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Want to critique my food forest plans?

 
Posts: 46
Location: Northwest Missouri
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Howdy folks. Here’s what I started working on this spring.
This diagram looks more impressive than the little twig trees I have planted so far.



Notes:
Northwest Missouri, zone 5. Elevation of around 800 feet.
I'm treating the northern portion as a berry nursery. These are all shade tolerant berries that I will propagate into the main area in the future as the fruit trees start growing up.
The entire planting area has a gentle slope to the east and I put the fruit trees on the high west side to keep the roots away from the septic area to the east.
Cross-pollination requirements have been considered (two different apples, male/female seaberries, etc.)
The yard is surrounded by forest to the north and east.

Please feel free to critique and/or make suggestions.

Some questions I have:
1. I started out just cardboarding and wood chipping the planting rows (blue areas.) Should I proceed to do the same for all the space in between this summer? On the one hand, it will build better soil as I expand plantings into the middle. On the other hand I don’t know how well the wood chips will actually break down out there exposed to open sunlight.
2. My rows are mulched with wood chips from the bordering forest. All hardwood, and a good blend of half decomposed wood. Renting a chipper got me this far, but very inefficiently so I intend to bring in a few loads of chips. I can specify hardwood chips, but is there any benefit to having a blend of evergreen chips in there too?
3. Any reason NOT to put a hügelkultur bed where I have it planned?

Thanks in advance for your comments.
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master steward
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Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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Looks like a fun project!  Two things come to mind.  Apples have 5 different pollination groups (G1-G5).  To get cross pollination, the two trees need to be within 1 G level of one another.  Unless your neighbors have apples and then you're likely ok anyway.  

Secondly, the hugelkultur bed may trap frost if it's running across the slope.  Maybe that's a good thing for the peach to delay blooming?  Or maybe it's a bad thing?  Dunno but I figured I'd mention the possibility.
 
pollinator
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Location: Boudamasa, Chad
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Looks like it will be a beautiful place! One critique: you refer to this as a"food forest," but I don't see a  critical element: support trees. What you have now is more of a mixed fruit orchard.

You can start with wood chips, but you are correct in thinking that decomposition will be slow--except if you keep adding material to it year after year. That's the whole point of 'chop and drop'. You need perennial elements in there that can be sacrificed or partially sacrificed in an annual basis for mulch, both woody and plant mulch. Some of them should be nitrogen fixers as well.

Have fun!
 
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Matt Todd wrote:Some questions I have:
1. I started out just cardboarding and wood chipping the planting rows (blue areas.) Should I proceed to do the same for all the space in between this summer? On the one hand, it will build better soil as I expand plantings into the middle. On the other hand I don’t know how well the wood chips will actually break down out there exposed to open sunlight.



Entirely depends on the amount of moisture you get. I'm not all that far from you (several hours drive), and I put down cardboard and woodchips. The cardboard and lower woodchips are half-decomposed after about a year, and *nearly* fully decomposed after about two years. The woodchips at the very top do last longer, but there's no harm in that.
You can always push aside some woodchips, cut a hole in the cardboard with a utility knife, plant some plants, and push the woodchips back in place - it's no issue (and I'd always recommend making sure you cut a hole through the cardboard, anytime you plant - I wouldn't assume the roots will break through). If you got woodchips, and don't mind doing the labor in advance, I'd go ahead and do it.

Another thing I like to do is, if I have some logs around anywhere - treefall or something I had to chainsaw, I just rest some logs, half-buried or not, near my trees (but maybe a foot away from the actual tree trunk - you don't want it touching the tree trunk), or on top of my garden beds, and let them decay slowly, and they're small enough (6" logs, maybe 18"-24") I can always move them if they are ever in my way. The soil under the logs after a year or two become much improved. I absolutely love half-burying or fully burying them, if I happen to have the opportunity to.

2. My rows are mulched with wood chips from the bordering forest. All hardwood, and a good blend of half decomposed wood. Renting a chipper got me this far, but very inefficiently so I intend to bring in a few loads of chips. I can specify hardwood chips, but is there any benefit to having a blend of evergreen chips in there too?



I can't give an educated position on this, all I can say is I just get my woodchips from the county, and shovel it into a trailer. It's a mix of whatever trees get blown over in storms or are cut down to prevent encroaching on power lines, as well as everyone's Christmas trees. It's done nothing but benefit me, so I haven't had a need to be picky about it.
 
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