Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Backyard Project - Mulching and Tree Planting - Beginning of the Guilds

After the green cover crop was turned under the soil was covered with straw as opposed to hay. Hay has seeds which is part of its nutritional value for animal feed but seeds mean lots of unwanted plants for me to pull out. Straw is the stubble left after the crop is cut off. It is quite expensive because here on the island we don't have any large flat areas for growing grains. The straw has to be brought across from the mainland.
Straw makes a wonderful mulch or cover for bare soil while newly sown seeds are thinking about germinating. It stops evaporation of moisture out of the soil and keeps the soil warm creating ideal conditions for those soil organism working on breaking down the newly turned green cover crop.

The key element and the beginning of a plant guild (a collection of plants living symbiotically and in harmony) is the tree. After much reading, list making and pondering we have begun the tree planting. I will detail the guild compositions later but here only to say at this stage the Water Drop hugelkultur bed has a pear tree, and behind it the Feather hugelkultur bed has a cherry tree.

The Leaf hugelkultur bed has a medlar tree.... does the tip of the Feather. Design-wise I wanted the symmetry of these 2 trees at the entrance to the path to the studio. They repeat the perceived symmetry of the studio windows and porch posts.

I can tell the trees are happy because within a couple of weeks they are producing flowers. My sister said to nip off the flowers in the first year so the tree concentrates on producing lots of roots and leaves. So, yes, sister, I did as you advised and nipped off all the flowers.

In the bed leading away from the studio porch, I planted cuttings from a friend's hydrangea bush. (Thank you, Barbara, for working in the rain with me to share your hydrangea).
The cuttings got a cosy covering of straw mulch and a good watering to help them along. I can already see the magnificent hydrangea hedge they will become.

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