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The weather has affected me in a similar way to many growers around the country, but has not ‘wrecked’ the polyculture experiment completely. Autumn sown onions are ready to lift, along with garlic planted at the same time. I felt that it was a little early, but a check back through old blog posts suggests that this is a similar time to last year. Some of the sunflowers in the polyculture have been wrecked by slugs, but most are OK. Pictures below. The worst damage has been to the grain, much of which has been blown over. Again, pictures below.

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Onion Polyculture

Onion Polyculture

The picture above shows the Autumn onions, with the Spring sown onions in the bed to the left. These are not ready yet. Until I harvest them, I will not know whether there has been any beneficial effect from using the Echinacea.

Vegetable Grain Polyculture

Vegetable Grain Polyculture

The picture above is of one of the polyculture beds. It has perennial rye, corn, cosmos, and breadseed poppies. The clover under story has been eaten by slugs, and I will sow again later. The corn is a flour corn, and is coping with the conditions, but not really thriving. The cosmos has been pretty resistant to slugs, which is useful. I want to observe how attractive to honeybees it is, before deciding whether to grow it again, or not.

Vegetable Grain Polyculture

Vegetable Grain Polyculture

The picture above is a polyculture of perennial rye, oilseed sunflowers, bladder senna, and cosmos. The sunflower is already in bloom, although as I mentioned earlier, the slugs have eaten a few. They have also destroyed the clover under story. The rye was looking a little spindly before, but is filling out nicely now. The picture below is of the same area from a different angle.

Vegetable Grain Polyculture

Vegetable Grain Polyculture

Not looking spindly is the annual grain, in the Bonfils trial beds. The picture below shows the grain a few weeks ago.

Small scale grain growing

Rye and Spelt

A month is a long time, and it’s been a month since this picture was taken. here are the beds as of a few days ago.

Vegetable Grain Polyculture

Vegetable Grain Polyculture

The picture above is the annual rye. It has taken a battering from the wind and rain, with much of it having been blown over. It is a tribute to its vigour that it has continued to grow up towards the light, so is now shaped like a banana, and the heads are still at head height. It’s likely that the fertility of this bed was too fertile for the grain, and I may need to use a heavy feeder prior to planting the grains in future.

Vegetable Grain Polyculture

Vegetable Grain Polyculture

The mass of green here is annual spelt, and chicory. The chicory is about to flower, and needs to be cut back. Like the annual rye, the spelt has been blown over. This will make it dificult to plant the next grain crop, which is due to be sown in the gaps now. I’m going to sow the grain in modules to det them started, and then cut back the chicory before planting out.

Also under way is my training of my chickens. My young birds are eating slugs, chicory, comfrey, ground elder, dandelion, Himalayan Balsam, and wilted nettles. Incorporating them into this system is the next step.

Wishing you well

Deano