Does anyone know the origin of the keyhole bed concept? It appears in the Designer's Manual (1988), in a drawing called "Gangamma's Mandala" but there is apparently no mention of it in "Permaculture One" (1978). There is a design of a similar shape in a 1982 article by Susun Weed called a c*** garden. Trying to see if either author borrowed the idea from the other, or from somewhere or someone else?
Be sure to check out ic.org....the premier website for intentional communities worldwide. Searchable by keyword and location. You can get contact information for places you might want to visit, and try to contact them in advance to schedule your visit. Many communities are quite busy and visitors who just "show up" aren't always welcome.
Sorry that's unclear. Step by step my process is 1. soak the beans overnight, then drain off soak water and replace with fresh water 2. Bring to boil and simmer for 30 minutes. 3. Pour off hot water, rinse with cold water and then dehull. I actually do this by trampling them barefoot in a bucket or stout basket, rinsing away the hulls afterwards. 4. Place hulled beans in a container with water to cover, and add inoculants as desired for prefermentation (a spoonful or so of yogurt, homebrew, etc.) and set in a room temperature place for 24 to 48 hours. The beans should be slightly bubbly and the water taste sour when done. 5. Bring the beans to a boil in this soak water for 45 to 60 minutes. If the prefermentation stage is eliminated, vinegar or lemon juice is to be added to the water for the second boil. 6. Drain the beans, spread on a clean towel till just warm, then sprinkle with inoculant and mix. 7. Put beans into bags or containers and incubate.
I guess the main danger is that the chickens may be so thorough at finding all the grubs, both mature and immature, as to decimate the colony. They also need moisture and shade, especially the small ones, so in scratching everything over and possibly exposing them to the sun more might also be a problem.
You don't need an expensive bought "pod" to raise them in. Any bucket or barrel or other container will do, just tipped up at the right angle, and the mature grubs will crawl up the incline and drop out....perhaps to waiting chickens! Put a drain hole on the bottom corner and a loose lid over the open end to shed excess rain, but allow adults to enter and lay, and you're good to go.
@ Jack....I did take very detailed photos and put them into a scrapbook, but this was before I had a digital camera or a computer on site, and since then I haven't gotten around to the big project of scanning them, etc. It's really pretty straightforward....just get the carpet wet ahead of time and slather it on with rubber gloves and a trowel. Keep a tray under any vertical surface since quite a bit will fall off and you can then re-apply it easily.
@Ellendra As I recall I tried to coat at least one whole piece in a session, probably just because mixing the concrete and all is a big project and a mess, so it seemed worth doing a lot each time; but I don't see any other reason why one couldn't do less than that.
There is a pretty wide literature now around intentional community, ic.org is a good place to start. I've spent a good part of my adult life in community settings of various sorts, and there are a few ways that it can succeed, and rather more ways to crash it, some of them spectacular. Cimarron's story above is probably one of many many that could be heard and mined for their lessons. Do the research. If I were you I would try to visit some already existing communities...that website is searchable by keyword and location. If possible stay a while, as in a few days at least, and try to get a feel for them. Most smaller communities are usually happy to host helpful visitors, especially if they are game to camp or bring some $ or stuff to share; in exchange for helping out on the day's work, of which there is always too much. Ask people what it's really like, especially if you find yourself one-on-one.
I think that in climates that experience more frost, tagasaste will be a disappointment. I had a few and they all gradually died out. I'm technically in a Mediterranean climate in inland California but I regularly get winter lows to 20F (-7C). My main N-fixing trees that are thriving are black locust(Robinia), "mimosa" as Americans call it (Alibizia julibrissin), blackwood acacia (A. melanoxylon) and Casuarina cunninghamiana. Of these I would have to say the Albizia is the only one vigorous enough so far to be cutting any for forage or to consider coppicing, which is surprising since it is not native to a Mediterranean climate. All of them are under drip irrigation though, so if I shut this off perhaps one of the others would edge into place of preference.
In a climate that is usually amenable to the plants in question, but where the occasional freeze might otherwise kill them, consider a simple overhead sprinkler. Left running all night or for the duration of the freezing weather, it will form ice all over the plant. As long as water is in the process of turning into ice, the temperature of the whole thing won't go much below 32F/0C. I have attached a sprinkler to the top of a tall bamboo pole to go up and over full size fruit trees this way....it is also a good thing to try for blossom protection on deciduous fruit. The main danger is that in sever cold, the ice may get so heavy as to bend or break the branches, and if there are several consecutive nights of cold, the ground might get soggy from the excess water....which is also a problem for many kinds of trees.
