Sunday, 8 November 2009

Perennial Leeks

Perennial leeks taste like every day leeks, but they have bulbs and give side shoots, forming perennial clumps which spread and are very resistent to drought or frost. This is a must have for permaculture and perennial vegetables enthusiasts.

Walking Onions and other relatives

Another "must have" for Permaculture enthusiasts are Walking Onions, also known as Egyptian Onions (Allium proliferum). These are perfectly normal onions which give flowering tips which produce bulbs which fall and give way to new onion plants, hence the reason for its name for the plant that seems to walk through the garden!

The bulbs are however small.
Perhaps even more interesting (although I don't own these yet) are Multiplier Onions (Allium cepa aggregatum), which produce bigger bulbs in clumpings. Both species are edible and taste like onions.

Welsh onions (Allium fistulosum), Ramsons (Allium ursinum) and Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) are other perennial options. Chives taste wonderful in omelletes. Ramsons can grow native in shade in European forests and give many white flowers in spring; the plants look very similar to other poisonous species like the Lily-of-the-valley, but they have a strong smell of garlic.

Danger of wrong identification of wild carrot family herbs

Whenever you go finding and identifying wild edible herbs, you must be very careful in the proper identification of species from the carrot (Apiaceae) family.

Never collect and eat plants from this family from the wild, since some are very similar between each other and also very poisonous. They can be frightening similar to parsley, chervil, carrots or parsnips. Some even smell carrot-like and have sweet flavours! Nevertheless, small ammounts can cause death by muscle paralysis.
Some examples are:
  • Fool's Parsley, Aethusa cynapium
  • Hemlock, Conium maculatum
  • Water dropwort, Oenanthe crocata
  • Water hemlock, Cicuta spp.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

List of our (easy to grow) perennial vegetables

Permaculture is great!
Contact if you are interested in getting these.
  • Good King Henry
  • Nettles
  • Tiger Nuts
  • Jerusalem Artichokes
  • Chinese Artichokes
  • Skirret
  • Taro
  • Yacon
  • Horseradish
Our annual vegetables
  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Cucumbers
  • Squash
  • Pumpkin
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Lettuce
  • Rocket
  • Spinach
  • Endive
  • Chicory
  • Celery
  • Celeriac
  • Kohl-rabi
  • Turnip
  • Root parsley
  • Brocculi
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Garlic
  • Wild garlic
  • Potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Parsnip
  • Salfisy
  • Scorzonera
  • Gengir
  • Beets
  • Swiss chard
  • Eggplant
  • Wheat
  • Millet
  • Quinoa
  • Soy beans
  • Chick peas
  • Peas

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Our vegetables in the garden...

Here are the most recent photos of our organic urban Permaculture garden.
We have now pumpkin, cucumber, peppers, celery, beets, swiss chards, jerusalem artichokes, sweet potatoes, potatoes, lentils, beans, yacon, tiger nuts, skirret and taro.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Recommended books in Ecological living, Gardening and Self-sufficiency

What good books on ecological living, gardening and self-sufficiency are there?
To start this conservation I decided to write a short review of the book of John Seymour, The New Complete Book of Self-Sufficiency: The Classic Guide for Realists and Dreamers, which for me is the absolute bible of self-sufficiency living. Written a few decades ago, it stands as bright and updated as ever, and it features an amazing ammount of information and resources of how to grow your own food, catch water, in very specific, non-sense and practical situations. This is a book for a lifetime.

Another very good book is Perennial Vegetables: From Artichokes to Zuiki Taro, A Gardener's Guide to Over 100 Delicious and Easy to Grow Edibles by Eric Toensmeier. It features an extensive list of many perennial vegetables, easy to grow, how to grow and prepare them, many of which have great potential for permaculture, and are not yet so well known. I have grown some of them this year with excellent results. This is practical Permaculture at its best. I also like very much his detailed style of writting.

