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Alright, alright, it’s been a while since my last post, but it’s hectic. I thought that I would post a few pictures of my polyculture experiment, to show you how things are progressing, which on the whole, is well.

As you can see from the picture below, the Bonfils grain growing has been awesome.

Small scale grain growing

Rye and Spelt

As you look at the picture, the spelt is on your left, and the rye is on your right. The rye is already flowering, and continuing to grow. In this picture the rye is already above my head, and the spelt has put on another 6 inches of growth in the last week, since this picture was taken.

This is all part of my bonfils grain growing experiment, and vegetable polyculture. These plants are growing with an understory of clover and chicory. I have cut the understory back already, as I had used too much chicory, and will thin it out eventually.

In the long term I’m going to use chickens to do this. I was initially concerned that the chickens may have damaged the growing grain, but the stalks are really substantial, and I think that it’s unlikely that they will cause any harm. To help this along I am training young chickens to eat slugs and the groundcover component, especially the chicory. The picture below is of some Old English Game chicks, with their foster mum.

Old English Game Chicks

Old English Game Chicks

These birds have been reared by a broody, so are a bit wary, and have not been ‘trained’, but I have a younger batch that were hatched in an incubator, and I am mum. So what I give them they eat. They are only three weeks old, can eat one inch long slugs whole, and cut sections of larger ones. They like them so much that some fly onto my hand to get theirs first. As well as slugs and chicory, they are also getting comfrey. This is to allow me to use it as a significant part of their diet, helping to reduce the amount of poultry food that I buy.

Having started the Bonfils experiment, I was able to get hold of some perennial wheat and rye. Martin Crawford’s new book, How to Grow Perennial Vegetables, suggests growing these at  a spacing of 12 inches/30 centimeters. I decided to grow them at the Bonfils spacing of 2 feet/60 cm. This gives me more space to grow a second crop. The picture below shows the first of these polycultures to be planted up.

Polyculture of perennial rye

Polyculture of perennial rye

These beds consist of a bicrop of perennial rye, Hungarian oilseed sunflowers, interplanted with bladder senna, and cosmos, and have been undersown with crimson clover. The outputs are food for people, chickens, and bees, biomass for composting/fertility building, Nitrogen fixation, and beauty. The link below is a table showing the outputs that I have designed this polyculture for.

Polyculture functions

Over the next week I will be planting up the other polyculture beds, and will post more pictures as I get the opportunity.

Wishing you well