Apple harvest

We took David Pennell’s advice and removed a large proportion of the small apples over the summer so that more energy could be directed towards growth rather than fruit production.

The trees that fruited best were: Red Devil, Pixie and Charles Ross

A beautiful Charles Ross apple

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Harvest 2015

A terrific year for gooseberries and currants – black, red and white.
Our first Mirabelle plums.

Most of our gages were taken by parakeets (we think) just as they ripened.

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Dot and Christina picking currants

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Nell and Duncan’s wedding cake decorated with our white currants

Orchid -Forest Garden
And a good year for pyramid orchids. At least 8 appeared among the long grass.

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Pond

We still haven’t got a water supply for the pond and luckily the late summer rain came just in time before we had to top it up with tap water.

The pond vegetation is doing well: water crowfoot, broad-leaved pond weed, water forget-me-not, purple loosestrife, willow herb, water buttercup and flags.

No sign of our newts.
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June 2015

David Pennell, who advised us on our original selection of fruit trees, came to see how our trees were doing.
He found that the less robust apple trees were suffering from aphid damage and would benefit from a dressing of organic chicken manure pellets. He said bug hotels would be a good idea.

At this stage with young trees we should be fairly ruthless in taking off a lot of small apples. Most of their energy should be going into growth not fruit production.

He is also going to advise us on taking soil samples so that we can monitor soil improvements as the forest garden matures.

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Planting the ground layer

The lengths of black woven fabric which we used as a sheet mulch worked well. We spread some garden compost and planted a number of herbs in 2014-15: chives, thyme, rosemary, sorrel, fennel, sweet cicely, marjoram, winter savoury, various mints and comfrey.

The poppies and fennel did very well. We wait to see what has survived into 2016.
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We planted another bed with perennial kale, under-planted with mint and other aromatics to deter the cabbage white butterflies. This seems to have helped as only a few kale leaves were eaten by caterpillars.

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Mulch change

Having used cardboard as a mulch very successfully from the early days of planting we are now finding that badgers or foxes (or both) are finding lovely stores of worms under the cardboard. The result has been cardboard scattered over the field. We are now mulching with PAS100 composted green waste and our own shredded wood offcuts.

Photo: VAP volunteers helping with mulching

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Forest Garden in flower

The apple Red Devil is the first in blossomApple- Red Devil, Forest Garden

Siberian pea in flower

Siberian Pea - Forest Garden

Autumn olive in flower

Autumn Olive in Flower- Forest Garden

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Bees are back

February 3rd – A new colony, kindly donated by a friend, arrived at the Quadrangle after a journey from Bristol. They are now in position in the orchard and the hive is wrapped up in wire netting to deter woodpeckers.
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June Permablitz – Forest garden and soil fertility

Back in June, The Quadrangle Trust teamed up with Natural Flow for our first permablitz. It was a great success with 16 people joining us for the fun.

Enjoyed hands on making compost and hands on digging up microbes, stocking and feeding microbes to tree. Very valuable experiences which I’ll remember for years! – student quote

Enjoying a plate of lunch

Enjoying a plate of lunch

The focus of the day were some of the all important themes of forest gardening, understanding soil and building fertility. People witnessed the ever evolving forest garden, we shared a delicious lunch time spread and rounded off the day with a summer evening dip in the river.

As the designer in residence in the forest garden, Natural Flow will continue to bring more permaculture design thinking to this wonderful ex-working dairy farm only an hour from London while organising future events.

 

What is a Permablitz?

Permablitz is a coming together of people with a focused intention to get something done using the art and design science that is permaculture. “Blitz” means lightning strike, so yes, we like to make these events:

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  • focused and intensive
  • learn about permaculture through skill sharing and mini workshops
  • a group sharing of ideas, food and FUN

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Find out more about the growing movement in London here.

Actions of the Day

Outline of the day's event

Outline of the day’s event

To create an inclusive atmosphere in our workshops we collaborated with our team on the day to co-create the event and intersperse work with learning and some relaxation time too to allow people to get to know each other.– student quote

“Creating the structure of the day at the beginning was great. Moving between activities and ‘learning on the job’ rather than being ‘taught’. Seeing it in all in action, in real life! Oh, and of course the beautiful sunshine helped too.” – student quote

Encouraging observation

Encouraging observation

 

 

 

I encourage people getting stuck in and using their own senses to make observations. Here, one of our French contingent made the observation that “the aroma is exactly like the last pressing of the grape harvest when wine making!” Thus using the sense of smell is an indicator that this congealed mass has a healthy population of friendly microbes present.

Turning compost

Turning compost

 

 

 

 

 

Turning compost can be back breaking however many hands make light work and it was a great opportunity to learn about the composition of good compost and make observations about what we can see in the pile.

I enjoyed the ‘re-enlivening’ of the compost heap! It was interesting to learn a bit about the microbes. Overall, the day felt relaxed. – student quote

 

 
Competing with grass and developing a fungally dominated soil is an on going process. Here we are feeding our tree with microbes we bred ourselves, clovers to fix nitrogen and cardboard to arrest the growth of the grass.

group effort

group effort

 

It was a relaxed and easy going atmosphere. Kevin welcomed questions and participation from all of us. I learnt new techniques that I will hope to use for my own garden.– student quote

Finally, after a solid day of getting stuff done, sharing and enjoying good company, we ended the day enjoying the good vibes of The Quadrangle before packing up.

 

TIme for some relaxation

Time for some relaxation

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Kevin Mascarenhas from Natural Flow

We are delighted that Kevin Mascarenhas from Natural Flow has agreed to join us as a forest garden designer and teacher in residence. He will be giving us professional advice and practical help with the ongoing design, implementation and management and help us create
– A sustainable and productive orchard
– A haven for wildlife
– An outdoor classroom and resource for the teaching of permaculture.

We’ve been working with Kevin in 2014. Photo above from our forest garden permablitz in June.

We are looking forward to developing this exciting new partnership.

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