Permaculture Projects

The Polyculture Project – Week 3

Sea Buckthorn Hedging, Bulbs and Blossoms and Planting Potatoes 

It’s warmed up here in Shipka and it has been a glorious spring week full of blossoms and lush green shoots emerging.  Here are some photos from the forest gardens and what we’ve been up to the last week.

Prunus domestica – ‘Čacanska Lepotica’ flowering in our 2-year-old forest garden in Ataraxia. You can find out more about the design of this forest garden in our previous post here.

Prunus spinosa – Sloe  flowering in patches in Ataraxia

Dylan and Archie planting spuds in a raised bed in Ataraxia.

I planted a short row of Hippophae rhamnoides –  Sea Buckthorn that I intend to prune to form a 80 cm wide and 2m high hedge. A member of the Elaeagnaceae family, the plant associates with Frankia bacteria to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere so the pruning should provide some good Nitrogen inputs into the garden.  I’ve not seen these plants in hedging before but they take well to pruning so should be fine. You can just about  see the plants still in their pots in the below photo. The plants are dioecious so you need a male plant to provide the pollen for the females to produce fruit. I planted 6 females 1m apart in the row and a male plant upwind from the females.

I picked up some Liatris spicata – Gayfeather  starts the other day.  These perennial herbs are a  member of the Asteraceae originally from North America. The plants are hardy to USDA 3-9 so should do well here. They have a long history of medicinal use and are noted to attract wildlife.

The plant flowers in September so we’ll see how our local pollinators respond to these North American newcomers.

Our Tomato seedlings are doing well in the sunroom. Sophie sowed 6 cultivars back in early February and we’ll be starting to plant these out in late April.

Akebia quinata – Chocolate Vine starting to leaf out.

Scilla forbesii, known as Forbes’ glory-of-the-snow, is a bulbous perennial from west Turkey flowering in early spring. The Honey bees have been feeding from the flowers this week now it’s warming up again. We’ll have these beautiful little plants available from the nursery next season.

Prunus cerasifera – Cherry Plum on the front of our house is in full bloom. This tree has yellow plums that ripen earlier than many of the local wild Prunus cerasifera – Cherry Plum.

 Last year it was relatively fruit sparse but this year it’s on its way to producing a bumper crop.

Tulipa sp. – Tulip are emerging all over the garden and should be bursting into flower if the weather remains warm this week. We’ve been spreading them around the garden each year dividing clumps and planting them under and shrubs. The plants take advantage of the light during early spring and will dieback by mid-may providing a great source of biomass to the beds. You can see Vinca minor – Lesser Periwinkle ground cover growing around the tulips.

 

Erysimum cheiri – Aegean Wallflower flower buds ready to emerge

 

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Paul Alfrey

Hi I'm Paul, Originally from the UK I moved over to Bulgaria with my family 12 years ago and set up the Balkan Ecology Project. Prior to that, I worked as a freelance Arborist in the UK for 15 years. Balkan Ecology Project is a family project run by myself, Sophie and our two boys Dylan and Archie, and supported by the amazing volunteers we have hosted here over the years. We aim to develop and promote practices that provide nutritious affordable food while enhancing biodiversity and work to achieve this by: - Researching, designing and implementing systems on the ground - Providing working examples of our designs at our sites open for the public to visit - Providing quality education and training to aspiring growers and landscapers - Providing consultancy and design for landowners and farmers across Europe - Practicing an open source policy, whereby we disseminate our results freely and share all aspects of our work - Growing, selling and promoting the use of plants and plant communities that have high ecological and nutritional value Our activities currently include: Biological Plant Nursery, Educational Courses, Local Land Stewardship, Polyculture Research, Market Gardening​, and Consultancy and Design.

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