Easy polyculture of annual vegetables – video

One of the main principles of permaculture is diversity. Taking a hint from nature and combining plants into diverse polycultures instead of growing row upon row of the same thing  makes great use of the space available, discourages disease and pest problems and generally means more to harvest with less work. It is easier to do when working with perennial plants but even annual vegetables can be grown in polycultures. For several years now I have been experimenting with different polycultures of annuals and the one I’m sharing here has been a great success.

I have designed it so that I can sow everything at the same time, yet harvest for months on end – from the first leaf mustard plants that can be picked just weeks after sowing, till December when I can still harvest parsnips and chicories.

These are the vegetable varieites I sowed this time:
1. Leaf mustard
Bekana, Ruby Streaks, Golden Frills, Dragon Tongue, Rucola)
2. Lettuce
(Buttercrunch, Cerbiatta, Flashy Butteroak, LolloRosso, Twellose Gele
3. Cichories
Mix of different varieties
4. Spring onions
Apache, White Lisabon, Shimonita Negi
5. Carrots & parsnips
(Bambino carrot, Corsmic Purple carrot, Halflange van Guersney parsnip, Italian Parsley
6. Beets & chard
Wodan, Robuschka, McGregor, perpetual spinach

You can of course choose different varieties or use leftover seed you have on hand, but it is a good idea to choose a few from every group.

Have you tried mixing vegetables and growing polycultures?

 

8 comments for “Easy polyculture of annual vegetables – video

  1. Adrea
    01/11/2017 at 09:37

    About how many seeds of each type did you use?

    • vera@gtc
      02/11/2017 at 22:13

      I aim to sow about 1 seed per square inch but it never works out exactly like that – you always have to correct this later by harvesting more from the areas where the plants get crowded soon. I also often use remains of seeds from previous seasons where germination rate is uncertain. I use the most seeds for the leafy greens (leaf mustard and lettuce) and sow veggies that grow bigger, e.g. parsnips, much thinner. I do find it difficult to give an exact advice though, sorry! I would say not to worry too much about it – if you sow denser then it just means you’ll have to start harvesting earlier. We are hopefully going to film an update on the polyculture this weekend – there’s still so much to harvest!

  2. Monique Kors
    14/07/2017 at 13:24

    What a lovely thing to do, it makes sense that you will have less problems with diseases. Great you can do the sowing all at the same time

  3. Iwona
    29/04/2017 at 14:52

    I just stumbled across your videos (linked by oneYardRevolution) watched all and I really love them! Now I plan on reading the blog in my free time. I love the idea of polyculture with annyals (already making steps on perennial bed) and while it’s slightly to late to sow mustards and salads I think I’m still going to give it a try! Thanks!

    • vera@gtc
      29/04/2017 at 19:51

      Thank you, Iwona! So lovely to hear you want to try the polyculture! If it’s too late for leaf mustards you can just leave them out, but you could probably still try some lettuce varieties like Romaine lettuce which can be sown later in the season, too.

  4. Rachel
    04/04/2017 at 15:04

    Thanks for the video. I found it very interesting. Just wondering, how big was the bed that you used?
    Thanks!
    Rachel

    • vera@gtc
      04/04/2017 at 16:05

      Thank you, Rachel! The bed I sowed into is 120 cm (4 feet) x 280 cm (9 ft 4 inches). But you can sow into a smaller bed as well, perhaps reducing the number of varieties in that case.

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