Saturday, 25 April 2020

Spring Pruning, Garlic Mustard Ground Cover and Pollinators in the Forest Garden - Week 6 - The Polyculture Project

It's been a beautiful week here in Shipka, lovely weather and bright blue skies. We've been busy in the gardens, getting some late planting-out done, tackling some spring pruning, and preparing the beds for the warm season annual crops.


Our early spring pruning includes some tree and shrub work that did not get done in the Autumn/Winter such as lifting larger limbs of trees and thinning crowns to allow more light through to the lower layers in the forest garden. We're also pruning out some Raspberry canes that will grow back and fruit in late summer but leaving some canes for early June fruits and reducing nitrogen-fixing shrubs and applying the pruned biomass as mulch specifically Spartium junceum - Broom. Now the weather has warmed up we are starting to mow the patches of lawn and wild plants growing on the edges of the raised bed. The lawn trimmings make a great mulch for our young nursery plants. 
Here are the tools we use for pruning, although the loppers and machetes are missing from the photo but otherwise, it's all there. 


Ivy-leaved Toadflax - Cymbalaria muralis a local native has found a place in the garden growing around our outdoor tap area. Such a delicate looking plant capable of growing in the harshest environments on cliff faces and cracks between rocks. It's found a home in our urban architecture and can often be found growing in cracks of pavements. The leaves are evergreen and the plant is in flower from May to September.  The leaves can be eaten but there are some reports of toxicity so I'd only consider this edible if you are starving during a winter.


Crab Apple Blossom an excellent pollinator for most Apple cultivars given its long blooming period. Our tree always producing a good crop of tiny little yellow when ripe apples that make a good nibble in the summer. 


Taraxacum sp. - Dandelion, always a pleasure to meet these beauties in the spring. 


Corylus avellana - Hazelnut that we cut back 3 years ago needs some of the coppice regrowth thinned to allow the straight poles to grow better. We'll use the pruned shoots for kindling and rough mulch in the forest garden.


Liatris spicata - Gayfeather is a new plant I'm trying to grow this year. Here it is emerging from the soil. Welcome to the jungle :) 


I've been encouraging Alliaria petiolata - Garlic mustard to spread around the garden. This biennial plant, a member of Brassicaceae, is native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa and makes a great spring ground cover where the soil has been left bare over winter. The leaves are very edible and have a strong mustard flavor. The below photo shows the plants emerging for their first season. 


And here is the plant in it's second year when it flowers, set seeds, and exits the scene. The flowers are very attractive to a range of pollinators and I've observed many beetles and spiders interacting with these plants. 


The bulbous plants are starting to fade now as the herbaceous perennial, shrubs, and trees start to leaf out in full. 


Now the temperature has warmed up, the garden is filling up with a variety of flying insects, including Solitary bees, Bee Flies, and Beetles to name but a few. These are all excellent pollinators in the forest garden. The best time to observe the flying insects is in the early afternoon when they are most active. If you are interested in learning more about pollinators and how they interact with plants check out Module 5 of our Online Course where we introduce you to our wild allies and the role they play in our productive landscapes supporting crop productivity, controlling pests and providing fertility, and how we can encourage them to live and breed in our landscapes.



We're launching our very first Regenerative Landscape Design - Online Interactive Course -  How to Design, Build and Manage Polycultures for Landscapes, Gardens, and Farms on May 6th and right now we have a 25% discount off for full enrollment to the course.

You can find out more about the course here to see if it tickles your fancy and if you are thinking of reasons why you should do this course and whether this course is suitable for you, take a look here where we lay it all out.
Regenerative Landscape Design Online Course

We're super excited about running the course and look forward to providing you with the confidence, inspiration, and opportunity to design, build and manage regenerative landscapes, gardens, and farms that produce food and other resources for humans while enhancing biodiversity.


