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The Polyculture Market Garden Study–Results From Year 4–2018

THE POLYCULTURE MARKET GARDEN STUDY – RESULTS FROM YEAR 4 – 2018

HERE ARE THE RESULTS FROM THE FOURTH YEAR OF OUR MARKET GARDEN POLYCULTURE STUDY. THIS STUDY LOOKS AT THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN GROWING ANNUAL VEGETABLES AND HERBS IN POLYCULTURES VS GROWING THEM IN  TRADITIONAL BLOCKS.

In this post you will find an overview of the trial garden and the polycultures we are growing, a description of what we record and the 4th year results from the trial. You can find results from previous seasons here.

First of all we’d like to say a huge thank you to the team of volunteers that joined us for the study this year and that make it possible for us to carry out our experiments and research. It was a pleasure to work together with you. Thank you Victoria Bezhitashvili, Angela Rice, Malcolm Cannon, Elise Bijl, Alex Camilleri, Daniel Stradner, Emilce Nonquepan, Ezekiel Orba and Chris Kirby Lambert.

It was a great a mix of people from all over the world including university students, a crypto fund manager, ex-nintendo web editor and market gardeners. Thank you all for your valuable input, it was our pleasure to host you and we look forward to seeing you again some day.

The Polyculture Study 2018 Team

GARDEN OVERVIEW

Location: Bulgaria, Shipka
​Climate: Temperate
Köppen Climate Classification – Dfc borderline Cfb
USDA Hardiness Zone: 5b – 7a
Latitude: 42°
Elevation: 565 m
Average Annual Rainfall: 588.5 mm
Prevailing Wind: NW & NE
Garden Name: Aponia – Polyculture Market Garden

 

The six longer beds in the left hand corner of the photo on the right (the Aceaes) are the trial beds, the focus of this study.You can find the location of the Polyculture Market Garden on google maps here (labelled as Aponia on our Project map)

Garden area: 256.8 m2
Cultivated beds area: 165.6 m2
Paths: 50 cm wide – 91.2 m2
Bed Dimensions – 23 m x 1.2 m  Area – 27.6 m2 per bed
Number of beds: 6

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How to Make Your Garden Have Less Weeds?

HOW TO MAKE YOUR GARDEN HAVE LESS WEEDS?

In crop gardens, we sometimes get into a spatial race with weeds, and the solution is to replace the weeds with “designed weeds” to take up the space. This can be done with green manure mulches to fertilize the gardens and supply quality mulch. This is an example of how understanding the inner workings of weeds allows us to harmonize with natural systems to both repair the earth and create production for ourselves.

It’s important to understand that the term “weed” is applied to any plant that isn’t wanted in a particular area. While we now call dandelions weeds, they once were sought-after greens. Banana trees are so prone to take root in the tropics that someone might consider them a weed, removing them from the yard, though they are the best-selling fruit in the world. The point is that just because we call a plant a weed doesn’t mean it lacks value. “Weeds” can be useful, or they can be prevented. Often, it’s us, as cultivators, who make and foster these choices or pick our small battles.

Mulch – The best way to have a weed-free garden is to prevent them in the first place, and organic mulch is probably the best way to go about that. Thickly (about 5-10 cm) mulch gardens with straw or leaves to effectively suppress weeds, and those weeds that do make it through are much more easily pulled. Not only will mulching help with weeds, but it’ll reduce the need to water, support soil life, and prevent erosion. Ultimately, the mulch will break down and continually replenish and improve the soil.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Growing Grains at the Home-Scale Farm

GROWING GRAINS AT THE HOME-SCALE FARM

I dream of growing grains, of being so far down the line in establishing a kitchen garden, a vegetable garden, a food forest, that time can be allocated to developing a system for handling the cereal part of the food supply. Well, let me put that differently: I aspire to get to that project one day, and from time to time, I do catch myself daydreaming and wondering just how it’ll work. Today, this morning, is one of those times.

Now, the truth of the situation, at least from what I deduced, is that producing fruits and vegetables and adopting a diet centered around them is more proximately realistic than growing my own wheat or rice. In large part, I’m on my way. The vegetable garden produced well over the summer such that the pantry has a nice stock of relishes, stewed items, and pickles, and the freezer is stuffed with bags of green beans, okra, and pesto ice cubes. We foraged serious quantities of wild mushrooms and persimmons. We have a box of sweet potatoes and another of autumn squashes. With some tweaks and natural growths (in area), those gardens will be there to provide substenance. With our new property finally purchased, fruit trees and berry bushes will hopefully start this spring. In other words, I can truly visualize how this side of things will get going. It won’t end the way I see it now, but the general direction is real.

