It’s been an eventful week here at the project, planting out the market garden crops, digging wildlife ponds and launching a Patreon Page!! We also welcome Ben, a landscaper from the UK, that joined us for the course and is staying on for a few weeks for the polyculture study.
At the beginning of the week we said farewell to the participants of our Design and Build a Forest Garden course after a marvellous three days of design and build that resulted in the creation of a new forest – details of which will follow.
Our Design and Build courses are exactly that. We start with the design and end with the build. For this particular course the location for the new garden was just east of our perennial polyculture trial garden, Ataraxia, in a new area we are developing called Phronesis. The forest garden is named after and dedicated to Joost W. van der Laan who made a generous donation to our Polyculture Project Crowdfunder last year. Thank you Joost :)
It was an eclectic group of people that joined us for the course this spring including; young farmers, fitness trainers, a landscape gardener, a journalist and a Hollywood actress. Coming together from all over the world to create a fledgling forest garden. This occurred at about the same time 10,000’s of people were laying down on the floors of London to protest to government about biodiversity loss and environmental damage. I wonder whether if just 5% of them (of those that have not already) were to build a forest garden whether the result might be 50x more effective than expecting the government to do something? But hey – people love a “lay-in” it seems!
The primary purpose of this garden is to produce round wood for fence posts, light construction wood, and stakes and pole wood for the market garden crops. The secondary purpose is to provide fruits and nuts in the under story and a range of habitat to support wildlife. Here’s an illustration of the garden.
- Encourage growth of the existing biodiversity as much as possible and to provide new habitat that enhances biodiversity.
- Utilise the slope of the land and existing water source to irrigate the garden
This image provides a growth projection from initial plant out, to year 3, year 8 and year 15-20 when the garden is mature:
The Market Garden – Aponia
Next we add approx. 20L of compost per m2 to the surface:
Then we mulch the bed with 1 bale per m length of bed:
The compost is spread evenly over the surface and the straw mulch is applied:
We are growing 6 cultivars of tomatoes this year. Sophie started the tomatoes from seed in mid February and transplanted the seedlings into 10L pots when they were approx. 8 cm tall. You can comfortably fit 7 or 8 seedlings in each 10L pot . We removed the plants from the pots and sat them in buckets of water prior to planting out. The cultivars we are growing are Tigerella – Ukraine Purple – Chocolate Pear – Alicante – Yellow Pear and Rozavo Magia.
Great to see a Mulberry tree we planted last year flowering this year, hopefully we will get some fruit in a few months. This is Morus kagayamae – ‘Kinriu’ a dioecious female plant that will produce fruit with a male pollinator mulberry nearby. For more info on Mulberry check out our previous post dedicated solely to these marvellous plants here.
Our Elaeagnus umbellata – Autumn Olive shrubs are flowering profusely this spring. The flowers are very attractive to a range of pollinators and pest predators, and come October will have transformed into sweet little red balls of fruit.
Forest Garden Maintenance
It’s been about two weeks since I last cut the pathways in the forest garden and leaving it any longer this time of year makes the job twice as hard as the lush vegetation grows so tall it clogs up the lawn mower. It takes around 40 minutes to mow all of the pathways and this includes emptying the nutrient dense cuttings onto the surface of the raised beds where we grow our annual vegetables. I would estimate that we receive approx. 60 kg of trimmings each time we cut in the spring which is a decent quantity of fertiliser. As long as you spread the trimmings thinly on the surface they will quickly decompose. Here are some photos of the freshly cut pathways within our 8 year old forest garden in Aponia. We established most of these pathways with the lawn mower and some of them we dug out when we first developed the garden and sowed with Trifolium repens – White Clover.
Live Webinar Coming up this Autumn
- Selecting trees that suit your climate and location
- Choosing the right root stock and cultivar
- Selecting trees with pollination compatibility
- Choosing the right location and spacing for your trees
- Buying Fruit and Nut Trees
- Planting out and aftercare
- Software for Planning Garden layout
- Closing Questions and Answers
- Access to design spreadsheets including a Selection Check List and Pollination Requirements for Common Fruit and Nut Trees