Don't forget events and groups that are allied to permaculture but don't use the name. Most states have some kind of organic grower's group, for instance....this is where my partner first laid eyes on me. Think about environmental organizations, activism around threatened areas or other issues of concern, and just other fun social activities....music festivals come to mind. Of course all of this assumes pre-or-post covid world, but there is also a surprising amount going on on line as well. It has many dangers and drawbacks, but I met one awesome girlfriend on a dating website, too
Why not pluck the birds and clean them, so as to harvest the liver, and then age the rest of the bird? At least with other animals like sheep and cows you clean the innards out right away and then age the rest of the animal in the cold as desired.
I have proven to myself again and again the hard way that it is nearly impossible in many cases to "tuck in" desirable plants into any kind of existing forest or shrubland and expect them to succeed. What's already there is already established and will overwhelm the new plants more than likely, competing for water on drier sites and sunlight everywhere. Most common food plants, including fruit and nut trees, need some direct sun to thrive. In addition, new plants will often need supplemental water during dry spells, if you have them, and fencing against animals. I have found it far better to think, and to work, in patches....clearings large enough to let sunlight hit the ground. Make them large enough to hold several mature trees of your choice, as well as infill shrubs, perennials, etc. That way you can fence the entire area and direct irrigation to it, etc. rather than keeping track of a bunch of scattered small plants. An excellent way to do this is to just plant gardens in these patches...annual veggies, grains, etc. and then plant your perennials and trees among these. The new plants will benefit hugely from the additional attention primarily directed at the annuals, and when they fill in enough to shade the annuals out, you move on and start a new patch somewhere else and keep going till you have as much food forest as you want. This is working with succession, rather than against it.
I also live in CA and have lots of oak leaves. I also try to avoid the work involved in deliberate composting and try to minimize the amount of time I spend handling stuff like this. And they must be taken up for fire suppression, along with the pine needles which are the other main item. Some end up under the sheep in their night pens, but that only needs so many. Every year I completely dig out one of my 30 foot raised beds, setting the soil off to the side. This allows me to look at the mesh and plastic in the bottom and be sure that no rodents, tree roots, or bermuda runners have encroached, and then I begin to refill the bed, layer by layer, and add in all the leaves, as well as any other garden cleanup stuff. I cut up cardboard and put it in there too. When a layer of this stuff is six or eight inches deep, I pour urine on it for a couple of weeks, then add a layer of the soil back, and start again. By spring planting time the bed is topped up to the brim and all the rakings and garden prunings and sheep manure and humanure and livestock slaughter scrap and everything else compostable is down in there. As time goes on it all composts, down there while I'm irrigating stuff over top, and since I have three such beds it will be three years before it's dug out again, at which time all the stuff has become fluffy soil. This process gradually increases the volume of the soil in the beds, but that is fine since I've been slowly adding more beds elsewhere! I long ago gave up trying to mulch on the surface of the soil, like I did when I lived in the South. The stuff never breaks down, it's a fire hazard, and it seems to make an instant habitat for large numbers of earwigs, millipedes, pillbugs, and slugs. My conclusion is that in the dry West, mulch really belongs below the soil, not on top of it. Compost happens by default, without direct attention.
I have done it several times with a small glass still sold as laboratory equipment. There are several websites out there giving detailed instructions on distillation...the ones I like are out of New Zealand where it is legal. I think that glass, copper, or stainless can work...but not iron or aluminum. One advantage of glass is that you can see and supervise what's happening in there. The biggest issues, in my understanding, are making sure to throw out the first bit that comes off, this is high in methanol and poisonous....having an accurate thermometer helps decide the cutoff point for this, and the other danger is the extreme flammability of the distilled alcohol....it creates a vapor above it like gasoline. Since you're using a flame or heat source to run the still, it's vital to direct this well off to the side, preferably behind some kind of barrier from the flame or heat. With this in mind, I've done it on a propane camp stove many times. It is a good way to convert "bad" wine or other homebrew, and a basic wash to make it can be made out of anything sweet. I have thrown yeast onto dissolved candy, bananas, dried fruit, or whatever....and by the time it comes out of the still and sits on charcoal for a while it all tastes like tequila no matter the source!
