Sunday, 31 August 2014

Its Berry Time Again

To me its just amazing how perennial plants work with such a small input from us. Each year following planting you get an increase in the crop until the plant reaches its full maturity probably anything up to 10 years for the medium and smaller shrubs. So once planted the only intervention required is a bit of mulching, perhaps a dressing of wood ash and a few pees.

The hardest part of the management process is picking and processing.

There are 2 particular crops that have done well with me, the Chokeberry and the  Salal

Lets start with the Purple Chokeberry or Aronia prunifolia var Hugin

3 years ago I purchased 2 plants from the Agroforestry Research Trust and this is what they look like this summer.

I have yet to pick them but of course they have been tasted not only by me but several of my grandchildren and grown up relatives(all of whom seem to be bookmarking regular visits now that the garden is increasing its harvest) all of us agree that they are tasty, juicy and quite sweet and an improvement on the black chokeberries that I already grow. The seeds are so small that you don't notice them and they make fantastic juice which is especially nice combined with apple juice. my 2 bushes are covered with insect netting which has to be done to stop birds and wasps getting them. I will pick them during September as they improve if left on the plant a little longer.

Now for the Salal or Gaultheria Shallon
I have one plant that is now also 3 years with me, again acquired from ART. It is in semi shade behind a damson tree and has trebled in size in that time suckering freely which is what I wanted it to do. Its productivity has matched its spread giving an abundance of purple blueberry size fruits with a mild sweet taste. Whats more they ripen over time, meaning that there is a picking from June right through to the first frosts. For me this a most underated plant that deserves much more prominence.

So far I have picked just over a Kg with at least as much still on the bush quite amazing for such a small amount of space which wouldn't be as productive with any other plant that I know of. Quite simply the best effective and productive ground cover for shady places.
Eco Corner
How is that compost loo going then!!
Hard to see it now that the coppice willow has done its thing.
July 2013
August 2014

Just one year ago Jamie Miller of built me a superb compost loo from local timbers and using traditional hand tools and methods.
It has it is true to say been well used and I have just reached the big changeover so there in one chamber sits a year of poo which will compost away and be removed next August to spread around the trees and the other anticipating its first offerings and so it will go on.
It also has a pee separator and my first 5 litres of this wonderful fertiliser is already blessing the trees and shrubs.
So its an eco building with an eco lifestyle giving me added nutrients to go with the wood ash and nitrogen fixers that abound in the FG.
How long will it be till composting toilet systems are designed within our houses, after all the waste of water flushing millions of toilets every day just isn't sustainable is it?
Next time the spotlight will be on the nuts I grow here especially the Butternut and Chesnut.