Permaculture Projects

The Polyculture Project 2020 – Week 19

A Vegetable and Herb Polyculture, Five Layers from the Forest Garden and Summer Fruits

With the forest garden churning out new delights and the successful hatching of broody duck number two’s eggs, it’s been a productive week here at the project.  The annual vegetables are flourishing and the first hint of autumn is in the air with the swelling walnuts. Welcome to week 19 – The Polyculture Project.

The forest garden continues to keep giving, with berries mainly giving way to figs, pears and cherry plums. The blackberries are the thornfree cultivar, yielding an abundance of juicy blackberries from July-Sep even under fruit trees in the semi-shade.  Being a vigorous plant, it provides a good amount of mulch material and/or animal fodder when pruning time comes around.   Check out our range of fruit and nut cultivars available from our nursery this season.



Lupin – Lupinus polyphyllus grown from seed saved by Sophie’s mum. This ornamental plant provides food for a range of useful pollinators, has good polyculture potential, and as with many plants from the Fabaceae family, can fix atmospheric nitrogen. In fact, Lupins are somewhat up and coming in this area, and although it seems more research is needed in this area, findings from this 2016 study are encouraging.


It looks like an excellent year for Juglans regia. Walnuts are monoecious, but the time the pollen sheds from the male flower does not always overlap well with the time of female flower receptivity to pollen. This condition is referred to as dichogamy. To overcome this problem growers can select another walnut cultivar (a pollinator) the male flowers of which open at the same time as the female flowers from the main cultivar. The pollinator should be situated upwind from the main crop. If you have other walnuts upwind from your site, as we do here, you should not have problems with this.

If you are interested in finding out more about Walnuts, you can check out our previous blog posts here and here. We also offer a range of cultivars from our nursery and we are taking orders now for this autumn.

Cornus kuosa – Korean dogwood

Basil – Ocimum basilicum growing in our annual polyculture, Zeno


A couple of weeks ago, the participants of our Regenerative Landscape Design – Online Interactive Course were designing annual polycultures for a Week 11 exercise. I’ve included below a great  example from one of the participants, Kate Goater.  Kate says, “This annual vegetable polyculture is designed to provide a reliable harvest of kale, french dwarf beans, spinach and garlic. The primary goal is to establish a permanent vegetable bed that makes use of the growing space throughout all seasons.” Running through the centre of the bed are perennial herbs that are not only useful in the kitchen but are selected to provide support to the Brassica crops.

We’re looking forward to seeing this polyculture come to life in the future with some photos from Kate tracking its progress. Thank you Kate.


Photos from the Forest Garden
Below is a labeled photograph of a 5 layer polyculture we have growing in an open area of our forest garden.

The bulb layer cannot be seen as it has died off now and consists of Tulipa sp. – Tulip – Nectaroscordum siculum – Bulgarian Honey GarlicMuscari neglectum– Grape Hyacinth and Narcissus poeticus – Poet’s Narcissus. We’re looking forward to planting some of our new Allium spp. into the available space this autumn.

There is also a new layer that has emerged over the last few weeks – a third duck nesting in there with eggs due to hatch in 2 weeks or so :)
A side note that you may find interesting. The Spartium junceum was reduced by approx 50% in early spring of this year and the regrowth has produced flowers that have just opened. Normally this plant flowers in early June. A second Spartium junceum I pruned at the same time that was in a more shady position did not produce any flowers.

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