I've been making tempeh frequently for many years (maybe around 1986!?) I've basically followed the directions in the old "Book of Tempeh" from the '70's and pretty similar to what you do. Usually I just trample on the soaked, briefly cooked beans in a bucket barefoot to separate the hulls and break the beans in half, and then slurry them off with repeated rinsings. I often pre-ferment mine then, in a pot with water to cover and set somewhere warm for 24-48 hours more....sometimes I add a bit of kefir, homemade wine, or sauerkraut juice to this as s starter. This prefermentation naturally acidifies the stuff so you don't need to add vinegar, and it can improve it's nutrition also. Then I boil this up for 45m to an hour and proceed as you show. For an incubator I have small brooder heater in a cardboard box with some racks rigged over it....this has the advantage of a thermostat so I can basically set it and leave it till I think to check it. I have done pots of hot water in coolers and ovens and moving tempeh closer and further from woodstoves and things like that too. Been getting my starter from temephstarter.com direct from Indonesia...prices are good and several kinds available, but I also do my own starter and usually get several generations before it begins to degrade. Lately been playing with making it out of fava beans, since these grow easier in my climate....
Years ago when I lived in an offgrid cabin in the backwoods of Georgia I made a shower with a 50 foot coil of black plastic irrigation hose, laid on the cabin roof under a piece of clear plastic. A tank on a hill provided pressure to this, and to a cold water hose that ran directly to the shower head, where a simple hose "Y" enabled me to mix hot and cold as needed. The shower itself was inside a greenhouse/shadehouse....covered with plastic in the winter and attached to the back door of the cabin which usually stood open, enabling heat from the woodstove to heat the greenhouse at night and on cloudy days. The plastic was taken down and replaced with shade cloth for summer. This basically enabled hot showers in the afternoon in all but the most hard freezing or cold cloudy weather....in other words all spring-summer-fall and probably half the time in the winter. In hard freezes I would shut this all off and go to plan B...a pot of water on the wood stove!
If you have clear-grained logs and want the most rot-resistant parts for outdoor use, try to split off the heartwood from the sapwood. This will be more easily done if you first split the log at least into quarters. The heartwood is the dark red, highly aromatic center of the log, and this will last much longer in any outdoor use, including ground contact, than the whitish outer sapwood.
I totally agree with Trace. On a clay soil digging a big hole and filling it up with all kinds of improved soil and loose fluffy amendments is a recipe for disaster. When it rains heavy water will fill all the loose airspace in there and only very slowly seep away into the surrounding packed clay. Imagine a bucket sunk into the ground with the tree in it. A day or two and it drowns! This has happened to me on multiple sites multiple times. On a sandy or loamy soil it isn't an issue....dig, improve, bury what you will and the tree will thrive. But not on clay! On clay now I plant directly into unimproved soil, only dug out enough to accomodate the roots. Most fruit trees actually get planted on mounds raised above grade....especially if water hangs around in puddles for a while after a good rain. The portion of the mound above grade can consist of improved soil, but it's even better laid on top as mulch. If you really want to bury something nasty but valuable for the trees, like humanure or slaughter waste, put it into a separate hole off to the side...the roots will grow over to it and access it eventually.
I'm pretty sure I've posted stuff about this somewhere else on this site, but I'll drop the idea here too. Many people's closets, and many thrift stores, garage sales, and dumpsters have an overabundance of perfectly good T-shirts. T shirt fabric is unique in that it often won't fray or unravel easily along a cut edge, and so this improves the possibilities for making them into other things with minimal sewing. Whole books are written about this...called the "Generation T" series, featuring all sorts of other clothes, bags, accessories etc. I first saw the possibility of this years ago living in communes several women would cut out a T-shirt into a halter top in a few minutes!
Not sure if this will work for blackflies but it might be worth a try....several places I've lived the mosquitoes were so bad that I made up a smudge pot....basically a metal can on a chain with a few holes in the sides, into which I put some dry stuff and get it burning, then follow with some slower stuff that will make a lot of smoke. Sort of like a bee smoker (which would also serve the purpose). I would take this everywhere I went in the garden, and swing it around me like a priest with a censer, and then set it down such that any air current would keep the smoke wafting around me! At least mosquitoes, and many other insects too, cannot stand to be around smoke!