Finally, the best general (and a fairly cheap one) Permaculture book for more urban settings, it's 21st Century Smallholder: From Window Boxes to Allotments: How to Go Back to the Land Without Leaving Home by Paul Waddington. This is not only a very practical book but an inspiring one. Particularly for people who live in cities, and would like to get more ecological and self-reliant. The book is divided in the sections garden and food, water, energy, waste, and has many little advices and tricks to reduce our ecological footprint and it also includes a few case-studies. Excellent book to start with.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Self-sufficient gardening - Growing vegetables in a shade garden

Today we harvested a few more vegetables from the garden.
We harvested potatoes (which were grown under only 2 hours of sunlight!), plenty of celery, plenty of cucumbers (in half-shade), and a few tomatoes (which are now slowing due to the lack of sunlight). The tomatoes in shade grow, but the fruits stay green and grow slowly. However, with just 3 hours sunlight, the plants gave a nice crop.

Our pumpkin plant is growing very long, it has several female flowers, let's hope that we can harvest in a couple of months a dozen of nice muskat de provence pumpkins!

I cut the zucchini. The plants were not cropping anymore, due to the lack of sunlight. I guess they are not adequate to shade gardens, and occupy much space. It's much better to grow the prolific cucumbers!! Each plant gave about 5-10 fruits.
We also have some beans growing and cropping (of exotic varieties).

Our jerusalem artichokes, chinese artichokes, yacon, skirret, taro, scorzonera, and tiger nuts, are still growing, and hopefully producing a nice crop of roots under. The yacon plant is huge, with giant leaves and nearly 2 meters high. I had to protect it from the wind.

We also have one plant of celeriac and a few new kohl-rabi. And our good king henry is growing fantastically well, with plenty of its spinach-like leaves for us to cook. The swiss-chard is another crop growing very well even under the shade of a tree.

The nice thing is, with so much mulching and shade, there is no need to water the garden for several days in a row.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Update garden, 6 July 2009

I return back from a two-week vacations.
There was no need for watering. All the food garden was a jungle. The weather was quite cool and wet.
The jungle is crazy growing tomatoes, pumpkins, zucchini and beans. Maybe because I don't prune my tomatoes, and I don't stake any plant. I just let everything growing wildy and mixed. Talk about excessive companion planting!
So, I learnt a few valuable lessons: plan and organize your garden!
give enough space to each plant to avoid becoming a jungle!

Next year, I will make of companion planting a wise and careful choice, such as not mixing a big plant such a tomato or zucchini with small ones like swiss chard or tiger nuts, or mixing brocculi withbeets. The vines are particularly invasive!

About pruning: remember last year, I had only one tomato plant, I didn't prune it, and I got in the end more than 100 tomatoes, in only one plant! So, I keep not pruning; let them grow without limits.

There are now dozens of green tomatoes.
We harvested zucchini (unfortunely some were rot, due to the cold weather), swiss chard, lettuce, one big cucumber, beautiful kohl-rabi, and plenty of zucchini and nasturtium flowers for our salads. We have also dozens of nice brocculi!

The fact that the garden has only 3-4 hours of daily sunlight seems not to be a problem. Yes, I have more greens than fruits, and ripening is slower, but the crops still are fine.

Now, we got four days of warm, humid, thunder weather; today it rained heavily for five hours. Then, as it was very humid evening, we went slug hunting, and imagine... we catch 127 slugs! Half were around the compost bins! Usually, I am not a killer (!!), but I have had enough. I just cut them in half. I think tomorrow the birds are going to have a dinner party!!

Sunday, 31 May 2009

Our complete list of vegetables growing: now 38!

