Sunday, 16 June 2019

Thinning and Lifting in the Forest Garden, Biomass Plants and Garden Wildlife Week 11 - The Polyculture Project

It's been a productive week in the gardens and we've been busy chopping and dropping, digging water channels and pruning. It's starting to heat up in the gardens now and the fruits are ripening.

So here's what we've been up to.  

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.

Aponia - Forest Garden Maintenance 

We have a combination of fruiting shrubs and trees planted along swales in the Forest garden including Rubus fruticosus cv. - BlackberryRibes nigrum cv.- BlackcurrantAronia melanocarpa - Black Chokeberry and Prunus cerasifera - Cherry Plum and Chaenomeles speciosa - Jap. Quince. The plants generally grow well together but over time the dense entanglement can reduce air circulation within the mixed canopy that can start to create stressful conditions for the plants, it also makes it difficult to harvest. To remedy this we practice thinning and lifting. Thinning is basically removing approx 1/3rd of the oldest wood within each shrub. We also remove the dead wood and any branches that are rubbing against each other. Lifting is removing the lower branches of the trees to above head height in order to access around the tree and provide more light and air flow under the canopy. All of the pruned material are chopped into smaller pieces and applied to the surface under the shrubs. Here are Lilly and Lea (in the thick of it) thinning the shrubs and trees on the Swale.  You can see the lifted Prunus cerasifera - Cherry Plum to the left of Lilly 

Forest Garden Fruits 

The first crop of Rubus idaeus cv. - Raspberry are ready. These fruits form on the unpruned canes from last year. The pruned canes will produce fruit around late September 

It's another good year for Prunus spinosa - Sloe. The shrubs are full of fruit that will ripen in late summer.

Ribes rubrum cv. - Red currant are starting to ripen

The meadows around the area are ready for a hay cut. The lack of a long dry period this spring has prevented a cut so far this season.  

Birdsfoot trefoil - Lotus corniculatus is one of many nitrogen fixing herbs that grow among the grasses in the meadows

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

We're hosting a range of webinars 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 more. If you would like to be notified when our next webinar is coming up please add your email below and hit subscribe and we'll be in touch. You can also register here  for our upcoming webinars.

Wildlife in the Gardens 

I found what looks like the beginning of a wasp nest among the stack of straw bales in the garden. 

We have a growing population of Grassnakes - Natrix natrix in the gardens. These are harmless snakes that can be useful pest predators feeding on slugs when they are young. This is the first time I have seen these snakes in the nursery area of garden. It was among the potted plants probably hunting for frogs that shelter among the pots looking for slugs. For more information about this snake check out Dylan's website Bulgarians Reptiles

Biomass Trials - Ataraxia

An ideal biomass/mulch plant grows fast, is drought tolerant, competes minimally with crop plants, does not contain seed that easily spreads, is easy to handle and cut, i.e,  not thorny/prickly or tough and fibrous, and can biodegrade relatively quickly (thereby returning the nutrients back to soil). It should also be inexpensive to produce lots of plants and easy to establish. We're experimenting with various plants in the trial garden to see which plants are most suitable for mulch production.  You can find out more about our biomass trials here.

Out of these three plants Miscanthus x giganteus - Giant Miscanthus  is certainly the easiest to propagate with a plant grown from a rhizome being able to produce up to 5 more plants within a year. Some care should be taken when choosing the location of the  Miscanthus x giganteus - Giant Miscanthus  as the plant spreads rapidly forming large impenetrable clumps. We plant on raised beds and mow the pathways aorund the beds to keep them contained. Here is Ronan dividing clumps of Miscanthus x giganteus for planting around the pond in Katal√™psis -The Polyculture Study Guest House. These plants are also useful in producing support material for vegetables in the gardens.

For more on growing your own mulch see our previous blog post - How to grow your own mulch 

For the Bulgarian translation of the blog see here - thank you Mihaela Tzarchinska.

Upcoming Forest Garden Courses 

If you would like to create a forest garden and gain some practical hands-on experience come and join us for our Design and Build a Forest Garden Course. 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.

Design and Build - Forest Garden Course  - Regenerative Landscape Design Course

Registration for our course is now open with a 15% discount on accommodation and food fees when you register as a group (2 or more). You can also take advantage of early booking discounts if you book 3 months before the course starts.


Please Consider Supporting Our Efforts 

Our project grows with our desire to provide better quality information. Our overheads and demands on our time also grow along with our development and this presents a challenge for us to maintain the project and activities. We do not receive any government, institutional or NGO funding for our project and rely on revenue from sales of our courses, plants, consultancy, and design work along with the support of our amazing volunteers to develop and manage the gardens and are very grateful for this. So please consider joining us for a course or event, purchasing products and services from our online store or plants from our bio nursery, participating in our online educational platforms and support the project while we support you. Feeling super generous today? You can also support us directly with a one-time donation or become a sponsor of our project providing monthly support. With your support, we will continue to improve on producing quality information and data for the community, building a world-class demonstration landscape and progress on our mission to develop and promote practices that can produce food and other resources for humans while enhancing biodiversity.


We also accept donations via bank transfer in USD - EURO - GBP - AUD - NZD  - (please email for account details) and via peer to peer distributed ledger - BTC - ETH

If you are not in a financial position to purchase our products and services or donate please comment, like and share our work. This helps us to spread our work further afield and is much appreciated.


Would you like to be involved in the project next season?  1-6 month placements on our polyculture study are now open. 

Permaculture and Regenerative Design Internships


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 


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.


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.


No comments:

Post a comment