Friday, 22 November 2019

Autumn in the forest garden, Starting a Allium nursery and Ducks around the garden - The Polyculture Project


It's been a gorgeous autumn so far, more like an extension of summer than autumn, however this week it's starting to cool down and we've finally received some welcome rain, albeit cold November rain. 



Starting an Allium Nursery 


We've been making some new raised beds for bulbs in the nursery . We cleared and leveled the area, built the frame with 20 cm wide pine planks and shoveled out 50 cm wide pathways between the beds using the pathway soil to fill the beds which were then topped them up with some top soil and compost from around the garden.


The ducks joined us for the work, foraging for grubs and bugs as we moved the soil and compost around.


We planted the beds with the following Allium spp. and should have them available from our nursery next year, (depending on how fast they establish) 

Allium neapolitanum - Daffodil Garlic
Allium sphaerocephalon - Round-Headed Leek
Allium atropurpureum - Dark Purple Onion
Allium stipitatum - Regel
Allium sp. - 'Gladiator'
Allium amplectens - Narrow Leaved Onion 
Allium cernuum - Nodding Onion  

We are already growing the following Allium spp. around the gardens. 
   

We've situated the beds in a gap between some mature cherries trees and a large Mulberry where they will receive at least 6-7 hrs a day of light during the growing season. The beds are laid out on contour so that we can use our flood irrigation system between the pathways to irrigate.



Forest Garden Plants 


The Zanthoxylum piperitum - Japanese Pepper Tree fruits have opened and shed their seed and it's a good time to harvest the red husks. They are easy to dry in a paper bag left on a window sill for a week or so and than placed into glass jars for storing. Pop the husks into a pepper grinder for a delicious spice on pretty much any savoury dish 


Foeniculum vulgare - Fennel  seed great in breads, teas, seasoning and left on the plant for the birds to eat over winter


Two of my favourite biomass plants Miscanthus x giganteus - Giant Miscanthus and Paulownia tomentosa - Foxglove Tree both capable of producing incredible quantities of biomass and very easy to propagate so suitable for broad scale plantings. Although the plants are drought tolerant, in my experience their ability to produce useful quantities of biomass does rely on adequate irrigation applied.

 

The warm autumn has confused the Chaenomeles speciosa - Jap. Quince (left) and it has started to produce blossoms along with the ripe fruits. The warm weather has also prolonged the fruiting of our Cornus mas - Cornellian Cherry (right). 


If there is one plant you can rely on to provide nectar and pollen late in the season and keep flowering until buried in snow it's Erigeron annus . This annual plant, originally from across the pond,  has quite a bad rap, and is considered a noxious weed due to its habit of colonising disturbed soils, but its quite welcome in our gardens where it grows alongside the bare earth pathways and between the border rocks. The flowers attract a variety of bees, as well as flies, including syrphid flies, bee flies and  tachinid flies Wasps, small butterflies and other insects also visit the flowers to a lesser degree, seeking nectar, as well as a few pollen-feeding beetles. 


Cornus kuosa - Korean Dogwood is establishing well in the forest garden. The plants are 9 years old, grown from seed and have yet to flower and produce fruit. These are great small trees for the lower canopy of the forest garden growing well in partial shade. 


Usually the leaves from our  Ficus carica cv. - Fig  fall after the first frost. This autumn, without frost, is the first time I recall seeing the leaves change colour as the chlorophyll degrades during leaf senescence to reveal the carotenoids. This is good for the tree as during this process nutrients are extracted from the leaves and stored in the roots over winter. 


The ducks are enjoying the mild autumn days before the winter cold sets in.


Our ducks free range in the garden most of the year but they can be a problem in early spring when they disturb the freshly sown beds and peck at the spring shoots of the emerging herbs. Based on my experience this year with our first brood of ducklings, it's also probably a good idea to keep the mother and young ducklings contained for the first 6-7 weeks as we lost 8 out of 10 of our ducklings around the garden. Some were probably taken by predators but a few got caught tangled in the shrubs and a few drowned in the ponds. 


Over on the east side plots our neighbour's horses are doing a great job at clearing the grasses in the fields. This annual grazing helps to keep the meadows diverse by prohibiting the tall, tussocky, coarse species of grass dominating. 



That's all for this week,  I hope you're all having a wonderful Autumn.



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).


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 





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.





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 :) 


No comments:

Post a Comment