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Sunday, 19 April 2020

A History of a Narcissist, Pollinating Flies, Cherry Blossom and other plants from the Forest Garden - Week 5 - The Polyculture Project

That week flew by and speaking of flying, the first of the Swallows - Hirundo spp. have arrived in town, oblivious to the travel restrictions and quarantined only to earth :)

It's been warm and green here this week with many plants emerging for the sunshine. Here's some photo's from the forest garden and what we've been up to in the gardens.


Pyrus communis - Pear in blossom under  Morus alba - White Mulberry in Apatheia. A tasty pear, not sure of the cultivar but grows fine under the shade of the Morus alba - White Mulberry although it has taken on a dwarf form making it very easy to pick the fruit from.


Prunus avium - Sweet Cherry is in full blossom at the moment and buzzing with bees and other flying insects. The first cherries should be ready by the third week of May if the weather stays warm.

 

In the early evenings of the sunny days, a range of flies can be found on a warm spot next to our compost heap. Flies are always welcome in the garden and many flies are equally important to pollinating crops as bees and some such as the tachinids are good pest predators. 


Tulipa sp. - Tulip almost ready for another round of reproduction. 


Tulipa sp. - Tulip well on their way 



Great to see Lunaria rediviva - Perennial Honesty is voluntarily spreading around the garden. The edibility of these plants is uncertain to me, but in any case, their value as a wildlife attractant is much appreciated. 


Levisticum officinale - Lovage with  Ribes nigrum cv.- Blackcurrant in the background.


Plenty of Corona in the garden at the moment, fortunately only those of the bold Daffodils. In Latin, the Daffodils are called Narcissus and named after a beautiful hunter in Greek mythology that people were forever falling in love with. The hunter, Narcissus, was not having any of it and only showed disdain and contempt to his admirers. One day the Oread nymph Echo met him in the woods and alike many before, instantly fell in love. She followed him around the woods but Narcissus sensed that he was being followed and eventually Echo revealed herself to him and attempted to hug him. Narcissus, true to form, pushed her away in irritation and Echo, in despair, roamed around the woods for the rest of her life, and wilted away until all that remained of her was her sound.


Nemesis, (a goddess of retribution and revenge) learned what had happened and decided to punish Narcissus for his behavior. She led him to a pool where he could gaze at his reflection in the water knowing that he would fall in love with himself. When Narcissus understood that his love for himself was as good as it was going to get he committed suicide. Always love an upbeat anecdote from the classics :) 

 My favorite Daffodil  has to be Narcissus poeticus  - Poet's Narcissus 


Nitrogen Fixing Elaeagnus x ebbingei - Ebbinge's silverberry regrowth. These tender shoots will be trimmed back at some point during the next few weeks and applied as mulch under the productive plants in the forest garden. These along with many other nitrogen-fixing plants we have in the forest garden play a significant role in fertilizing the garden. For more on Nitrogen Fixing plants see our previous post here. 


Last year we started a Green Manure Trial, you can read more about that here


Here's a photo of the patch from last week, the Trifolium repens - White Clover and Alfalfa medicago are doing great . Not so great for Onobrychis viciifolia - Sainfoin but we'll try sowing another patch this year with stratified seed. We have green manures and cover crops for sale from our store here 


That's all for this week!


Welcome to 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

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Thursday, 16 April 2020

Forest Garden Plants, Perennial Polycultures, Green Manures and Raised Beds - Week 4 - The Polyculture Project

Halfway through April already and with the last of our plant orders out to our customers it's great to be spending more time in the gardens where everything seems to make perfect sense.

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


We spent a morning in Aponia earlier this week. This is usually the garden we run our annual polyculture trials but this year seeing as we don't have our team with us we're going to focus all of the vegetable production in the home gardens and will be maintaining the forest garden in Aponia along with some of the perennial vegetable beds. We are hoping to record all of the fruit, nut and perennial vegetable harvests from the forest garden this year, something I've been meaning to do for many years. 



