Sunday, 22 July 2018

Planning for Tree Planting, Biomass Plants, Growing Trees from Seed - Week 15 - The Polyculture Project

The summer is in full swing here and we are fortunate enough to have one of those rare seasons so far when the rains come just at the right time to keep everything fresh and full of vigor. Here's what we've been up to the gardens this last week and a few observations from the forest gardens. 

The Perennial Polyculture Trial Garden - Ataraxia 

This week we started the preparation for the next wave of planting in Ataraxia. For this section we are trying a different method of bed preparation.(for 5 methods of bed prepartion we tried last year see this blog post). We establish the tree row bed on contour and mow the bed pathway emptying the trimmings onto the adjacent bed area.  We'll also deposit biomass from other areas of the gardens onto the tree row bed to build up organic matter. We then spot mulch the precise location of where the trees will be planted with straw bales and place 5 L of compost full of young composting worms - Eisenia fetida - and the cocoons of these worms under each bale. By spring time the planting sites should be weed free with a nice layer of compost on the surface and a fine top soil tilth produced by the worm activity. We'll then fork over the area, dig the tree hole, plant the trees and use the bales to mulch the tree. Here you can see the bales spaced 4m apart, the ideal spacing for Corylus spp. - Hazelnut that we intend to plant here.      

I'm really pleased with how our new garden Ataraxia is coming along. There are fewer things better in life than taking an idea and literally watching it grow:) 

The biomass trial plantings are going well . Left to right below you can see Alnus cordata  - Italian Alder Paulownia tomentosa - Foxglove Tree - Miscanthus x giganteus - Giant Miscanthus - Morus alba - White Mulberry 

Here is the planting scheme for the trial beds. You can read more about this garden and our trials here
If you appreciate the study we are carrying out and the work we do please consider making a contribution to the project. Funding from people that see the value in what we are doing makes it possible for us to develop our project, paying for experts to carry out aspects of study that we cannot, such as biodiversity studies and soil analysis and provides us with the opportunity to focus on our mission to develop and promote practices that provide nutritious affordable food while enhancing biodiversity. You'll find some of the rewards we offer our patrons here.


Forest Garden

The first fruits are forming on a young Akebia quinata - Chocolate Vine that I planted by an IBC container (1000L water tank) to cover the harsh plastic and metal. Grown from seed approx 6 years ago this plant has made an excellent job of covering the container but has a penchant to intermingle with  Caragana arborescens - Siberian Pea Tree and Prunus insititia - Damson planted nearby. 

Prunus spinosa - Sloe  are packing fruit this year. I can't recall ever seeing so many fruits on these plants in the area. I'm guessing that it's the result of the hot and dry April we experienced this year.
One of the huge benefits of polyculture is that no matter what the weather decides to do in any given year something will thrive :)  
Prunus spinosa - Sloe

Here's a photo of the Prunus spinosa - Sloe blossom in the spring - early April

Prunus spinosa - Sloe

 This Alnus cordata  - Italian Alder was grown from a seed that I collected from a street tree in my old neighbourhood in South London. This is the first year the tree has produced fruits (most people refer to these as cones). Italian Alder is tolerant of pollution, dry soils and poor site conditions, making it a useful tree for landscaping a wide range of sites. It can grow in poor soils, compacted areas and soils with a high pH. Its resistance to wind make it an ideal plant for screening and windbreaks and it can also be planted in coastal regions. As with other Alnus species, Alnus cordata has the ability to associate with Bacteria, namely Frankia spp. and fix nitrogen from the air.

Permaculture Plant - Alnus cordata  - Italian Alder

If you would like to grow these plants from seed, the best time to harvest the fruits is in October or November (before they open). Place the "cones" on plate on the windowsill  for  3 - 4 weeks and when they open  place them in a paper bag and shake them. There are 100's of seed in each "cone". Sow the seeds straight away into a tray on the windowsill or greenhouse and they should germinate by the spring.   

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