This weekend we met on Sunday with Jan Joost who was inspired by a stone-pile bed in a permaculture garden at the ‘hortus Haren’  ( and wanted to discuss making one in the experimental plot between the Hügel and the four sister plot. I’m happy that all the experimental plots will now be in use.

The 5 ‘test-beds’ on site (area 7 on the map to the left) are: (a) Hügelkultur,  (b) ‘Stone Growing’, (c) the Four Sisters,  (d) Fukuoka with a wild bird seed mix and (e) Annemarie’s edible weeds. We even have a ‘lucky dip’ corner (f) where Carl is trying out the potato-tower idea with car tyres.

The four sisters, three of which are planted, are doing really well with very healthy maize, sunflowers, and various types of pumpkins. As my arms keep reminding me I also finished putting the soil back on top of all the wood and horse-manure in the Hügel-bed. So, this coming Wednesday we can plant it up – possibly pumpkins. The wild bird seed mix (which we discovered was made up of vegetable and herbs) is beginning to sprout and if our experiences at home are any indication, then cabbages will be the first seedlings to develop.

Emilia Hazelip beds with ‘just in case’ plastic bottle irrigation system in place

The Emilia Hazelip raised beds are doing fine and we have a healthy set of Lola rossa coming.  Last week, before the rain, Fiona and I added the inverted water bottle irrigation system to these beds. We thought that, even though this growing method has proved very drought tolerant, it must have its limits and we should be sure to have a safe way to add water without eroding the very sandy soil of the beds.

Using your plastic drinks bottles to form an irrigation system in raised beds

The perennial vegetable area looks good with all plants coming along nicely, protected by mulch and some edible weed companion-planting to fill gaps. The perennial broccoli  is doing really well – thanks Ton and Marjette!

Chenopodium alba and Oxalis tuberusum under beech-flower mulch in the perennial veg beds.

On Saturday Jan-Joost did some weeding of  the Chenopodium alba (Fat Hen or Lambsquarters in English) which needed controlling. We knew it could be used as a spinach substitute but in later research we found that the leaves can be eaten in salads all through spring and summer, even as the stems toughen, so we’ll combine weeding and harvesting next time!

Hope to see you all on Wednesday!

regards, Tom


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