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Forest Garden Update

Spring harvest
Spring harvest

Three years on and my garden beginning to come alive!! A year ago the insects moved in big time, now the birds are moving in, I guess there is enough habitat for them to set up safe homes and plenty of food to boot (insects).

My forest garden has been a lot of joy this spring with the support species making their presence stronger and stronger each year.

  1. The tagasaste are the first in midwinter to open their blossoms and put out an incredible scent for months, this year bringing in the bellbirds and the tui for the first time. They are always full of bees and insects, and the bumblebees early every morning and late into the evening every day.
  2. Next to bloom were the eleagnus flowers, far out! They are such a joy every spring, with their heady, rich pervasive scent which also brings in the insects and life.
  3. Next came the Siberian pea trees, slower growing but with dainty feathery leaves and stunning bright yellow pea-like flowers followed by small tiny pods hanging like kowhai pods do in large bunches.
  4. They are followed by the Tree Medick, which flowered here for the first time this spring. If I thought the others were amazing this capped them all. The Tree Medick scent is super pervasive, and has been around us now for weeks. The colour is a vibrant yellow, and the bushes are smothered in flowers for weeks. They are just now turning into pods, and their job of attracting insects and bring in life has been overtaken by the incredible tree lupins, who form these great mounds of yellow flowers where the chickens love to hide, and rest and also scratch.
  5. The spring symphony of legumes is so strong the fruiting bushes are quite forgotten.

Remember, our February catalogue will be full of Forest Garden/Orchard information including our new forest garden support tree seed list for the first time.

If you are going to be planting a forest garden next winter or begin turning your orchard into a forest garden then sign up for membership now and have access to the best deals we offer, as well as the latest information.

In the mean time, I suggest you get a copy of Design Your Own Orchard and the Koanga Design Your Own Forest Garden Booklet, to be ready to do an amazing job of your own forest garden.

Looking into my forest garden
Looking into my forest garden

Year 3 in Kay’s Forest Garden

This is a list of what we are working with so far, on our 900 sq m forest garden with chicken constantly underneath as one of the most important outputs (eggs and meat). I’m going to put this up annually so we can see over time how this list changes. I imagine we will continue to diversify and add species as we find them, and some will prove to fit better than others.

Forest Garden Support Species

Nitrogen fixers

  1. Tree lupin (40) chook food
  2. Tree medick (2) chook food
  3. Lespedeza (4) chook food
  4. Eleagnus multiflora (2) human and chook food
  5. Eleagnus augustifolia (2) human and chook food
  6. Tagasaste (15) chicken food
  7. Viburnum (1)
  8. Alfalfa (chook food)
  9. Clover (chook food)
  10. Maakia amurensis (2)
  11. Seabuckthorn (2) human and chook food)
  12. Acacia retinoides (5) chook)
  13. Casurina (1)
  14. Kowhai (1)

Minerals accumulators

  1. Alfalfa
  2. Comfrey
  3. Cardoon (20)
  4. cornus spp ( Siberian dogwood, mas etc) (4) human/chook food berries

Fruiting Trees

Cherry x 2
Apricot x 1
Lemon x 1
Orange x 1
Mandarin x 2
Feijoa x 3
Fig x1
Chokeberry x 20
Arguta kiwi fruit x 5
Apple x 5
Damson x 1
Peach x 3
Nectarine x 1
Plum x 1
Prune x 2
Mulberry x 1

Sweet delicious rhubarb!
Sweet delicious rhubarb!

Perennial Vege

My perennial bed is also strongly producing now, we are picking globe artichokes every day along with asparagus and Welsh Bunching onions, Multiplying Spring onions, Seakale, which is delicious and Rhubarb. Next year we might have strong enough Giant Solomon’s Seal to be able to pick a little of that too. The perennial Runner beans are about to flower so the first green beans are not far off as well. (It is not too late to plant perennial runner beans)

A good time to begin thinking about your perennial garden is right now, as soon as you get your major spring plantings in. There is a new chapter in the new edition of the Koanga Garden Guide on perennials so get into that to do your planning and check out our perennials section where you can get your seeds and starts from.

 Vege Garden

My garden always suffers in spring because I’m always teaching the 10 week Spring Internship. This year Bob has had more time to help me and it is emerging again now as a pretty amazing summer garden. I bit the bullet this season and invested in some professional quality cloches, and that has already paid off. My potatoes are well up and flowering and still covered by hoops and frost cloth. My tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and pumpkins have all been started under cloches. The cloches are still over them and will be until all danger of frost is past, which for us is early December!!! It is quite a lot of daily work opening and shutting them…but in such a short growing season the rewards will be a far larger harvest of otherwise marginal crops.

We’re eating our rocombole garlic flowers now, rocombole garlic is worth planting because of that alone, but also has the advantage of being ready to harvest a month before soft top garlic. Order now to ensure you get your seed in autumn.

The big decision I’ve made this month is to use our Koanga Balance to protect my tomatoes and potatoes against psyllid and blight this year. It’s always a big decision and in the past few years I’ve used Koanga Psyllid Solution as we do in the Koanga Seed gardens. Koanga Psyllid solution is the best solution I knew of until Grant at Environmental Fertilisers explained to me that Koanga Balance is a 100% biological product made up entirely of microbes and fungi should do the same job! There is no worry about killing bees and other insects as with diatomaceous earth in psyllid solution, which is possible. Koanga Balance is a leading edge biological product that is being used in the kiwi fruit industry against psyllid. If it works there so I see no reason why it can’t work for home gardeners on potatoes and tomatoes. I’m giving it a go this year! And we’ll continue with Psyllid solution in the Koanga Seed garden until we see how this works, and compare the results.

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