Multicropping

Growing(Last edited )

I ensure that there are always some plants flowering at all times around the year, to attract bees, butterflies and other benficial insects to my garden.

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That sounds wonderful, Susan! What do you have flowering November to January? I always find that one of the trickiest times (perhaps why there's not that many bees and butterflies around then)!

The weather here (northern England) is incredibly warm for February so I've already seen quite a few bees, and my neighbours even spotted some tortoiseshell butterflies at the weekend :) Fortunately, the warmth has brought out lots of flowers too. Hope they don't all get shocked by a sudden cold-spell!

I have always tried to mix my planting up, and include flowers in and around my growing space, I will often allow some of the crop to to flower for the bees (3 different species of bees on my brociloi flowers right now) My favorite Multi crop is Tomato, peppers and Basil. This year I am trying tomato, basil, oragano, and onion. alternate rows with pepper and....something else im not the best at planning maybe more onions and herbs.

I've 5-10 meters of well established cotoneaster along a boundary wall, the bees love it, berries are like a last bastion for birds, mix of other shrubs especially allum and ornamental thistle and currant, keep them going between fruit and veg flowering.

I had great success last year with a polyculture of kale, broccoli, broad beans, buckwheat and herbs. I simply sowed the whole bed with buckwheat and started everything else in modules, cutting back the buckwheat to make space to plant them out. I let many of the herbs go to flower and after the buckwheat and broad beans were harvested I cut the plants down for some free mulch.

This year I'm going to experiment with polycultures of carrots, onions and chamomile as well as amaranth, beans, clover and marigolds. On a larger scale I am in the process of turning my whole garden (5×10 metres) into one big polyculture, so far with an almond tree and a siberian pea tree (family apple tree to come later) as the canopy layer; tayberry, barberry and tree lupin as the shrub layer; beans, mashua and eventually hardy kiwi as the climber layer; and finally a diverse and rotating understory of vegetables, herbs and green manures and a groundcover of clover.

I'm so excited to see all these wonderful polyculture plans! You are all so inspiring :D

Please share how they develop - it would be great to know what works well and what maybe doesn't go as planned.