Foxfield Permaculture LAND Centre
Foxfield Permaculture LAND Centre

Vegetable Polyculture

For several years I have been developing a system of no-dig growing that works in harmony with my soil type, the type of food we like to eat but most importantly allows wildlife to diversify. Often permaculture systems suggest you grow as much perennial crops as possible so as not to disturb the soil - great but there is a limmit to the amount of nutrition my family can get from fruit and spinach-like greens (why can't we just eat spinach my teenagers cry when faced with some perennial greens!) - so myself and my family also need to exist within my garden ecosystem. Nuts trees have been planted but still we want to eat annual vegetables, salads, beans, roots and potatoes. My soil is very sandy and therefore needs alot of cover and recycling of carbon. In my system I use certain weeds as undercrops  (as well as decaying mulches and green manures), and for wildlife attraction.  I allow crops to self seed since I noticed that self sown crops always seem to do better and that means I'm not overly concerned about rotation. I'm spreading a 'database' of seeds for annual veg and nectar rich flowers, discouraging overly vigorous weeds (but I never try to obliterate - this only leads to frustration, more problems, and I assume that my soil knows best about what needs to grow to improve diversity) . This does require a knowledge about the seedlings of veg and weeds look like, a level of trust and patience but above all a co-creative attitude, to find a win-win balance. I trying to listen to what nature, as expressed through the weeds and the soil tell me. Developing an eco-system that is harmonious with my land conditions and micro-climate, that puts wildlife and soil protection at the same level of importance as crop yield has taught me a great deal, not just about gardening. It is to me a spiritual journey - where nature and eco-systems are my teacher.


If you would like to visit or attend a workshop to understand more about my methods, let me know via the contact page.

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© Alison Ensor