Prunus persica - Wild Peach sowed from seed 6 years ago is showing off in the afternoon sun. We've not had much fruit from this tree yet but hoping this will be the year this young plant hits its stride. 

 

The raised beds in Aponia with Paulownia tomentosa - Foxglove Tree in the beds on the right. We leave the wild plants to grow in the beds all through late autumn and into the spring and only disturb them when we are planting out the vegetables. If we have time we may plant 2 or 3 of the beds with sweetcorn but otherwise, these beds will lay fallow this year.


Muscari neglectumGrape Hyacinth we planted about 5 years ago is spreading beautifully around a support bed we have in the market garden. The 5m2 area is designated to native plants and as well as some early and late flowering species. I like to break up the nursery beds and vegetable beds with these support islands with at least 10% of the land left to wild.

  

Our perennial polyculture is doing well in the forest garden. We have two rows of currants one Ribes nigrum cv.- Blackcurrant one Ribes rubrum cv. - Red currant with Allium cepa proliferum - Tree Onion planted in between and two Cornus kuosa - Korean Dogwood trees on either side with a Lavandula angustifolia - Lavender planted on the corner. I think we can probably fit in a few  Allium giganteum - Giant Onion among the Currants and a few Symphytum x uplandicum - Comfrey plants that we can use for chop and drop mulch feed.


We've left a variety of wild plants growing around the edges and in a few weeks, I'll take some video of the wildlife that visits the polyculture. So far I'm pleased with how this polyculture is taking shape. Here's the original plan for the polyculture, although we did not plant the strawberry ground cover in the end. Fragaria x ananassa - Strawberry should work well as a ground cover but will probably not produce much fruit given the shade cast by the shrubs.



We're launching our very first Regenerative Landscape Design - Online Interactive Course -  How to Design, Build and Manage Polycultures for Landscapes, Gardens, and Farms

We're super excited about running the course and look forward to providing you with the confidence, inspiration, and opportunity to design, build and manage regenerative landscapes, gardens, and farms that produce food and other resources for humans while enhancing biodiversity.

Regenerative Landscape Design Online Course

You can find out more about the course here to see if it tickles your fancy, and if you subscribe to our newsletter below or you already have subscribed you are welcome to a 25% discount on the full enrollment fees for this course.  Just use the promo code SUB2020 in the section of the registration form to receive your discount. We are looking forward to providing you with this unique online learning experience - as far as we know the very first of its kind, and if you are thinking of reasons why you should do this course and whether this course is suitable for you, take a look here where we lay it all out.


                                                                        


Symphytum x uplandicum - Comfrey emerging with vigor from the winter on the edge of the pathway in Aponia 


Over-head shot of a Prunus tomentosa - Nanking Cherry just finishing up flowering. Looking forward to the fruits from these shrubs around the end of June.


A good example of a tip bearing fruit tree, in this case, a Pear - Pyrus communis 'Early Boliaka'. It's important to understand where the fruit on your tree will form especially if you intend to prune the tree. With a tree such as this if you were to prune all of the main stems down you would not receive any fruit as the fruit blossom are only borne on buds at the tips that develop in the previous Autumn. Some fruit trees will produce fruits from buds on spurs , others on spurs and tips and some such as Prunus armeniaca ​- Apricot 


We added some raised beds to the home garden (Apatheia) in the Autumn for starting our allium nursery (you can find the alliums we're offering here) I meant to add some corner supports to the planks but did not get around to it before I left to Istanbul for the winter but this week we finally got them on. These are the raised beds we built in the spring.


I bought a combination of L shaped corner brackets and regular brackets but the regular square brackets were not large enough.


Here are the L shaped brackets screwed into the raised beds to support the corners. Without these, the weight of the soil and plant roots expanding in the corners will likely cause damage to the corners and pull the planks apart. I'm hoping we get at least 5 years from the pine planks before we need to replace them. 


That's all for this week. 

Welcome to 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

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