In various places I've homesteaded, I've learned that another way to approach this problem is to start with the place and the land and work back to a diet from that. Learn by research and trial and error what grows easily for you (and be sure to include what can be foraged from the wild in quantity) and then try to base your diet around those things. When I lived in Georgia, sweet potatoes rapidly rose to the top of the contenders, plus whatever fruit and greens were available. I even made granola out of them! This, plus eggs and goat milk, and I was good to go. Since coming to California, I find that the small grains like wheat and barley, and fava beans are becoming important, as well as acorns. Mostly because all of these will produce without profligate summer irrigation which is required for most ordinary summer crops.
Even better, I've found, is to use something durable like old scraps of carpet, laid in well-overlapping layers. Put a cover mulch over it for aesthetics if desired, and leave it for a year or so. Then move to the next zone and plant up where it was. This is a slower process, but will give better control than a cardboard sheetmulch. In some cases it is more effective to push the vegetation down flat and mulch over it, rather than cutting it down first. This can be done with feet, or possibly with something like a weighted barrel rolled over the top. This is less prickly and dangerous than getting up next to things like blackberries or poison ivy in order to cut them by hand.
In some states (Georgia and Tennessee at least, I'm sure there are others) it's legal to bury someone on private land, provided it's rural and over a certain size. When I lived in the South I participated in four or five such home burials, helping to dig the grave, build a coffin (or in one case the body was simply wrapped in a blanket) and do the deed. Simple and beautiful. If you can pick up the body direct from the coroner or hospital or wherever and promise to bury within 24 hours no embalming is necessary. As for myself, I'm currently signed up to have my body donated to the medical school as a study cadaver. That way someone can get some benefit out of me, which seems at least right now to outweigh the meager contribution I would make to the soil!
@ Kylie I've lived on several farms which hosted volunteers and visitors over the years, from periods of a few days to several months. I also participated in the teaching team at four PDC's in Florida and Georgia, some of which offered a couple of places on scholarship or work trade; in addition to my own PDC which I attended at half price....
Also, unless you really need the certificate (that is you plan to teach some day or use the word "permaculture" in a professional way, you can totally learn most of permaculture without the formal PDC. There is a huge abundance of free information on line and a lot of books too. Find a copy of the Designer's Manual and read it through. Do this one thing, and you will have accomplished something that well-known PDC teachers, that I have taught courses with, have NEVER DONE! Hard to believe, right? If you have time and motivation instead of money, add some work experience to your self-study by wandering around to permaculture farms and volunteering. The most prestigious ones will try to charge you for the privilege of doing their grunt work....move on to someone who will appreciate your presence more. Over the years I've hosted quite a few of these, and several have called it a life changing experience.
Be proactive. Write to the organizers of every course in your region and ask about scholarships or work trade opportunities. Reach out further...if you find a good opportunity it might be worth a larger travel bill. I found a half-price opportunity several states away for the task of getting up early several days during the course to help prep food.
Oh, yeah, and FWIW when I lived in Georgia I found that cowpeas were much hardier than beans, harboring fewer pests and seeming to dry down nicely without going moldy no matter the weather. Eventually I gave up the beans altogether there and relied on cowpeas alone for a dry grain legume. I'd grow some beans just for green beans. Here in dry CA, the fava bean takes pride of place, since it grows through the winter and spring mostly on natural rainfall, drying down in the summer. Other grain legumes (except dry peas, but the birds made short work of these!)would need heavy irrigation to produce at all.
I have no photos, since I've taken it apart since we're planning to move, but I built a wooden box with an open chute to one side that my "Mantis" rototiller sits on top of. I would take heads of barley or pods of fava beans and stuff them into the chute to end up among the whirling blades. One or two passes and most of the seeds would be broken up from the pods or heads and be ready to winnow. Another time I found that a small electric lawnmower would sit neatly in a wheelbarrow, with the blade kept away from the metal of the wheelbarrow by the mower's wheels and frame. Set on top of a heap of cut barley grain and started....easy threshing! Fluff up with a pitchfork to stir it up and this worked quicker than the tiller....and I imagine it would do bean plants pretty good too. I imagine this would work as well if a sizeable area of pavement were available and a loose frame of wood laid out on it as a perimeter so beans don't roll or fly away....pile up the stuff in the middle and mow over it.
