Permaculture Projects

The Polyculture Project 2020 – Week 9

Medlars in the Forest Garden, Bulgarian Honey Garlic under Figs and Wild Flower Meadows

Wow, that week went super fast. It’s been hot and still here the last week, threatening to rain but never delivering which is odd for May as it’s usually one of our wettest months. We spent most of the week working in the home garden Apatheia, propagating plants for the nursery, planting out the Tomatoes (now the chance of late frost is unlikely) and chop and dropping in the perennial beds of the forest garden. Here are some photos from the gardens and what we’ve been up to this week.


Allium neapolitanum – Daffodil Garlic,  another of the new Alliums we’re growing.  A perennial bulbous plant native to the Mediterranean from Portugal to Turkey. Delicious flowers :) 

Here are the flowers with an unidentified fly (Diptera) that appears to be stuck to the petal via its proboscis. I’m not sure what’s going on there?

Orange-tip Butterfly- Anthocharis cardamines feeding on the nectar of some Kohlrabi plants that we did not harvest last season. The flowers and flower buds are delicious and make a welcome snack whenever passing by. 

Mespilus germanica – Medlar is one of my favourite trees in the garden. It grows at a steady pace and never becomes overwhelming, tolerates (even appreciates) a little shade and I’ve never known any of the trees in our gardens or in the surrounding area to be troubled by pest and disease. As the plant matures it often develops a quirky lean and reliably turns out plenty of deliciously unusual fruits right up until Christmas. The spring flowers are graceful and emerge in stages. I had the opportunity to photograph the flowers in different stages from a plant we planted in Aponia about 5 years ago.

Mespilus germanica – Medlar flowering in the Forest Garden 

Mespilus germanica – Medlar
 fruits in late September in the forest garden

I’m enjoying some quick stir-fries from the garden. I grab a few handfuls of Allium tuberosum  – Garlic Chives and Rumex patientia –  a few sprigs of Satureja montana – Winter Savory and Origanum vulgare – Pot Marjora and some  Asparagus officinalis – Asparagus spears., dice it, fry it with a few duck eggs and some bacon and that’s lunch:)

Viburnum opulus ‘Xanthocarpum’ – Guelder Rose flowering. Good fruit for the birds during the early winter.

Nectaroscordum siculum – Bulgarian Honey Garlic are in flower and what a wonderful flower it is. I love the way the inflorescence tower above the other vegetation on these plants. I’ve been dotting them around the garden over the years and the effect is quite striking. We’re experimenting with these plants for pest control (as a pest confuser) given how powerful the sulfur-containing compounds are in these plants – more on that hereThese plants are also responsible for a national treasure here in Bulgaria, Samardala (Самардала)  a spice/seasoning often used in cooking.
Here’s a patch of them strutting their stuff under a Ficus carica cv. – Fig

Sophie sowed some Chickpea – Cicer arietinum that I planted out the other day on the edge of an Asparagus officinalis – Asparagus patch. Beautiful plant and probably fixing some Nitrogen too.

Early morning in the garden with the ducks. They like grazing the Trifolium repens – White Clover that we’ve sown into the lawn.

Always a pleasure to watch the wildflower meadows changing from week to week this time of year. Greater stitchwort – Stellaria holostea is the star of the show at the moment

As well as the changes from week to week meadows in the different gardens also feature different dominant species and this is probably due to the different way the meadows are managed. The above photo is from a meadow cut for hay twice a year, with some cattle and horse grazing in early Autumn and the meadow below is grazed by a small flock of sheep pretty much all season. The soils are more or less the same in both locations.

Elaeagnus umbellata – Autumn Olive seed sown last autumn and transplanted into a nursery bed 3 weeks ago by Dylan are doing well. The strongest of these seedlings will be over 60 cm tall by the end of the summer and 4 – 5 years from now will be producing their own fruits.


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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles

Back to top button