Sunday, 3 June 2018

Forest Garden Fruits, Wildflowers and Secondary Succession. Week 8 - The Polyculture Project

Can't quite believe it's late spring already, with trees full of cherries and mulberries, and shrubs full of currants and raspberries - there is no denying it :)   

Last week we welcomed Daniel and Emilce to the project who have escaped the winter in Argentina to join us :)  It's quite an international polyculture project crew pictured above with Angela - South Africa,  Daniel - Austria, Emilce - Argentina, Elise - Holland and Victoria - Belarus :)     

The Perennial Polyculture Garden - Ataraxia 

Emilce and Daniel chop and dropping one year growth of a green manure trial we started last year where we were assessing the most suitable method for bed preparation. You can find out more about that trial here and we'll be publishing the results of that trial in the upcoming summer newsletter next month.  

Installing the pond in the garden last spring caused inevitable disruption to the soil and plant life in the area. It always amazes me how fast these systems repair and with what elegant grace and beauty they carry out the process of secondary succession. Just one year on the disturbed soil is teaming with a diversity of flowering annuals and establishing perennials that are attracting a wide range of flying and ground dwelling invertebrates among other wildlife. 

The dominant plant that has emerged this season is Orlaya grandiflora - White Lace (thanks Victoria for the ID) a beautiful annual that I assume the seed of which has been lying dormant is the subsoil awaiting a chance to resurface. The only wild processes that I can think of that would cause such a disturbance to expose these dormant seeds are a tree uprooting during a strong wind or a herd of wild boar tearing through the top soil.      

Si tu id aeficas, ei venient. Ager somnia - "If you build it, they will come" Pond life quickly moves in and around the pond.     

The pond overflow swale we made during last years Regenerative Landscape Design Course is also developing well with the Trifolium repens sown into the basin forming a dense blanket of cover and the new plantings including  Sideritis scardica - Ironwort Rubus × loganobaccus - LoganberryRubus idaeus cv. - RaspberryMorus alba - White Mulberry and  Ficus carica cv. - Fig  settling in well.

Sophie mowing the pathways between the raised beds. The pathway vegetation consists of the original plants that inhabited this field before we established the beds. We mow the paths every 1-2 weeks in the growing seasons and use the trimmings for mulch. They appear to be a great source of biomass but the cuttings should be composted before applying directly to the beds to avoid spreading seeds around.

The Forest Garden

In late spring the living larder that is the forest garden is starting to stock up well. 

Fig tree planted on the drip line of a mature cherry

Blackcurrant in the under story of a plum tree 

The Mulberry trees have started to ripen. We have two Morus alba - White Mulberry trees in the forest garden, one lives up to name with white sweet fruit when ripe as seen in the photo below. The  other ripens lavender purple. The tree with purple fruit is remarkable in that the fruiting period can extend all the way through to late July if we don't have too many windy days.  For more info on Mulberry tree see a previous blog post here.   

Nimble juvenile Homo sapiens Archie and his pal Kaloyan browsing cherries in the garden.  

I've mistakenly identified the below plant as Cytisus scoparius for many years but thanks to Daniel who joined us last week I learned that the round stemmed shrub is most probably Spartium junceum, commonly known as Spanish broom, a close relative to the other brooms in the genera Cytisus and Genista. Cytisus is distinguishable by the square stems. 

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

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

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