level to find contour lines for the irrigation channels. 

Angela and Victoria measuring the perimeter of the area. We then pegged out the various contour lines within the area starting from the highest point and looked for a contour line every 50cm drop in elevation, i.e, we made a topographic survey of the plot with 50 cm contour interval.  

After pegging out a line we clear the large shrubs from the area that will be the raised bed.  In this particular case this contour line will serve as a guideline that we will offset from to make equal distances between the beds. The beds will be planted with perennial polycultures of trees, shrubs and herbs and the area between the beds - the alleys - will be 3m wide and planted with various ancient grains such as Einkorn.  

Daniel trimming down Rosa canina -  Dog Rose shrubs. We'll be using all the biomass we clear from the area, and more, to pile up on the bed area and build up a nice thick layer of organic material.    

The bed area is then cut down with a mower and ready for decompaction with the broad fork before we start piling on the organic matter. We'll start the decompaction after a heavy rain as the soils in this garden are quite solid, full of stones and difficult to work with when dry. 

Plants in the biomass trial beds planted in April are establishing well. Here are Mulberry saplings. This cultivar Morus alba - 'Kokuso 27' was bred specifically for biomass to feed silk worms.

And here's the Symphytum x uplandicum 'Bocking 14' Comfrey patch. The first year it's best to leave the plants to establish and begin the cutting the following spring. We've been measuring comfrey yields from a patch in market garden that you can read more about here.

The Market Garden

Victoria putting up nets along the Paulownia tomentosa - Foxglove Tree trees for the cucumbers planted in between.

Daniel broad forking over a raised bed in the market garden that we are leaving fallow this season. We've chopping and dropping the vegetation that comes up in the bed and also mulching it thickly with vegetation from the garden.

Thanks again to Gligans Broadforks for donating this excellent hand made tool to us. 

The Forest Garden

Late May early June the forest garden fruits start piling in 

Rubus idaeus cv. - Raspberry just get better every year. I've taken to pruning half of the canes down to ground level in Autumn and leaving half standing. The result is a nice early crop at the beginning of Spring from the unpruned canes and late crop in September from the pruned canes.

The cherry orchard is planted to provide cherries from late May to mid June and these late cherries, the last of the crop are sweet and crunchy and my personal favourites.  

on the left and Morus alba - White Mulberry  on the right

Ribes rubrum - Redcurrants in the under story of Alnus cordata - Italian Alder   

planted next to a tyre pond which you can see Typha latifolia - Bull rush stems growing up from. You can also see Humulus lupulus - Common Hop  climbing the shrub on the left  and some Raspberries creeping in from a nearby patch and a wonderful little Aglais io - European peacock posing for the snap.

Here's some labelled photos of polycultures in various layers of the forest garden. Click on the plant names for profiles of the species. All of these plants are available from our nursery (seeds or plants) 

Shrub Layer

Herb Layer

Lower Canopy

Wildlife in and around the Gardens

White Storks are common in the area and nest just a few hundred meters from Ataraxia, the trial Garden. These birds spend spring - autumn here but do their wintering in Africa from tropical Sub-Saharan Africa to as far south as South Africa, or on the Indian subcontinent. 

Here's Lucanus cervus, best-known as Stag Beetle that I found on the pathway but placed on our grape vines for a photo shot. I hope she didn't mind.  This fascinating species is threatened in Europe. I found this citizen scientist website,European Stag Beetle Monitoring Network, that is looking to know more about the population size and asking people to submit observational records. If you are interested you can find out more here.

We had an email from feedspot last week informing us that we're currently 25th in the top 40 Ecology Blogs and Websites on the planet to follow in 2018.  You can find the list here, there are some great projects on there.

We even got this medal :) 

Upcoming Courses

Our next course is scheduled for October so if you would like to create a forest garden and gain some practical hands on experience do 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).

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

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

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