Sunday, 27 October 2019

Abnormal October, Forest Garden Seed Collecting, Mushroom Hunting, A New Forest Garden - The Polyculture Project

It's been a quiet month at the project now that the polyculture study crew left last month, although last week we had a great group join us for our Design n' Build Forest Garden Course that I'll be writing about in the coming weeks.

It has been an unbelievably abnormal hot and dry October here. For the first time I can recall we have not experienced an October night time low below 0 (although at time of writing there are still 5 nights to go) . The mean high temperature for our area in October based on 30 years of climate data is 13 C the mean low is 4 C and it has not dropped below 20 C all month.  According to the same data source, we can expect 8-9 days of rain in October with a total of 49 mm of rainfall throughout the month. We have had 0 mm of rainfall. It's quite surreal as it feels very much like summer but the trees are turning orange and dropping leaves. I guess the weather will change rapidly in the coming weeks with a wicked wind from the north and all of a sudden we will be in winter so for now I'll enjoy it while I can and keep picking tomatoes :)

Forest Garden Seed Collecting

Archie and I have been harvesting seeds from the trees and shrubs in the forest garden this month and sending out the seeds to our customers all over Europe. I've found that for many shrubs that ripen in the Autumn, sowing the seeds indoors within a few weeks of picking and cleaning them results in the seeds germinating without the need for stratification and the germination rates are very high.

Forest Garden Seed 
The reasoning behind this may be that the fruit tissue that envelops the seed contains an inhibitor to prevent the seed from germinating within the fruit and before the winter has passed. By cleaning off the tissue and sowing indoors where the temperature is always above 0 C the seed can bypass stratification altogether.  I find this works very well for all plants from Elaeagnaceae specifically Elaeagnus umbellata - Autumn Olive and plants from Rutaceae such as  Zanthoxylum piperitum - Japanese Pepper Tree as well as Chaenomeles speciosa - Jap. Quince but does not seem to work at all for seeds from Rosaceae or Cornaceae such as these Cornus mas - Cornellian Cherry seeds below.

Castanea sativa - Sweet Chestnut are already littering the ground in the gardens.  If you are looking to grow Castanea sativa - Sweet Chestnut from seed it is vital that you sow the seed as soon as they fall to ground as they will quickly dry out and lose their ability to germinate.  Our grow your own sponge plant Luffa aegyptiaca - Vietnamese Luffa  should ripen soon, turn dry and yellow-brown, after which I'll peel the skin to reveal the fibrous tissue underneath,  remove the seeds (for planting next year) wash out the sap, leave to dry, marvel at the structure, and then start using as a sponge.


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.

Forest Walk 

We went up in the mountain for a walk last week. I always enjoy the opportunity to learn from the forest and to see how plants arrange themselves in the wild. Of particular interest this trip was a  Rubus spp. ground cover that had formed a blanket of cover in the deep shade of the beech forest. I'm familiar with Rubus caesius - Dewberry that also grows well on the forest floor but this species had black shiny fruit more like a regular blackberry, sweeter than the Dewberry and formed a fuller cover.   

Unidentified Rubus sp. covering the beech forest floor. 

We also found a few Parasol Mushrooms - Macrolepiota procera - on the edge of the woods. These are one of my favourite edible mushrooms and taste delicious. They are very easy to identify and are not easily confused for poisonous species so great for the novice mushroom collector. There is one poisonous lookalike in north america Chlorophyllum molybdites and a smaller parasol Lepiota brunneoincarnata in Europe, but as long as you only pick mushrooms that have a cap larger than 10 cm in diameter you are safe.  

Prokope - A New Forest Garden

Thank you to the participants of our Design n' Build a Forest Garden Course for a lovely course, we really enjoyed hosting you here and getting started on a new forest garden.

The primary purpose of the garden is to grow a polyculture fruit orchard  providing a variety of fruit from July - October. Our goal is to encourage growth of existing biodiversity as much as possible and provide new habitat that enhances biodiversity. We are also aiming to utilise the slope of the land and existing water source to irrigate the garden.

I'll be writing about this garden with plenty of photos, maps and more detail in the coming weeks including the species we used , the fruit cultivars, access and irrigation layout and support habitat features. Here is a growth forecast illustration of Prokope, our new Forest Garden. 

Upcoming Courses

If you would like to create a forest garden and gain some practical hands on experience come and join us in the Spring. 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 April 2020 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.

  • Consider joining us on for one our Courses or Webinars 
  • Comment, like and share our content on social media.

Polyculture - Forest Gardens - Permaculture - Regenerative Design Webinars 

Want to join us for one of our live webinars?  Forthcoming webinars include ;

Polyculture - Forest Gardens - Permaculture - Regenerative Design Webinars 

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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