Home-scale grain systems, however, elude me. Other than growing some amaranth this year, what amounted to about a pound of dried seed, I have no real experience with producing grain.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Backyard Chickens, and the Interconnectedness of All Things, Part 3

BACKYARD CHICKENS, AND THE INTERCONNECTEDNESS OF ALL THINGS. PART 3

This article is Part 3 of a Series that is mostly about chickens. It’s not a how-to-care-for-chickens article, but a how-to-appreciate-the-specialness-of-chickens article.

If you are interested only in chickens and would like to read about the funny things one of our roosters gets up to, this article will be fine to read by itself.

But if you missed the earlier articles in the series, and you’re interested in what backyard chickens have to do with the interconnectedness of all things, you’ll need to go back to the beginning of Part 1.

ROOSTERS ARE A LOT OF FUN TO WATCH

Roosters are gentle, generous, and protective, particularly as they get older, feel they have their place well established, and don’t have to compete with other roosters for space or mates.

They show the hens all the good things to eat that they find, calling them and sharing the food in a similar way to how a mother hen shares with her chicks. And they come running to defend the hens when they hear one in distress.

Rooster and hens, midday siesta

In our flock of about 30 hens, there are currently three adult roosters. The oldest has his own family group of hens who go with him to forage in the same areas each day, to rest in the same shady spots, to dust bath in their designated dust baths.

The other two are younger, and very different. One, a large white rooster who stars in the stories I’ll share below, seems to be where-ever there is food to share with hens, or where-ever there are good spots for hens to lay eggs.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

PERENNIAL POLYCULTURES AND THE RICHNESS OF DIVERSITY

PERENNIAL POLYCULTURES AND THE RICHNESS OF DIVERSITY

THE WAY NATURE PROVIDES

Imagine walking down a country road. On one side of the road, you see acres and acres of corn grown in neat rows. On the other side of the road stands an old-growth forest filled with towering trees and a thick underbrush. If you were to ask anyone which side of the road produced the most food, almost everyone would say that the cornfield is a symbol of abundance; and while the forest might be pretty, it is simply not productive.

We have been taught that food can only be grown in orderly rows and that the wildness of nature might be pretty but simply can´t provide for our well-being and sustenance. Imagine, now, that you turn off that country road and begin to walk through the old growth forest. Underneath a pine tree, you might find thousands of pine nuts scattered on the ground. Oyster and shitake mushrooms sprout from decaying logs while a flush of morel mushrooms blooms in a patch of fallen leaves.

A wild blueberry bush provides fresh fruit in a clearing while currants grow well in the shade of the larger trees. You might even come across a gnarly, old apple tree providing an abundant crop. The thick forest provides a great habitat for deer, turkey, and other tasty wildlife as well. Hundreds of other less known edible greens may make up part of the ground cover of the forest floor.

Nature always tends towards abundance, though it may not be the neat and orderly abundance that we see in the cornfield. The production of edible foodstuffs in an old growth forest may very well outcompete the cornfield on a calorie by calorie basis.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Learning More on How to Think About Soil

Seedling & Soil

LEARNING MORE ON HOW TO THINK ABOUT SOIL

Obviously, I’ve not been unaware of the importance of healthy soils, and by happenstance, I’ve probably even managed to make a good deal of it. But, my technique has largely been based on adding a steady supply of organic carbon and nitrogen matter, mostly in the form of brown leaves, boxes and newspaper to layers of manure, household veggie scraps, and fresh cut greens. I stack them atop earth and begin building layers of soil, usually doing an initial cover crop of legumes that get chopped-and-dropped. I probably would have stopped to learn more before now had the system not worked—though slow—as well as it does.

But, this morning I learned a new way—very practical and familiar—of looking at soil. Firstly, Lawton explained the necessities of minerals beyond just NPK, using a wonderful analogy with the modern food system and its effects on people. Then, he explained pH balance, something I’ve never spent a lot of time addressing, save for avoiding certain things that have been reported to me as overly acidic.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

DIY Antibiotics

Garlic Tower Planter

DIY ANTBIOTICS

Watch this short 2:31 video by backyard food production expert and author Marjory Wildcraft on DIY antibiotics.

Most people will want to do this in their backyards, on a patio, or rooftop. No, you won’t need a laboratory or chemistry set. No, you won’t need microscopes or chemicals. Nope, you won’t even need a spectrum analyzer or centrifuge. You won’t even need a degree in biochemistry or organic formulations.

This particular antibiotic not only helps boost your immune system for any time you have an infection, but it is also good for when you have a cold, it’s known to help lower cholesterol and high blood pressure, it’s been known to help balance blood sugar, fight cancer, and fungus. Yet it is completely natural.

Marjory will host a free online event from March 7th – 13th, which features 30 backyard farming experts who will reveal secrets to growing your own gorgeous organic fruit, vegetables, herbs, wildflowers, livestock, even bees all in your own backyard!

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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