@ Nicole....Whatever there is of a "recipe" is pretty much as I've described it. We don't measure anything, just go grab bunches of this or that, or use handfuls of dry if there isn't any fresh. With echinacea we yank the whole plant, scrub off, chop it up root and top and leaf and all. The cinnamon would be several "sticks" or a tablespoon or so ground for a gallon of brew. The pot with a gallon of water in it ends up pretty stuffed full of plant matter. It's brought to a boil and left simmering for a while, then shut off and covered and left to cool overnight before straining the plant matter out and mixing with the alcohol. Oh, yeah, and just a dash of the cayenne, so it's not hardly noticeable at all, and we add a bit of stevia also to make it more palatable. FWIW I only started using it after a couple of deep cleaning appointments at the periodontist, and it's ongoing along with twice daily brushing with electric brush and once daily flossing.
I'm also using proper European "Sensodyne" toothpaste, which has the remineralizing "Novamin" in it. I think in America this is prescription only or some such nonsense, and the toothpaste by that name does not contain this ingredient. But you can mailorder it online from overseas....just make sure it has the Novamin. This removed the cold sensitivity that had crept in too which made eating and drinking cold things a problem.
One thing I see missing in all this good advice is one or more solar cookers. There are many designs available and plans for making them yourself on the cheap. My two old "Sun Ovens" will easily hit 300F on a good sunny day and are excellent for just about anything besides frying or grilling. I've done bread in them numerous times, it just doesn't get really brown on top as it would in a conventional oven, and it takes twice as long. The benefits are in energy savings and keeping heat out the house in the warmer months. This is also a good reason to have an outdoor kitchen....many places I've lived had such a thing, usually with a small propane stove in addition to a campfire area (which can be used for cooking and grilling) and the solar ovens. Additionally, obtain a few heavy cast iron pots or dutch ovens. These are magnificent for cooking in solar ovens, over the campfire, or on the embers of your woodstove fire....be sure to find a stove you can easily get a full pot into and out of. Wherever energy is an issue, remember that those uses of energy that involve changing something's temperature are usually the major hogs in usage. So alternative ways to heat and cool, whether food or space or people, are good things to think about and make changes.
Healing the gums is different from remineralizing the teeth....though they are related and sugar and starch can be blamed for both. When I was diagnosed with periodontal issues a few years ago, out went the sugar for the most part...mostly in my tea and coffee, and this was replaced with stevia (some of which I grow myself). My partner the herbalist cooked up what we call "magic mouthwash"...a brew consisting of large handfuls each of rosemary, thyme, calendula, echinacea, white oak bark; plus some cinnamon, and a bit of cayenne, boiled up for a while and then diluted half and half with strong liquor like gin. With this I swish twice daily after brushing. The last time I went to the periodontist the technician was so astonished at looking into my mouth that she had to ask me what I was doing to have so thoroughly stopped and even reversed the progression!
I would highly recommend checking out ic.org....the premier website for intentional communities worldwide....it's searchable by keyword and location and lots of additional resources there. If you haven't already and have the time and means, I would suggest visiting and/or volunteering for a while at several existing communities, to see how they work and feel from the inside before committing to either joining or starting one. There are some that are making it work, and they have certain features in common. There are rather more ways to crash it, some of them pretty spectacular (I speak from bitter experience!)
I have made granola out of sweet potatoes! It was during one of my phases when I made serious attempts at eating mostly only what I grew myself, and sweet potatoes were easy and abundant. So....scrub and peel out bad or rough spots, but otherwise leave most of the peel on, grate them raw....using a food processor if there are a lot. Take the gratings and dry them out...I've used a greenhouse, a car, or a solar cooker with lid propped open....however. Store the grated pieces like this in jars or sealed containers, no need to refrigerate. When I want a "batch", take some out and drizzle with some kind of oil or grease or lard or whatever, and then toast quickly in the oven or solar cooker till they are a bit browned. This is then the starchy base of the granola, replacing the oats. The oil and browning helps them not soak up milk too quickly so they stay crunchy. Add whatever else, fruit, nuts, etc. and enjoy
Nearly everywhere I've ever lived, I've actually planted mimosa for its many benefits and never regretted it. The light shade permits many other plants to grow underneath it. It's a nitrogen fixer so it rehabilitates degraded soils, it coppices readily so is good for chop-and-drop and small firewood. And it's one of the favorite things for goats and sheep to eat! They will even clean up fallen leaves and pods off the ground.
