Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Asparagus, Slowworms, Duck Havoc and an upcoming Spring Open Day

Here's what we've been up to in the gardens last week. 

But first just to let you know we've revamped our Online Store where you can find Forest Garden/ Permaculture Plants, Seeds, Cuttings, Bulbs, Rhizomes and Polyculture Multi-packs along with digital goods and services such as Online Courses, Webinars, eBooks, and Online Consultancy and finally we've added a Bulk Fruit and Nut Tree order form for Farms, Orchards, Nurseries, and Large Regenerative Landscape Projects. If there is anything in the store you would like to see but is not there, please let us know. We hope you enjoy the store and find something you like :) It's your purchases that keep our Project going. Thank you. Enter Our Store Here

Plants, Seeds, eBooks, Consultancy, Bulk Fruit and Nut Tree Orders for Permaculture, Polyculture, Forest Gardens and Regenerative Landscapes.

Market Garden

After a three year wait the Asparagus officinalis - Asparagus spears from our perennial vegetable polyculture bed have arrived. Such a fine vegetable to start the season with. The bed also includes Allium tuberosum  - Garlic Chives  that are also delicious in early spring and we should have some Fragaria x ananassa - Strawberry next month that we grow as ground cover among the Asparagus.

Asparagus officinalis - Asparagus
If you are interested how we made the asparagus bed you can find more info in our previous blog here 

Also from the Asparagaceae family (subfamily Scilloideae) are the non edible but deliciously aromatic Hyacinths. These plants are native to the eastern Mediterranean (from the south Turkey through to northern part of Palestine) and seem to handle our harsh winters here, emerging with striking inflorescence's in early spring. They are pollinated by bees but I don't notice too much insect activity around the plants.  If you have around 6,000 kg of the flowers (as you would) you can press around 1 kg of essential oil that is used in perfumery. It's also possible to obtain a blue dye from the flowers according to Ken Fern.

Forest Garden

The cherry tree blossoms are out in force, vying for the attention of the bees and other pollinators that fill the air with an invigorating buzz this time of year. The rapid wing beats of bees create vibrations in the air that our human ears detect as buzzing. It was always seem louder in the spring perhaps because there are far fewer leaves to absorb the sound waves. 

Chaenomeles speciosa - Japanese Quince is only just started to flower this year. Normally we see the flowers by the 1st week of March and sometimes in the last week of Feb. Honey bees love this plant.

Garden Wildlife 

Sophie loves cats  - I’m like, meh, are the nose rubs of one feline mammal worth the lives of countless slow worms, lizards and birds that serve to protect the lives of hundreds if not thousands of baby plants? The utilitarian in me thinks no, but I still can’t resist those nose rubs. I’ve heard putting bells on is meant to help so I should really try this out. Another trouble is that we have many semi wild cats in Shipka and the word is out that our garden is gourmet hunting ground. The other day, the supreme hunter pictured below, Cynthia, dragged in a Slowworm.

Fortunately the slowworm was unharmed, give or take a few scratches, and soon disappeared under the mulch upon release back into the garden. Not a great start to the season for this Slowworm - Anguis fragilis , who probably just woke up from hibernation recently.

Slowworms generally start to mate around May and the females incubate the eggs internally, 'giving birth' to an average of eight young in the summer. I find few things cuter than a baby slowworm :)  
If you would like more info on Slowworms and other reptiles of Bulgaria check out Dylan's new website here.

The Bionursery 

It's been the driest spring I can recall. I don't think it has rained since I have arrived back from Istanbul 3 weeks ago. It's not a problem for the established plants as the soils are still moist from the winter rains and snow melt, but we are having to water the nursery plants and new plantings every 5 or 6 days at the moment which is very unusual for this time of year. 

I've often said on this blog that our ducks are great in the gardens and nursery and indeed these Mallard hybrid farm ducks have been great picking off slugs and snails and leaving the plants alone. However, this is the first year we have overwintered them and it now appears that they are not quite so harmless. For starters every wildlife pond in the garden (1 large pond and 3 small tyre ponds) can now be renamed wildlifeless ponds and the heavier weight of the growing birds is causing a smeared cap to form on the beds which prevents air flow to and from the soil and decreases rainfall draining into the soil. Lastly, I was wondering why the comfrey plants had not emerged this year and have since  discovered the ducks are rather partial to the emerging Symphytum x uplandicum - Comfrey shoots.     

Here is a photo of a 2nd year Elaeagnus umbellata - Autumn Olive root. These plants are nitrogen fixing and like all plants from the Elaeagnaceae partner up with a group of Actinobacteria called Frankia. You can clearly see clumps of these bacterial colonies on the plant roots. 

Elaeagnus umbellata - Autumn Olive  nitrogen fixing nodules - Frankia spp. 

 One of the benefits of plants from our bionursery is that many of the plants form excellent relationships with beneficial microbes such as the nitrogen fixing bacteria and Mycorrhizal fungi. Standard nurseries rely heavily on synthesised pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and fertilisers, all of which will destroy these beneficial microbes.   You can find more info on nitrogen fixing plants in our previous blog here

Regenerative Landscape Design - Online Interactive Course 

Want to learn how to design, build and manage regenerative landscapes?  Join us for our Regenerative Landscape Design - Online Interactive Course from May 1st to Sep 13th, 2023. 

We're super excited about running the course and look forward to providing you with the confidence, inspiration, and opportunity to design, build and manage regenerative landscapes, gardens, and farms that produce food and other resources for humans while enhancing biodiversity.

Regenerative Landscape Design Online Course

You can find out all about the course here and right now we have a 20% discount on the full enrollment fees. Just use the promo code
 RLD2023 in the section of the registration form to receive your discount. 

We are looking forward to providing you with this unique online learning experience - as far as we know, the very first of its kind. If you are thinking of reasons why you should do this course and whether this course is suitable for you, take a look here where we lay it all out. Looking forward to it!


We offer a diversity of plants and seeds for permaculture, forest gardens and regenerative landscapes including a range of fruit and nut cultivars. We Deliver all over Europe from Nov - March. - Give a happy plant a happy home :)

Our Bio-Nursery - Permaculture/Polyculture/ Regenerative Landscape Plants 


Support Our Project 

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.
  • Donate directly via PayPal to or via FTX Pay


 Design and Create Webinars - Forest Gardens, Urban Gardens, Permaculture, Regenerative Farming   

We're hosting a range of online learning sessions including how to create habitat to enhance biodiversity, how to design and build a forest garden, polyculture design software tutorials, regenerative farm, and landscape design, urban gardening and much more. If you would like to be notified when our next sessions are coming up please add your email below and hit subscribe and we'll be in touch.

You can also register for our online training, services, and products directly here.


No comments:

Post a Comment