I've switched from composting cut grass to chop and dropping to mulch and suppress growth in my pathways and around my raised beds so that I don't get discouraged from getting out and working in the garden. My compost is now switching to a mix of kitchen waste, leaf drop, tree prunings.
I've confirmed one of the vines growing on my trees that I had been pulling until this year is yamaimo. It's putting out edible propagules called mukago.
A friend also identified another plant growing in my garden as myoga, or Japanese ginger. We eat the shoots... I'm not sure if I'd be able to spot the shoots among the other grass, but they'd be easy enough to cultivate in a raised bed if I wanted to.
Still working on getting my winter plantings in. It's amazing that we can grow year-round here. I'm very much still trying to get my head around what can grow when though. I look forward to future me that knows that V vegetable will do well starting in A month or B month and needs X days to get there for A and Y days for B. There are so many variables to planting that I eventually gave up trying to plan it and just did it to see what would happen...
I'm going to try two fully mixed polyculture beds this season. One bed is the most shaded in my already low-sun garden. I failed at growing lettuce transplants in the summer, but I'm letting them grow to seed anyway because one of the things I'm planting in the mix is lettuce. First I planted fava beans down the middle next to some stakes. I wet the soil and lightly raked the top, then broadcast my mix throughout the entire bed. I didn't mix it with any soil before broadcasting. We'll see what happens!
The other polyculture bed I'm trying I currently have mulched with the weeds I cut there. I just broadcast into the mulch. The only thing growing there are some more weeds and garlic at the end where I'm trying to establish a perennial garlic patch (currently in it's second growing season).
My entire garden is basically a giant experimental playground right now. I don't get too attached and am happy whenever I can harvest vegetables. I get to harvest lessons even when the vegetables don't grow, so I'm always in a glut of something even if it isn't edible.
I've been actively hunting cabbage caterpillars and komatsuna shield bugs recently, because I see them completely devastating all of my mustards, brassicas and beets. One of the purposes of the polyculture experiments is to see if it dissuades or confuses the pests.
L. Johnson wrote:
When doing this style of sowing do people cull for spacing or just leave them to compete?
I think that the idea is to do a mixture of both. I would let all the little seedlings start, then when they begin to cover the bed, thin to the strongest seedlings and eat the thinnings. If you thin too early, a critter may come and graze so you have none left. if you do leave it longer, some will just get crowded out, but that may also starve the better plants slightly too. One difficulty is not disturbing the soil and the remaining plants as you thin. I guess cutting at the base might be one way, that would leave the roots to augment the soil in situ.
Now that the weather is very agreeable to me I've been getting a few minutes in here and there.
I'd pruned back the overgrown trees quite a lot in the past few years, so now I can give a haircut to 5-6 trees in the morning before anyone gets up!
The trees are way too closely planted to let them grow out to full size, so keeping up with the pruning really helps keep things from getting shaded out and letting air come through. The folks that planted them had a manicured Japanese garden in mind...
My main goals with pruning are to keep the trees healthy, so I cut out crossing branches, dead wood, and broken branches. I also need to let in as much light and air as possible, so I tend to prune a lot near the base of the trees, exposing trunks and keeping low growing ground cover from overcrowding them and sending up bindweed and ivy... I'm also trying to find and set a good "head" height for each tree or shrub.
I never feel very permie when I prune heavily, but I'd rather work with the mature trees that are already here than cut everything out and start over.
After previous prunings I've had some amazing discoveries... flowers I had never seen before blooming in the newfound sunlight, trees that never bloomed suddenly coming to life with a coat of red or white variegated blossoms (hello sazanqua and rhododendrons!)
The last three major trees that I haven't been able to prune yet are Podocarpus_macrophyllus or inumaki. They are going to be very difficult to prune... even with my 4m extending silky. I may just lop off the top 2 meters or so of growth.