Sunday, 18 August 2019

Hazelnut Harvest, Broken Branches, Wild Flowers and Forest Garden Plants Week 19 - The Polyculture Project

It's been a lovely week here in Shipka - although quite windy, and the plants and soils dry out very quickly, so this week we've been irrigating the gardens as much as possible.  We've also continued with invertebrate surveys and soil tests and processing some of the harvests from the gardens. 

So here's what we've been up to in the gardens this week.    


Hazel  - Corylus spp. Yields 

We are growing around 7 different cultivars of  Corylus spp. - Hazelnut  among the different gardens. I planted the first cultivars in the Market Garden - Aponia three seasons ago  and they have been producing nuts for the last few years. This year I have started to record the yields of the various plants hoping to identify the cultivars that are best suited for our gardens for future plantings.

'Ata Baba' 

The below image shows the planting locations of various Hazel cultivars in Aponia, namely ;
  1. 'Tonda Gentile Romana' 
  2. 'Ata Baba'
  3. 'Barcelona'
  4. 'Badeovidim'

There were only nuts on the Ata Baba and Badeovidim cultivars this year. The nuts of these cultivars  look very similar to each other both being Filberts (Corylus maxima) although the Ata Baba nuts are slightly larger and the Badeovidim are more frequently clustered in 4 or 5 husks as opposed to the Ata Baba that cluster in 2s and 3s  shown below.   

I harvested nuts from 2 trees of Ata Baba and 2 trees of Badeovidim, weighed and photographed the nuts. 

Here are the records for this year 

Corylus spp. - Hazel Records 2019 - Aponia
No.Year Planted BotanicalCultivarHarvest kgFruit Notes Notes Harvest Period
1April 2015Corylus avellana Tonda Romana n/ano fruit this year - previous years have been fruitful Mid August
2April 2015Corylus maxima Ata baba0.210Mostly 1 or 2 husks per flower
some 3
no signs of Nut Weevils - Balaninus nucum Mid August
3April 2015Corylus avellana Barcelona n/atree on left of below image FTGL for stakes - no fruit since the planting out
tree on right no fruit this year or since planting out - very tall plant
Early September
4April 2015Corylus maxima Badeovidim0.200Mostly 2 or 3 husks per flower
some 5 and one 6
Nut Weevils - Balaninus nucum destroyed 3 or 4 of the nuts Mid August 

There were signs of the Nut Weevil - Balaninus nucum on 3 or 4 of the Badeovidim nuts as shown below but none on the Ata Baba nuts . 

We're offering a range of cultivars including the above mentioned 'Ata baba' from the nursery this year . You can find out more about the plants we have on offer here

Wild Flowers in the Gardens

Saponaria officinalis - Soapwort grows wild in the meadows and woodland edges in and around the gardens. It's an attractive plant with a long blooming period throughout the summer.  As its common name implies, it can be used as a very gentle soap and has historically been used to clean delicate textiles. We encourage it in the gardens and I have found it makes an excellent ground cover in dry sunny spots.  

Another wild growing beauty that makes a great ground cover is Salvia verticillata - Lilac sage.  This herbaceous perennial forms expansive clumps and flowers from spring through to late summer and is much visited by pollinators. Although in the Salvia genus I am not aware of any culinary uses for this plant   


Phronensis - 

We established this new forest garden in April of this year with the help of our amazing Design and Build a Forest Course participants. This week we have been taking soil surveys in the garden with aim to track the heath of the soil over time and see how our planting schemes and management plans affect soil health. Here are Lea and Eva working through the soil heath cards from Northern Rivers.

The garden design, species list and planting scheme. 

The primary purpose of the garden is to produce round wood for fence posts, light construction wood, and stakes and pole wood for the market garden with secondary purposes to provide fruits and nuts in the under story and a range of habitat to support wildlife. 

Since we established the garden in the spring I've mowed the pathways 4 times (approx once every 2 or 3 weeks taking approx. 20 minutes per cut), we've pulled weeds growing through the mulch around the newly planted trees twice (that's 48 mulched plants that takes 3 or 4 people about 45 - 60 minutes per weeding session) and this week we have watered the plants for the first time this season  following the initial plant out.  Here you can see the third row of Paulownia tomentosa - Foxglove Tree and Alnus cordata  - Italian Alder trees planted on contour. establishing well. 

We've also added the pond and finished off the raised beds in the south end of the garden.  If you don't include the raised beds, this seems to be quite a low maintenance garden. 

Forest Garden Plants 

It's been a great year for plums, perhaps a bit too good as quite a few plum trees around the area have been snapping out limbs from the weight of the fruit. The photo below is of a Prunus insititia - Damson  on the southern border of the garden. Two limbs snapped out making it easy pickings for Eva and Simon that collected about 10 kg of the plums for pies and jams. 

Prunus insititia - Damson  fruits from our fallen branches 

Here is Misha picking green beans in the market garden. These beans are a local cultivar from a friend of Misha's in a neighbouring village. The plants seem to like it the garden and have been very productive so far and are great tasting both raw and cooked.    

It's that time of year when the wild Rubus fruticosus cv. - Blackberry generously present themselves to the animals. What with all the rain we had this season the wild berries are plump and juicy. Personally I prefer the taste of the wild blackberries to the cultivated ones, although a new cultivar 'Reuben' that I've been growing for a few years is pretty close. Here are some black berries growing up a small apple tree we have in Aponia. Next week the apples should be ripe and you can pick and eat the blackberries and apples right from the same spot. An excellent combination fresh as well as baked in a crumble :)       

Upcoming Courses

If you would like to create a forest garden and gain some practical hands on experience come and 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).

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

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Polyculture/Regenerative Landscape Design Webinars 

This season we are running live interactive sessions hosted on Zoom on a range of topics. You can register for a  webinar here.

Would you like to be involved in the project? We are currently offering 1 - 6 month positions on our polyculture study.

Permaculture and Regenerative Design Internships 

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.

We also offer a range of products all year round from our Online Store 

Give a happy plant a happy home :) 

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