@ Fred: I mostly used short-nap carpet, just to save stucco since I wanted the fibers completely embedded. If the carpet was new (as in scraps from a new install project) I would let it sit out in the weather for a while, new carpet often has a water-repellent coating that I wanted to wear off. Usually I would attach the carpet to the frame dry and then stucco it, so only the outer, nap surface was stuccoed. I did play around with the idea of making square "shingles" stuccoed on both sides ahead of time but decided just using large pieces direct would be a lot quicker. The cardboard and plastic added additional strength to the roof, especially as I needed to be up on it in order to apply the stucco, and served for more waterproofing, in case moisture seeped through the carpet, as well as some insulation from the airspaces in the cardboard. Mostly it was an experiment in creating fairly quick, durable housing for free. The cement in the stucco for the roof was one of the few purchased inputs. Since the walls were under a two-foot overhang, I used a mud stucco on these (two or three coats of a clay-sand mix), with a thin wash of cement mixed with water and paint for color applied over the top with a brush.
If it is a small enough area, and you don't need to put it to another use for a few years, you could try mulching them out once cut. I used to keep a bunch of scrap carpet around for this purpose with sweetgum, elm, and other vigorous stump sprouters. After cutting everything flush with the ground as much as possible, lay the carpet scraps with a lot of overlap over the whole area. The new sprouts won't get any light and will coil around under there and turn white and gradually die.
Just about every thread I see on here and elsewhere about sweet potatoes neglects to mention this fact, and I haven't seen it here yet either, though I admit I read through it pretty quickly. EAT THE GREENS!! They are wonderful briefly cooked up and used any way one would use spinach; while having the advantage of growing through the long hot summer, unlike most other greens except for tougher things like collards and a few other uncommon tropicals. You can regularly prune the tips and cook them stem and all, and this can help keep the vines a bit more controlled especially in a small garden. I think I read somewhere you can pick about 20% of the leaves without affecting the yield of the roots. This tidbit raises their value in a subsistence system quite significantly....
One obvious thing to add to this list is any kind of treated wood, especially pressure treated and creosoted woods. In many areas these are being used more and more since they resist termites and mold. One exception might be borate treatments, but such wood is still dangerous for plants when used around gardens. Treated wood is also extremely toxic to burn.
I think the main reason for "curing" sweet potatoes (and yams) is to prolong their storage life by promoting the healing over of any damaged spots. I have had almost as good a result by sorting carefully through them and placing any damaged ones separately to be used first, and then putting them directly into storage after letting them dry out for a day or two. Don't wash them or abrade them or drop them....handle them like eggs and place into shallow containers and store them somewhere above about 55. In the heated part of a house rather than any kind of cooler space is better. Look through them every few days at first, and then every few weeks, and sort out and use any that show signs of decay. This will especially work well if you don't have a huge crop that will last through the storage season anyway.
My own hack for tomato processing involves sun-drying the first few harvests, which are often too small to want to bother with the whole process of canning. In my current climate this just means putting slices out on a screen in the sun, and covering them at night, but it is possible in more humid climates, sometimes with the use of an enclosure (such as a parked car in the sun!). I take these dried tomatoes and store them in bags, buckets, etc. When I'm making something that needs thickening like sauce, paste, or salsa I powder dried tomatoes in the blender and stir this into the simmering sauce until it is the desired thickness, bring this to a boil, and can away! So essentially I'm replacing gas heat for prolonged boiling to thicken with solar energy drying the tomatoes I'm using for thickener! A large sauce or salsa canning project now easily fits into a day, since the stuff just has to come to a boil before being ready to can!
What I've found through experience on multiple sites is that in anything resembling a forest, or even a thicket going toward young forest, is that trying to "tuck in" useful plants here and there in it and expecting them to succeed is likely to fail. There is a lot of competition from the surrounding stuff, both above and below ground, and there is the necessity of fencing each and every plant from animals. In most climates you will have to get water to the new plants if there is a dry spell for at least the first year or two. This extra watering then attracts more roots to grow into the spots from all around. So by trial and error I've learned to think, and to work, in patches rather than isolated plants or even small guilds of plants. You want to open up a clearing big enough to let some sun hit the ground....most of our useful food plants, even the trees, either need this or will benefit greatly from it. A good way to proceed is to simply fence the whole clearing and start an annual garden in there. While that's going on, plant out your perennials and fruit trees and so on right in there among the veggies, corn, etc. Keep on planting veggies in there until the perennials start to fill in the space. Eventually you quit with the annuals and have the food forest in place. The new trees and such will benefit hugely from the addditonal water and attention primarily directed at the annuals. If you want more useful trees, etc. or more veggie area then you make a new patch adjacent, or at a distance, and start the process over again.