Sunday, 1 December 2019

Early Winter Fruits from the Forest Garden, Planting out our Polyculture Orchard and Webinar Survey Results - The Polyculture Project

We've been super busy in the nursery during the last few weeks picking and packing plants for late Autumn deliveries.  It's always a pleasure to send our plants and seeds out to new and old forest gardens and farms around the world, and to learn of all the interesting projects. The bulk of the plant orders are out now until March deliveries and we've had some time to concentrate on early winter plantings. We finally received some welcome rain and following a grey misty wet week of weather it has cleared and the sun is shining again - the perfect time for planting out.

So here's what we've been up to this week in the gardens and some info and photos of winter fruits in the forest garden.


Probably the most wintery of winter fruits the Mespilus germanica - Medlar  will hang on the tree right through to the new year. If picked now and kept inside for 10 days or so in a dark room the fruit will soften in a process known as bletting (pronounced like betting) and are ready to eat. The fruits can also be eaten directly off the tree in late autumn and right through the new year.


Erigeron annus still flowering away with Chaenomeles speciosa - Jap. Quince fruit in the background 


The Paulownia tomentosa - Foxglove Tree are starting to shed their humongous leaves 


 Ginkgo biloba - Maidenhair Tree,....I so love this tree :)


Clematis vitalba - Travellers Joy waiting for a windy day to shed its offspring into the wild. Although they can grow aggressively up trees and smother plants in the forest garden, I always keep sections of the gardens to let them run free as they provide habit and resources for many organisms and are delightful to the eye at this time of year. They are also an excellent chop and drop biomass plant producing plenty of organic matter in our gardens even during the driest months. 


The mild autumn has been good to the Buckwheat seedlings. They self seeded from plants that were sown in late Spring and serve as a pretty good winter ground cover at the moment. We'll see how they fare when the cold weather arrives proper.


You can see the green patches in the below bed where the Buckwheat has self seeded in our hardwood cuttings raised bed where we are growing  Ribes nigrum cv.- Blackcurrant , Ribes rubrum cv. - Red currant  and Vitis vinifera cv. - Grape  with  Allium schoenoprasum - Chives planted in the corners of the bed 


 Picking fruits off trees in the winter, never fails to amuse me.  Diospyros kaki - Japanese Persimmon  is probably the best tasting of the winter fruits, packing so much vitamin and sweetness.


Juglans regia - Persian Walnut  get a bad rap for not being good companions to other plants. In my experience there is not much that will not grow under and around Walnuts and our  Diospyros kaki - Japanese Persimmon  (pictured behind the walnut in the below photo) certainly enjoys the company.
I wrote a post about growing plants around walnuts and listed all of the plants I've observed growing well, you can find that here if you're interested 


Plenty of Chaenomeles speciosa - Jap. Quince as usual. After a frost they soften and can be squeezed like a lemon for juice. I add a squeeze with some honey, grated fresh ginger , dried Aronia melanocarpa - Black Chokeberry   berries and a few dried husks of  Zanthoxylum piperitum - Japanese Pepper Tree mixed in hot water. Allow to fuse for 5 minutes, strain and drink up the goodness. 


Sorbus aucuparia - Rowan fruits right at the top of the tree. Provisions for the birds this winter.


 The crimson candelabra-like stature of Rhus typhina -   Stag's horn sumach  brighten up the place this time of year and in the summer these fruits make a tasty lemonade.  They appear to be good biomass plants as well growing very fast and sending up suckers from the expansive rhizomes.


Elaeagnus umbellata - Autumn Olive  still full of fruit and tasting better than ever at the moment 


I harvested the seed of this Sorbus sp. from Wisley gardens in the UK about 8 or 9 years ago. I'm not sure of the species as the tree was not on their database and did not have a label. Oddly, when the seeds from the tree germinated some of the seedlings had completely different leaves than others and as the plants have  grown these differences remain. I've planted about 6 of these tree around the town in various gardens and this year we received the first fruits. I think the parent may have been Sorbus torminalis or some hybrid with Sorbus torminalis as one parent. 


Elaeagnus angustifolia - Russian Olive has dropped it's leaves revealing the silver fruits.





Planting Out Our Polyculture Orchard 


After a week of rain the soil is lovely and moist and with the cool weather it's a perfect time to plant out some new fruit trees in the Polyculture Orchard. We planted some pears, apricots and hazels into the tree rows and mulched them well.  You can find the planting scheme for the orchard below.

 

Here is the planting plan for the fruit trees in the Polyculture Orchard. If you would like to learn about how to select trees for a polyculture orchard we are offering a webinar on this topic. You can find out more about this and register here


Our Apricot cultivars 

Some friends from Germany, Simon and Kartini, purchased some land from us a few years back and have been returning every year to plant out trees and shrubs into the plots. Dylan, Archie and their pal Stoyan helped out with planting Castanea sativa - Sweet Chestnut in one of their fields last week.



As they are not here to look over the trees most of the year, they have been erecting tree guards for the plants to prevent the herbivores getting at them and have been using these tree planting pits that collect rainwater and eliminate the need to  irrigation. 


Over at Aponia Dylan planted some Elaeagnus umbellata - Autumn Olive  into our biomass belt between clumps of  Miscanthus x giganteus - Giant Miscanthus .  You can read more about our biomass belt here.


We set up a new bed for mother plants in Aponia where we planted five cultivars for  Corylus avellana - Hazelnut . We'll be using these plants for propagation material for nursery stock. Hazels are relatively easy to propagate using a method known as stooling which is simply heaping loose soil around  the collar of the tree, waiting 12 months, removing the soil and dividing the shoots with roots away from the main plant. For more on Hazel (including stooling) see our guide to growing Hazel here.

 

For more info on the cultivars that we have planted click below 

Hazelnut cultivars for forest gardens 

Autumn Giveaway - Webinar Survey Results 


Thank you to everyone that took part in our Autumn Giveaway Survey. We had 113 people take part and we randomly selected two winners on the 25th November. 1st place goes to Delaina who wins free webinars for a year and a forest garden seed pack, and 2nd place goes to Pamela Melcher who wins a free webinar - congratulations!

We had some great feedback and will use the information from the survey to develop our webinars over the winter months and plan on launching a new webinar platform in the new year. 


Here's a summary of the results; 

The participants voted the topics they are most interested in in the following order of popularity;


  1. How to Design and Build a Forest Garden 
  2. How to Select Fruit and Nut Trees for your Forest Garden/Polyculture Orchard 
  3. Creating Habitat for Biodiversity 
  4. Integrating Animals into home scale Forest Gardens
  5. How to use software for polyculture/permaculture design 
  6. Farm Scale Regenerative Design 
  7. Polyculture Design for Urban Gardens 
  8. How to use software for building base maps and site analysis 


60.2% of the participants thought that €30 for a 2 hr live webinar including access to design spreadsheets, species lists and other resources to take away is good value.

14.2%  thought that €30 was not good value 

25.6 %  did not commit to yes or no but provided a range of useful feedback  including sliding scale, offering a series of webinars and posting some free webinars to engage more people.




And many of the participants left us encouraging words of support and some great ideas. Thanks everyone that took part and for the words of encouragement. We're going to work on the webinar format over the winter and plan to launch a new platform in the new year.


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 


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.





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