It’s been another hot week here in Shipka. We’ve taken to starting our work in the gardens at 7.30 am to avoid the heat and it’s working well with the fresh and cool mornings.
Tobi and Christina left the week before last back to Germany where they are working on a free range rabbit farm called Mobihasy, rearing rabbits and developing their own buildings and management systems for the operation. Good luck with your project guys and thanks for your help in the gardens.
So here’s what we’ve been up to in the gardens.
Green Manure Trials
Introduction – This spring we started a Green Manure/Cover Crop Trial, a very simple 3 year comparative study where we sow 3 m2 patches of three different Nitrogen fixing ground covers
In July we undertake 5 simple tests. Weather conditions on the day of the tests are recorded (see below)
- Ground Cover – estimation of how much of the bare soil is covered in each patch
- Volunteer Plant /Green Manure Ratio – estimate of the % of volunteer plants there are to the green manure plants in each patch
- Canopy Obs – 5 mins observations counting the number of unique invertebrate species seen within each patch
- Ground Obs – 5 mins observations counting the number of unique invertebrate species seen within the 30 x 30 cm quadrant placed within each patch
- Biomass Weight (g) – Cut all vegetation (green manure and volunteer plants) to ground level and record weight of biomass
|Date – 16/07/19
Time – 11.30 a.m
Temp – 22° C
Weather – Bright and Sunny
Other – Ground well soaked from recent rainfall
|A – Trifolium repens – White Clover|
|1st Cut – 16.07.19|
|Volunteer Plant /Green Manure Ratio||20%|
|Biomass Weight (g)||4225|
|B – Onobrychis viciifolia – Sainfoin|
|Volunteer Plant /Green Manure Ratio||98%|
|Biomass Weight (g)||3585|
|C – Medicago sativa – Alfalfa/Lucerne|
|Volunteer Plant /Green Manure Ratio||30%|
|Biomass Weight (g)||2985|
The results from the first set of tests showed clearly that Trifolium repens – White Clover produced the most biomass and provided the best cover. Very few Onobrychis viciifolia – Sainfoin seeds germinated. This could be because we used husked seed or perhaps the seed was not sown deep enough. The Onobrychis viciifolia – Sainfoin patch was 98% volunteer plants so this plot provided a good example of how the wild vegetation compared to the two other species. It’s worth noting that in terms of biomass weight the wild volunteer plants provided more than the Alfalfa but not as high as the White Clover.
Aponia – The Market Garden
Every year I intend to grow more Melothria scabra – Cucamelon . They are easy to grow from seed and provide delicious refreshing little fruits during the hot months of summer. This year Lily built a frame for the plants and they seem to be establishing well with the first fruits appearing last week.
We have started to bring the water diverted from a mountain stream into the pathways in the veggie garden. The pathways serve as irrigation channels and the water soaks into the raised beds. We’ll leave the water running through the garden overnight.
Beetroots under the shade of Paulownia tomentosa – Foxglove Tree doing well
Ekpyrosis – Forest Garden
We’ve been putting the finishing touches on our new forest garden the last few weeks including the addition of a small wetland area that sits in the middle of the productive beds as seen in the below illustration of the garden. The main purpose of this garden is to grow Vaccinium corymbosum cv. – Blueberry and Rubus idaeus cv. – Raspberry while the wetland should provide habitat support for wildlife such as dragon flies, frogs and hoverfly larvae that should help control pests in the garden.
Forest Garden Plants
Vitex agnus-castus – Chaste Tree in flower. This deciduous shrub is native to the arid and semi arid Mediterranean and Western Asia, and widely cultivated in the warm temperate regions and subtropics. This beautiful plant has a thousand year old history as a pharmaceutical drug, is used to make dyes and provides strong material for basket weaving. The blooms prolong into the autumn and are great nectar providers for honey production and have earned the plant a place in ornamental gardens worldwide..