My gardens are pretty polycultural (no, that wasn't a tragic attempt at humour; it just comes naturally apparently)... My polycultures happen mostly through what 'traditional' gardeners would consider poor management. Eg; In one bed I grew rye and lupins, then potatoes, followed by garlic, then buckwheat and facelia, then brassicas. I now have all of the above, in various stages of growth and I'll just mulch over anything that threatens the brassicas, which are the only thing I've actually planted this season. I may pay in blight for letting my spuds 'naturalise', but as long as I keep the soil fed, I'm hoping I won't. So much for crop rotation! Frost'll knock a few things off/back, hopefully giviing the winter crops enough room. By the way, potatoes, garlic and rye are not ideal companions! Combining spacehogs, lighthogs, anti-competitive divas, you name it, is a bit crazy, but as long as my broccoli prospers, who am I to turn down a bit of green garlic from the bulbs I missed last year? In fact, I'll put a caveat on everything I've written...this is currently working, but that's not to say it'll stay working. The potential for having generations of resprouted, glassy spuds freaks me out a bit.
i mix my annuals in with all my other plants in all of my beds, food forest, perennial flower beds, etc..works well for me other than a bit of a squash bug problem wiping out my pumpkins last fall..thinking aboutr planting the pumpkins over my pond to feed the squash bugs to the fish this year??? devious eh?
Bloom where you are planted.
Brenda, that is what I envision doing myself. Did you have any system for grouping or did you go with the basics (e.g. utilize different root depths, needs, growing heights, etc)? Any good combinations you've found worked well for you?
I'm thinking I'll grow my annual veggies around the edges of my polyculture perennial beds, where they are most accessible and get most light. Hoping to plant mixes of annual veggies with perennial herbs and small mulch-producers and nitrogen fixers in these edge areas.
Yes, I had been reading over Ianto Evans' Polyculture in Gaia's Garden, but our goal is to create many polycultures using the variety of seeds we have.
This is the method we have been using to create a polyculture for each individual keyhole bed (linked in mandala fashion):
1. Create a seed list 2. Color code / Categorize each variety as being either fast, mid, or slow 3. Then, in three bowls (each marked slow, mid, or fast), put in pieces of paper (each labeled with one seed variety) 4. Draw one or two (depending on how large you want your polyculture to be) from each bowl 5. Evaluate your drawings - we did this by cross-referencing each seed variety with a companion planting chart - right away, if two seeds butted heads we chose one to replace and started the evaluation over. For each seed variety, count the number of beneficial interactions it has with the other drawn seed varieties. The higher the end total - the stronger the polyculture. (We kept a simple tally sheet)
Here is an example of one of our strongest drawings thus far: tall utah celery, brandywine yellow tomato, genovese basil, bloomsdale spinach, broccoli, red onion (and we may modify it more later on...)
----This method builds a core for the polyculture. Now you can go through your strongest (highest points) and modify as you wish to strengthen even more (adding herbs, insectary plants, etc. just make sure no negative interactions exist between any two seeds in the polyculture!)
This method ensures you have plenty of succession variety AND beneficial interactions.
If anyone knows a better method, please let me know!
Location: Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, Canada
what I generally do is I have my seeds in a container that I take with me to the garden...and most of the time I'll look for a bare patch of soil and I'll plunk in some seeds or toss on some mulch..when i put in transplants I do kinda the same thing..but I am aware to not put them where the same family has grown the previous year with some plants, like tomato/potato.
a few things might get a little monocultury..like I did put several onion sets in an area of one of my mixed beds..but onions aren't generally bothered by any pests here and I was using them as a barrier to keep the grasses down, worked pretty good too..
as I said the only real problem I had was squash bugs on my pumpkins, and I kept trying to use natural methods to get rid of them, like moving a bird feeder on a hook over the squash bug area...but they did manage to kill my pumpkin plants there..
when i had a lot of earwigs though, i planted a birdfeeder above the infestation and the birds came swooping in and ate all the earwigs.
my "to dig" plants I put in last year such as potato and carrots, did get put in areas that wouldn't disturb anything perennial or woody..however I'm going low carb and don't plan on putting in carrots this year or potatoes..
with no DIG plats besideds the jer art going in this year, and the onions..i'm going to move my jerusalem artichokes into a new bed and not have them where they'll disturb their neighbors when dug..so they will be a bit moncultured..in their own beds as a hedge north of my north plum hazelnut mulberry hedge..at least that is the plan.
I did find that doing everything polyculturally besides those few items i mentioned..everything grew very very very well..i have mixed fruit and nut trees, berry shrubs and perennial food aplants and herbs all growing in mixed beds..also have all my ornamentals growing in mixed beds
Bloom where you are planted.