Archive for the ‘Central & Southern America’ Category

Woodchip is a great soil amendment and adds nutrients into the soil slowly, I have observably proven this to myself last year on my Allotment where I stashed a few wheelbarrows of woodchip on a section of my plot because otherwise the communal woodchip would likely have been finished by the time I needed some.
Once I dug my pond out, I covered the mound of woodchip with the soil from within the pond, about 6 months later I finally started a new project in the place of the mound of soil where I discovered the very well composted woodchip and noticed when digging that the topsoil layer was darker within a few inches under the topsoil line, when I compared this to a section just a meter away, the soil was lightly coloured and only darker very close to the surface line…

Below is a great video proving and showing from day one to 8 years on, the soil is even dug down seriously deep to prove how far the amendment reached until the soil quality becomes poor again.

 

Important Note: If you obtain free woodchip from your local Tree Surgeons, always ask what tree/s were chipped! Basically, Broad Leaf are usually Alkaline or Neutral PH (Oak is Acidic though) and Coniferous are Acidic PH, So use Conifer Woodchip for pathways as less weeds will germinate amongst the mature rotting chips as well as a mulch for Acid loving plants like strawberries and Blueberries. Use the Broad Leaf for your beds and as a soil amender!

Video courtesy of youtube channel OneYardRevolution

Last Summer I added Oca and Ulloco Tuberous crops to my vegetable grow list in my garden, having harvested them recently, I can only advise that personally they are not worth the effort due to the small yield. This opinion is mainly helpful to those in countries with a similar climate to the UK, these plants are really from the Andean areas in South America where they are guaranteed to have more abundant sunshine.

Perennial tuber Kit: Incredible Vegetables

Various Perennial Tubers: Oca, Ulloco, Sunchoke (Jerusalem Artichoke) & Crosney (Chinese Artichoke).

Whilst I did get a few tubers per plant that were of a decent size, the rest were usually really tiny and even too small to be able to clean properly for culinary use.
I will be keeping a small amount of stock growing in one pot just for the sake of having some aside and re-seeding every year, this will prevent the need to buy more in the event of trying again.

On another note, the same goes for Chinese Artichokes AKA Crosneys, although the yield was quite big, the actual tubers were tiny and most broke whilst harvesting! Oca have a far more worthwhile yield compared with these so for any new gardeners interested to try unusual tubers out, the Oca are probably best after Jerusalem Artichokes (Sunchokes).

Simply put, if I had a larger piece of land (I have a very small typical UK garden), and some more time on my hands, I would probably have a dedicated area to grow these crops and experiment with soil types (my soil is quite heavy). So, I am not entirely giving up, just putting these tubers on a backburner list whilst I find other crops to dedicate my limited space to.

To order any Unusual tuber vegetables in the UK / Europe, take a look at Incredible Vegetables, they supply full info on planting etc.

If you have never heard of the Banana Circle, it may be because you live in a non tropical / sub tropical climate. They are a permaculture design and increase the yield of Banana and other fruits in this simple but very good guild.

Banana Circle 1

Banana Circle Guild with re-purposed sacks for mulch

The basic concept is to prepare a circular section of your area with a radius of about 2 meters (6 feet) plus, once you have measured everything out you start digging in the centre about 1 meter (3 feet) deep and placing all displaced soil around the edges of your measured out circle in a berm like fashion.
Once the centre ‘hole’ is complete and you have built the surrounding berm edge, you can plant 5-6 Banana suckers (baby banana plants) evenly spaced in the edge wall and throw in organic matter (vegetable / fruit scraps, leaves, wood etc.) into the centre hole.

Banana Circle 2

Newly dug out Banana Circle with green waste in the center cavity

The center hole is going to be constantly topped up with organic matter to break down and feed the bananas / other crops in the circle guild. The center cavity will encourage water absorption into the soil and the decomposing organic matter will prevent evaporation, any moisture from the decomposing organic matter will also seep into the soil and provide a nutrient rich liquid feed for all plants in the guild!
Many designers recommend planting Papaya (Pawpaw) trees between the Bananas, Sweet Potato underneath as ground cover, Lemongrass even Comfrey or other Herbs etc. where possible.

Birdseye diagram of a Banana Circle Guild design

Birdseye diagram of a Banana Circle Guild design

Once a mother banana plant dies or gets cut down after cropping, the results will be thrown into the compost centre and the baby suckers will be replanted right near where she was before and so on, therefore continuing the cycle and use of the prepared bed …
In many designs, people often have a greywater pipe leading into the centre of the circle as a recycling irrigation system, there are so many possibilities with this design I feel.

I hope that the pictures and diagrams are enough for those who may be able to install a Banana Circle, just in case, I’ve found a good 6 minute video showing the procedure:

Further Reading:

http://permaculturenews.org/2014/04/08/banana-circles/

After a successive year growing other tubers (Other than potatoes) and enjoying leaving the crop underground until I wanted to make use of them (Great storage advantage), I decided to order more varieties and happily stumbled on a site specialising in exactly that! well they sell other things, not only tubers.

After a few videos online and reading a blog post here and there, I placed my order at Incredible Vegetables (I originally intended to order one of their Tuber Seed Kits) but realised that I already have Jerusalem Artichokes and Chinese Artichokes so had to order only the Oca and Ulluco (South American Tuber Vegetables) separately.

Check them out if you are interested in Unusual / Rare varieties of vegetables, they also have Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook pages for those who prefer connecting via social media.

Package of Oca and Ulluco just arrived and opened

They supply Plant information on the Oca and Ulluco regarding growing, history and even how to cook & eat!

Good plant information was supplied on all varieties ordered, this included how to grow and cooking / eating options…

12x Oca & 5x Ulluco Tubers from incredible vegetables

Keep an eye out throughout the year! I will be posting various updates as the season goes on, not only on these plants but also the Jerusalem & Chinese Artichokes, I will definitely do some stacking between them so looking forward to the experimenting as well!

A nice short video from the Fuente Verde farm in Costa Rica, watch as they explain how the land has been divided up and sold off to like minded individuals or couples (Members) who want to live in a permaculture based community, limited spaces allocated ensures that the land cannot get overcrowded, whilst a fair system of a 75% vote which they call a ‘super majority’ is what they use to deal with issues that may arise (Far better than the so called democracy system of 49 – 51 % we see worldwide).

Wouldn’t it be nice ? …..