Seed harvesting season

“But pleasures are like poppies spread, You seize the flower, its bloom is shed; Or like the snow falls in the river, A moment white–then melts for ever” extract from Tam o’ Shanter by Robert Burns

One the first things I planted up in my little back yard were a packet of wild poppy seeds.
Through the course of this summer and into late autumn they have showered me with an exquisite display of flowers.

I love their slender stalks, almost string like upholding a delicate thin array of beautiful petals, that appear to be made out of paper. And yet, despite the relatively inclement northern wind and rain these wild poppies have lived on, utterly resilient.

Today is the start of the Autumn Equinox and in the UK the start of the seed collecting season. So, this year I’m going to harvest as many of the dry seeds from my wild poppy plants as possible and sow some of them to give this natural cycle a helping hand as well as share some seeds from one of my favourite plants with other gardeners.

Growing Together; Interdependence in the shape of a Permaculture day at my community garden with Lucy’s Delicious cauliflower & peanut soup for lunch.

Permaculture; A much banded term that actually when it came down to it was quite straight forward and elegant in its simplicity, yet profoundly important; a food production system designed in an ecological and interdependent way where people recognise that they are a part of nature. Permaculture is an invitation to radically shift one’s relational values and philosophy from monoculture food production systems (Incidentally, Vandana Shiva has written an excellent book called Biopiracy on the subject of global monocultures. Highly recommended reading) to one of seasonal, local and pesticide-free methods of growing what we eat. The very act of eating becomes a political act, it carries the butterfly effect and is, I believe a strong example of chaos theory. For every time we choose what we eat we are making a variety of environmental, ecological, economical and political ripples in our globalised interdependent world.

I rent a small terraced house at the moment that has a back yard with some hanging baskets & 2 raised beds that are currently brimming with sweat peas, rose bushes and tomato plants. I also have a small selection of potted herbs. So, it’s wonderful getting involved with a local organisation called Emerge that run my community garden – it’s a decent size bit of land to really try out things and grow a diverse selection of seasonal fruit and vegetables, especially given the current austere economic climate. Here are some extracts from what I learnt on the day.

Permaculture design principles –
1. Observe & interact
2. Catch& store
3. Obtain a yield
4. Apply self-regulation & accept feedback
5. Use & Value renewable resources & services
6. Produce no waste
7. Design from patterns to details
8. Integrate rather than segregate
9. Use small & slow solutions
10. Use & value diversity
11. Use edges & value marginal
12. Creatively use & respond to change

So, the idea here is designing the space based on frequency of human use, plants and animal’s needs. If the zero zone is one’s house then place in zone 1 those things that are frequented often; herbs, salads, green house, polytunnel, wormery etc.
Zone 2 maybe populated with orchards, beehives, composters
Zone 3 could be for main crops like potatoes frequented once a week
Zone 4 in permaculture becomes the semi-wild area for foraging &harvesting wild food, flowers, timber.
Zone 5 becomes the wild area completely left to nature to do her thing 

Using vertical space to grow things. For example creating a canopy layer with fruit trees beneath which there are small shrubs and hedges and beneath this a layer of ground crops, therefore increasing the yield from the available land.

Considering the external factors that may impact a plot; for example, sun orientation, security, vandalism, wind noise, pollution and access to water.

Cauliflower and Peanut soup recipe!
Serves 4
1 medium Cauliflower (broken into florets)
1 medium onion Onion (chopped)
1 fresh chilli or some chilli powder,
2 cloves of Garlic
inch of Ginger root (grated)
1 tbsp Soya sauce
1 litre of Veg Stock/water – (enough to just cover the ingredients)
2 tbsp Peanut butter (crunchy or smooth)
50 g grated creamed coconut

Sauté onions and chilli with the onion, garlic and ginger for 5 minutes, or until the onion is translucent.
Add cauliflower and soy sauce and sauté for a further 5 minutes.
Cover the vegetables with the stock & water mixture, bring to the boil and simmer until the cauliflower is soft 10-15 minutes depending on the cauli/size of florets).
Add the grated creamed coconut and the peanut butter – mix to incorporate and then liquidise.
Recipe originates from Phil, Misty’s Café, Manchester.