GROW Experiment 2018: polycultures v. monocultures


I'm very excited to announce that early sign-up to the next experiment is now open!

Given the love of growing food amongst you all and the interest in finding ways to grow that can help improve our environments, this one is going to test out a regenerative growing approach that lacks widespread evidence at the scale most of us grow at. It will compare growing three crops in combination (a polyculture) to growing each separately (in monoculture).

Which three crops?

What do you need to get started?

What will you discover?

Find out more here

The experiment will officially open on 1st May*.

Not coincidentally, that is in the last week of the related free online course Living Soils, Growing Food. In this course, we consider regenerative growing practices and help you learn how to explore your own growing site and approaches. We also cover some of the first steps for setting up the experiment.

If you want to get a head start and connect with like-minded growers, I look forward to seeing you there.

  • You can start it up until the end of June, depending on your growing conditions.

Kind regards, Naomi

Dr N. K. van der Velden Permaculture Association (Britain)


Hi Noami,

Hope you're fine.

Just want to ask a permission from you if it's possible for me to put a link from my sites pointing here so that other interested friends can join this experiment. I am targeting Philippines organic food growers and wish them to join this initiative for additional benefit of the country in terms of sustainable and regenerative growing practices.

Hope to hear form you soon.

Keep safe and enjoy growing food naturally.

Kind regards, William Mina Andes

Hi William, Mina and all at Andes farm

yes, please do spread the word. Everyone is welcome to join both the course and the experiment. The crops in the experiment are listed, along with more info, on the link above. Not sure how well they grow in the Philippines - they are green beans 'Cobra', spinach 'matador', and radish 'cherry belle' - would be great to find out.

Kind regards, Naomi

Hi Naomi, from tropical Nth Qld. When I had a farm in South Australia in the seventies I grew heritage variety carrots to contribute to the fledgling Peramculture Seed Bank in Tasmania. I found Mollison to be a 'bag of wind' with the young and reclusive Holmgren the ideas man. In the tropics radish is fairly easy, but ordinary green climbing beans are problematic (I grow Snake beans) and never really tried spinach. I'll see if I can get these 3 seed varieties locally. Cheers Greg Broomhall Townsville

Hi Greg, thanks for the info. Great that you've helped out the Tasmania seed bank. I've been working with some wonderful Aussie permaculture folks recently, so it's always nice to hear how things are going there.

Pleased to hear you'll join us in the experiment. Don't forget to sign up if you didn't already. Let us know how you get on with sourcing seeds...

Kind regards, Naomi

Thanks Naomi, yes I have signed up, but no luck sourcing Cobra climbing beans or Matador spinach at any of the commercial seed outlets I know in Australia incl the two better known sources of organic and/or heritage seeds. They are available from UK suppliers at a cost. I am still looking locally. I found Cherry Belle radish at Bunnings. Cheers Greg

HI Naomi, Just been informed the Cobra climbing beans are not available id Australia because of quarantine restrictions. Cheers Greg

Hi Greg, Thank you so much for looking into this. I'm sorry to hear that 'Cobra' aren't available for you. Please still participate by using your chosen variety of climbing green beans. There will be space to let us know which variety you use.

Looking forward to learning with you.

Many thanks, Naomi

Hi folks,

just to let you all know that if you've signed up to the experiment, you will be receiving an email this week with links to the full instructions for planting and setting up your experiment.

It's all starting to happen - very exciting!

: ) Naomi

Hello Dr Naomi .

Thank you . Looking forward to hear how everyone is getting on with the experiment .
Good luck !


Hi Naomi, thank you for such an interesting course!

I have signed up for the experiment yesterday and still haven't received a letter with instructions- I am a first-time planter so not keen on starting without them.

thank you and looking forward,