Experiments for 2018?


Hello, My name is Hugh Kelly and I am a high school social studies teacher in Leysin Switzerland. We started a school permaculture garden project in late 2015, so we only have two growing seasons under our belt.

Here is a video of some of the technical approaches we have taken but we also try to take a holistic approach to being, working and learning in the garden. https://vimeo.com/252142544

I am wondering if Grow Observatory is going to be active in 2018 and if so, are there enough active people in this forum to conduct experiments and share observations and knowledge. I posted this in the experiments section because a recent email promoting a recent job opening at the project referenced citizen science in the context of gardening.

:) Hugh


Hi Hugh, thanks for posting and I've asked some of permaculture scientists to get back to you about experiments; they seemed keen to get in touch with you in the next few days. We hope that you will also sign up to be part of the GROW Observatory and for our newsletter; we have some free great open online courses on Citizen Science starting this year that would introduce you and your students to the GROW Observatory. First one starts on 19th February Citizen Science: From Soil to Sky.

Hi Hugh, Thanks for sharing your knowledge and video - it looks amazing.

We are indeed planning a citizen researcher experiment for this year and would love you to join us. We're still finalising the details before we can fully share, but it will be an experiment on polycultures (growing crops in combination) that people can do to get meaningful results at home, in school, in the community garden, at the allotment, or on the farm. Additionally, it will contribute key info to the wider understanding of this practice as we combine our results together.

If you'd like to join in, and didn't do the Soil to Sky course last year, that's a great place to start. If you did that already, then we'll have a new course starting in April that will lead into the experiment. Sign up to the GROW Observatory newsletterto be sure you are the first to be notified when this is launched.

I look forward to working with you, Naomi

Dr N.K. van der Velden Senior Researcher in Agroecology Permaculture Association (Britain)

Thanks Dr. van der Velden, We did a number of polycultures last year including the following (DNG = did not germinate & =( = did not grow well). I think we were too aggressive in terms of polyculture and we will still do polycultures this year, but perhaps with fewer species in many cases.

Tomatoes, asparagus, marigolds, coriander

Strawberries, leeks, marigolds, nasturtiums, Swiss chard, rocket, kale, pumpkins, courgette, borage, nasturtiums, clover, lavender, thyme, echinacea (DNG)

Potatoes, marigolds, quinoa, onions, shallots, basil, brassica

Potatoes, marigolds, quinoa, onions, shallots, basil, brassica

pumpkins, corn, beans, radish, buckwheat, clover (limited germination)

peas, turnips, chinese cabbage, corn, squash/courgette, runner beans, calendula, lacey phacelia, radish, perennial mint, echinacea (DNG), marigolds (DNG), clover (limited germination)

Radish (bolted), leeks, carrots (limited germination), parsnips (DNG), beetroot (DNG), 1-2 brassicas

broccoli (did not head), cabbage, borage, calendula, marigolds, onions, leeks, shallots, cilantro, Hungarian rye (DNG)

potatoes, broccoli (did not head), cabbage, leek, onion, borage, alsike clover (DNG)

perennial raspberries & strawberries, fava beans, (mizuna?), nasturtiums, lettuce

lettuce rouge d'hiver, kholrabi, dill, coriander, nasturtiums, lettuce, carrots (limited germination), beets (DNG)

potatoes, turnips, marigolds, 2 brassicas, borage Peas=(, dill (DNG?) clover (DNG)

If I want to help with the experiments, do I need to take these Future Learn courses? I learn better through reading books about gardening/permaculture and taking permaculture courses in person (e.g. at Holzer's Krameterhof and Falk's Whole Systems Research Design farm).

If I need to take the courses I may get through them, but I may not as well.

Also, what is the date range during which the experiments themselves will take place this year? These are school gardens so I'm guessing that teachers are in and out during the summer. I know I am. Kind regards, Hugh

Reply — Last edited

Hi Hugh

You do not have to take the Future Learn courses to take part in the experiment (although they do provide useful background in experimental design and the data we wish you to collect). You will be able to sign up to the experiment from mid-April ready to start in May through to harvest - there are several tests to do over the growing period but when they are done is flexible.

Looking forward to working with you!


Victoria Burton Citizen Science Facilitator and Designer, GROW Observatory