Last week was the closing week of the Polyculture Study for this season – and what a season it’s been thanks to all of the awesome people that have joined us this year. We’re so grateful that people from all over the world participate in the project with such enthusiasm and help us on our quest to develop and promote practices that provide food and other resources while enhancing biodiversity. Thank you so much to the crew of 2019, it’s been an absolute pleasure.
The Polyculture Study Crew of 2019
Ronan Delente – Michael Krack – Leonie Steinherr – Ben Peirson – Lilly Clark – Martin Votava – Amy Brangwyn – Eileen Wylicil – Tobi and Christina.Ruchel – Karo Castro-Wunsch – Kiki Ami – Maria Cruz – Shahara Khaleque – Jolanda de Rooij – Paul Vdsande – Simon Leupi – Eva Goldmann – Ryan Sapsed – Rowan Brooks – Joana de Melo Sampaio
and special thanks to the core team who have been with us from the start to the finish of the season;
So here’s what we’ve been up to in the gardens in our final week.
A New Garden – Prokopê
Lea and Ben making a topo survey of the plot and pegging out five contour lines across the area in order to establish irrigation channels, bed layout and plant spacing.
Crataegus – Hawthorn growing under a Field Maple
There are also a number of young Juglans regia – Persian Walnut and one large Walnut tree and a few Acer campestre – Field Maple
I also photographed the herb layer for autumn flowering plants and will carry on with botany surveys in the following seasons to get a fuller picture of the herb and bulb diversity on the site.
Propagating Currants – Hard Wood Cuttings
We have been pruning and propagating Ribes nigrum cv.- Blackcurrant and Ribes rubrum cv. – Red currant this week. For pruning currants it’s good to remove approx. 1/3 of the older stems from the shrub anytime during the Autumn or Winter. Usually you will find 2 or 3 good hard wood cuttings from the pruned stems. The hardwood cutting should be this years growth and are easy to identify by the lighter colour. Ideally the cuttings should be 30 cm long but shorter and longer cuttings will also work. The older stems can be cut into smaller pieces and left on the surface of the bed unless the pruned material is diseased in which case it should be removed from the area. Here are Joana and Ryan taking the cuttings
We prepared a space in a raised bed for the hardwood cuttings, clearing the weeds, digging a 30 cm deep trench and soaking the ground well. We then removed all of the lower leaves from the cuttings and placed them in the trench approx 15 cm apart, watered well and pulled the soil and compost back into the trench to cover the cuttings leaving approx 5- 10 cm of the cuttings exposed. If the cuttings are well watered during dry periods, this time next year the cuttings will have developed roots and can be dug out and transplanted into their permanent positions. Hardwood cuttings from currants is one of the easiest methods of propagation. If you are propagating different cultivars don’t forget to label them well.
Forest Garden Fruits
We’ll probably try a jam this season, just need to work out a fast way to remove the seed.
Rubus fruticosus cv. – Blackberry ‘Reuben’are still flowering, fruiting and ripening. I’m very pleased with this cultivar and will be planting more of it in the gardens. It works well in the under story of a lifted fruit tree as the erect growth of the blackberry finds support on the lower limbs of the tree and there is no need to build support frames for the plants. The below photo shows the fruit ripening among the lower branches of a plum tree.
Sedem telephium – Orpine is flowering, a great bee plant for the end of the season.
It’s been an odd year for our Cornus mas – Cornellian Cherry. with the fruits ripening in late September. The tree was in flower by late February as usual but in previous years the fruits were ripe by the end of August. It’s packed full of fruit this year, perhaps this has delayed the ripening.
Mahonia aquifolium – Oregon Grape berries. An excellent shrub for deep shade providing an early source of nectar and pollen for bees and tasty little berries in the Autumn.