Many vegetables:
  • Tomatoes (different varieties), 11 plants
  • Eggplant, 1 plant
  • Peppers, 3 plants
  • Cucumber, 3 plants
  • Pumpkin (muskat provence), 2 plants
  • Zucchini, 3 plants (now blooming)
  • Spinach, several plants
  • Lettuce (different varieties), several plants
  • Rucula, several plants
  • Swiss-chard (two varieties), several plants
  • Broccoli, several plants (very beautiful, still untouched by pests)
  • Kohlrabi (purple variety), several plants
  • Leek, several plants
  • Garlic, several plants
  • Carrots (including purple haze variety), several plants
  • Radish, several plants
  • Beets, several plants
  • Hamburg Parsley (roots), two plants
  • Celery, several plants
  • Celeriac, a few still small plants (crop was mainly eaten by slugs)
  • Chicory, a few still small plants (crop was mainly eaten by slugs)
  • Potatoes and black potatoes, several plants
  • Beans (different varieties), several plants
  • Peas, a few plants (crop has failed)
  • Chick peas, a few plants
  • Lentils, a few plants (crop is doing badly, maybe due to cool weather)
Alternative and perenial (rare) vegetables:
  • Good King Henry, 1 plant
  • Yacon, 1 plant
  • Tiger Nuts, several plants (delicious tubers!)
  • Chinese artichokes, several plants
  • Jerusalem artichokes (tupinamps), 4 plants
  • Skirret, 2 plants
  • Peanuts, 4 plants (they struggle against the cool climate)
  • Sweet potatoes, 1 plant (now sprouting indoors)
  • Strawberry spinach, 3 plants
  • Blueberry
  • Raspberry
  • Strawberry (two varieties)
  • Elderberry
  • Strawberry mint (delicious smell!)
  • Savory
  • Wormwood
  • Thyme
  • Lavanda
  • Parsley
  • Chives
  • Catnip
  • Lemon verbena (delicious tea!)
  • Lemon grass
  • Lemon balm
  • Bergamot herb (still very small)
  • Coriander (still small, slugs have eaten a lot of them)
Citrus trees:
  • Lemon tree
  • Bergamot tree
  • (To be updated soon)
Things that we currently try to grow:
  • Quinoa (sprouts but then fails, since it requires hot weather)
  • Millet (we couldn't sprout it yet)
  • Rice (sprous but then fails to grow)
  • Mung beans (still very small since it requires hot weather)
  • Salsify (sadly, it has rotted, or eaten by slugs, last week)
  • Wheat, Oats
  • Amaranth
  • Cumin
  • Flaxseed
  • Soy beans (maybe they will fail to grow, due to the cool climate)
Overall, we have about 38 edible vegetables species growing!!
In our small city garden, that had only 3-4 hours of direct sunlight.

We experiment with a lot of biodynamic planting, and companion planting.
This week, we will apply a nettle liquid-composted fertilizer that is an extremely rich one!

Click on more photos to see!

Some vegetable rarities....

Strawberry spinach

Chinese artichokes

Current photos

Lovely flowers...

Lemon grass, lemon verbena, lemon bergamot, and a baby lemon tree!

Zucchini, growing in a container full of compost: how happy it is!!

From garden to dinner room!

Row of summer flowers... Yeah!

Tiger nuts sprouting: one of our major permaculture achivements!

Swiss chard: anyone can grow this, even in a shadow garden!

Beautifullll blue and rose flowers! We want butterflies and bees, remember?

Our baby fast-growing pumpkin plant: she grows 5 cm every day!!

Our Yacon: it is a tropical plant but can be grown in Europe, and it gives a huge ammount of edible tubers, and better, than potatoes, no pests, huge yields, and is perenial!

Monday, 4 May 2009

Our garden growing, growing...

Tiger nuts, delicious edible tubers, with flavour like almonds

These are real peanuts, or better, the plant that produces them!

Look at this organized food/flower garden! Carrots, petunas, swiss chard and lettuce.

The queens of the garden: aquilegias and penunias

Fuchsia and alium fistulosum (back and left)

Click to see (peas, squash, asters, jerusalem artichokes, geraniums, tomatoes)

The shadow site of our food/flower garden

The sunny side... (plenty of broccoli, grown in raised beds, edged by tagete flowers)

A detail... (always well-mulched compost-rich soil)

Petunias, aquilegia, rucula, carrots... the mix is perfect