Forest Garden Plants, River Irrigation, Paulownia Coppice & Garden Bees –
Week 6 - The Polyculture Project
It has been a relaxed week here in Shipka where the main focus has stayed on the market garden, we are sowing and planting out the warm season annual crops and the garden bees are busy pollinating. The weather has been warm with cloudy cool spells and the wild vegetation is really starting to take off. The fruits are forming on the trees and shrubs and the promise of summer, albeit 6 weeks away, is in the air.
So here’s what we’ve been up to this week.
Ronan Delente a chef who has been travelling the world cooking across the continents has joined us for the study this year. Ronan has been experimenting with various recipes using the wild plants and perennial vegetables from the gardens. He started a blog this week to share his recipes and love for cooking with perennials. Check out his Falafel recipe here – looks very tasty!
The Forest Garden – Aponia
Looking forward to the fruits from this Rubus fruticosus cv. – Blackberry cultivar ‘Reuben’. This cultivar is unusual for blackberry in that it produces fruit on new growth, known as a primocane. We get some great fruit from this plant in the summer and it continues to flower into late October and although the fruit does not ripen that late in the season the flowers do provide scarce forage for pollinators.
As the warmer season approaches we will be needing to irrigate the gardens. This week we went for a walk up the mountain to show the team the source of our irrigation, the river in the valley above us, and how the town diverts the river to supply water for gardens and farms in the area.
Here’s a map showing the channel we use to irrigate the market garden and home garden on the west side of town . The red markers are places where the stream can be diverted to irrigate the other gardens of the town. The end of the blue line in the bottom left hand corner is the market garden. The above photo was taken at the other end of the blue line on this map.
For the East side gardens we use a different river . Here’s a short video made by Archie, one of the students from our Design and Build a Forest Garden Course in April 2019, that shows the irrigation channels in the new forest garden that we built during the course.
Paulownia Coppice Trials
Here is a photo of Paulownia tomentosa – Foxglove Tree used for shade support in our vegetable polycultures. This photo was taken in the summer of 2016 just 3 months after planting the 1 year old whips, already providing some nice shade that helps to prevent the parsley from bolting to seed.
This spring about 3 weeks ago I cut down the trees and the largest tree (shown below) was approx. 4m tall and approx. 15 cm wide at the base. You can see 3 weeks after I cut the tree the new growth is already emerging. I expect these new shoots will reach at least 1m tall by the end of the season. I’ll post some photos in the future.
We have several garden bees working away on our Permaculture Project. Xylocopa violacea, the violet carpenter bee is one of the largest bees in Europe. These solitary bees hibernate overwinter and emerge in the spring, usually around April or May. The female creates the nest alone. The eggs are laid within a series of small cells, each of which is supplied with a pollen ball for the larvae to feed upon. The adults emerge in late summer then hibernate until the following year. They hibernate in dead wood by boring a tunnel in the material, hence they are called “carpenter bee”. They will use the same nest or an abandoned nest if available, a good reason to leave some old logs around the garden.
Honey bees are loving the Allium schoenoprasum – Chives in the nursery. These bees were moving very slowly over the flowers, almost as if they were drunk on the nectar.