Sometimes it’s funny how things turn out. I have not been a fan of the ‘garden polyculture’ strand within permaculture. I think that it’s ok on a small scale, or where there is a lot of free labour available for harvesting, but it has never struck me as a way to grow significant quantities of calories. Strangely I seem to be coming back to the idea. It all started with confirmation of the yield increase from a grain legume combination. Not really a true polyculture, more of an intercrop, but the basis of my small scale grain growing experiments. Things have moved on a bit since then. Please note that I’m not going to be giving details of all of the plants that I am using in my experiment, or references for the information that has got me to this point. I want to be sure that it works, before publishing the results. There will however be plenty of links to help you think about your own polycultures, or cover crop cocktails.
Small Scale Grain Growing is an integral part of my vegetable and grain polyculture experiment, which featured in an article in Permaculture Magazine. I have described what I’m trying to achieve in earlier posts, and on my Sustainable Grains, and Vegetable/Grains pages, but I wanted to show some pictures of my current research. That’s especially true as the last time that I posted an update was at the end of October (2012). This was a post about some of my Research, as opposed to the work itself. I will address that now.
Well today was a busy day, with the first harvest of grain from my Bonfils Polyculture. It wasn’t all great news, but this is the first example of small scale grain growing, and grain harvested using the Bonfils method, and a good start to my polyculture experiments.
The catalyst for this post was the understanding of how much has changed this year. I’m moving away from no dig gardening, to digging, and double digging, once in a complete rotation. I am concentrating much more on ‘staple’ foods, and less on interesting, or unusual vegetables, and despite being passionate about trees, and Forest Gardening, I recently found myself wondering if perhaps I should have left a bit more room for growing grains.
My interest in growing grains has just increased, with the arrival of more seeds, this time from America. The packet contained a corn variety, a variety of millet, and most exciting of all, a perennial rye. Luckily I have all winter to consider how to link this in to my Polyculture Experiment, and where.