So for several years I have been interested in gardening and increasingly worried about the world and our environment.
Last year, my wife and I finally moved out of NYC to Cornwall, NY which is about an hour north. I'm getting ready for my first spring as a landed gardener!!!
But, leaving the city, where I was able to keep a small carbon footprint and a nice home at the same time has had it's challenges.
Finding permaculture though, and a possible path to a carbon negative life (which seemed frankly impossible previously) has been amazing.
But, trouble in paradise, I have had a somewhat difficult time convincing my wife, to let me convert our small plot into a food forest. What to do???
I was wondering if anyone had experienced this, and if there were any suggestions.
Basically, my plan now is to try and go slow with my conversion of our yard, and to try and show her the advantages, while still designing certain areas to maintain the 'curb appeal' she desires our new exurban plot.
Privacy Fence around the fence yard of fruiting plants. Every chainlink fence post (10ft). You can dozens of trees around the property that way.
I would not be able to convince my partner but I could trade with her. I get to plant 50% of the yard and you get to do this thing you always want or I get to give up the motorcycle that you always thought was too dangerous.
You could call it edible landscaping. And show 3d and regular 2d design plan.
Short of that by a empty lot nearby and garden on that site.
I don't buy the idea the a food forest has to look 'wild'. Does she like bushes? Plant a few in a nicely landscaped sort of way; say, blueberry, Wintergreen and strawberry plants in-between. Does she care for a tree? Pick a pretty food producing tree and place it esthetically. Maybe even two. How about flowers? Arrange some comfrey, geraniums, nasturtiums, and echinacea around the bushes and tree. Intersperse with some ramps. Mulch it all with some fancy wood chips from the garden store. Leave a nice lawn in the middle, but mow it at three inches instead of one.
Instead of 'food forest' think in terms of 'edible landscape.'
Leave it for a year and see how you both like. Sustainable change is slow, so use the thinking time for esthetic design. It think it could enhance curb appeal.
I have a food forest at allotment (community garden), which has rather strict rules on what things should look like (they like conventional rows of vegetables in bare earth)- its perfectly possible to make food forests look good enough! I use wood chip instead of their preferred bare earth, strawberries as ground cover, plenty of flowering bulbs and flowering shrubs. I have to do somewhat more tidying up than a 'proper' food forest as it has a look 'tidy'- so its more work in cutting down/picking up plants past their best and putting them in a compost bin- then spreading the compost. I also can't keep all the plants I'd like- sorry dandelions. But the extra work beats not having a garden!
So my advice is to start on a smallish area (half?) as a compromise, and make it look beautiful!
Is the issue that she's worried it'll look unorganised and untidy? Or, won't fit in with other neighbourhood gardens?
If so, then she needn't worry at all. A food forest can look like most others, only it's productive. They can mimic almost any type E.g. cottage, topiary, tropical, Mediterranean, Japanese, parterre, and so on.
Even a cacti garden can be done using DragonFruit, Pineapple, Prickly Pear, etc if climate is favourable.
It (not so) simply comes down to design, and very careful selection and placement of plants - some flowering ornamentals well placed as eye-candy to both humans and pollinators.
'Every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain.'
Besides making it absolutely beautiful, are there some fruits that she really likes? When she's in her beautiful yard and can just reach out and pop some lovely blueberries (or other fruit she'd love) into her mouth how can she not love that? If my wife did that for me she'd be my hero!
I've looked up a couple guilds for you. Maybe if she sees what a 'neat' guild looks like, it would help you out. I don't know the specific plants that would do well in your region, but you could research and replace any plant with another of the same mature height, and growth habit, for wonderful results.
Here is a real world guild from Greenhouse Bed. The plants listed at the link are oregano and eggplant.
The plants under the tree are great!
Plop a guild in a corner of your yard. Just mulch really well! Also, a berry will bear fruit much faster than trees, so you might start with that. Or as someone mentioned, strawberries under the tree, Yum!
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