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Design Ideas for Northeast Florida Zone 9A Food Forest

 
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I have spent almost a year observing my landscape and experimenting with planting a few various perennial and annual plants. I'm afraid to say, most of my annual crops, including things such as Tomatoes, Peppers, Cilantro, Seminole Pumpkin, Watermelon and MARIGOLDS, have been decimated by the Deer population in my area. Other wildlife I have observed are foxes, turkeys, rabbits, gopher tortoises, possums, armadillos and the occasional rare peacock that probably escaped from captivity. I am working on building a food forest on my acre or so of land in zone 9A near Jacksonville Florida, and would like to create a system that incorporates wildlife and allows them some food, but certainly not all or most of it. I don't mind sharing my food with wildlife, and I want to take a very natural approach and would like to avoid things that might clash with my wild garden design, such as nets, tall fences, electrical fences, etc. etc. I am focusing on my front yard for now, too wide of an area to practically put deer fencing in, it would be impossible to keep all wildlife out of it and would be ridiculous to try in the sense of a permaculture approach. So I had an idea, that would not only feed the wildlife in my area and provide shelter, but also protect the inner food forest and provide privacy for me. Down below are some pictures, crudely drawn, but should get the point across.

Here's a base picture of my land, this is the front yard area, it is not to scale, I apologize for the crudeness but I whipped it up pretty fast cause I'm excited about it and want to see what you guys think.


As you can see, it's mostly open. The soil towards the top of my property (top of image) is quite poor and I'm working on improving it with nitrogen fixers. There's some pine trees, a nice crapemyrtle in the middle of the yard, a beautiful red cedar, and many different kinds of grasses and weeds, as well as blackberry thickets throughout the yard and muscadine grape vines climbing the pine trees and oaks. To give you an idea of scale, within the fence (the big black line) the space is approximately 27,000 square feet.

From my observations, this is what I've been able to determine about the wildlife pressure.


My fence is quite short for a deer, it's about 4-5 feet on average. There are two holes at the front of the property where there should be gates, so the deer don't even need to jump to enter my property. However, even if there were gates there, as you can see, there are several places they can easily jump the fence to get into my yard. After that it's a buffet for them. My neighbor, to the right of the image, has no front fence at all, so they can walk onto his property and jump the fence from the right side of my property.

So, here's my proposed solution in image form...


My idea is, to surround the area where I want to grow the main food forest with a thicket, thick forest wall, composed of a mixture of native wildlife and privacy plants, including but not limited to the ones listed in the image. Beautyberry and American Persimmon grow quite abundantly both on my property and in my area. Chickasaw plum and gopher apples are native wildlife plants for Turkeys and tortoises, and all the others listed are mostly native, should be easy enough to grow and propagate into a thick wall surrounding the area. Then, I will leave only one small area, large enough that a person can enter with a garden wagon, maybe only 2 or 3 shoulder widths wide perhaps a little wider, positioned in such a way that to enter the main food forest where all the special crops are growing, you either need to get very close to the house where I will place a scarecrow or two for decoration, or go all the way around a winding path through the backyard jungle of my property. I don't expect this will completely eliminate wildlife munching on my crops, but that's okay. Do you think a solution like this could work to greatly alleviate wildlife pressure? Specifically deer pressure? My idea is that the deer that were entering the property from the far right entrance and jumping the fence, won't be able to because the thicket will be so thick they'd be essentially hurting themselves or getting themselves stuck if they tried. They also may not be compelled to jump the fence, because food would be readily available without jumping the fence. And any remaining wildlife that enter the property through the far left entrance, will see the food wall and graze it, and probably get too skiddish to get very close to the house.

Thoughts? Comments? Opinions? Let me know if you guys have any questions!

EDIT: The images appear to be broken... Maybe I did it wrong. Here is a link to the album with the pictures arranged the way they are in this forum post: Picture Album
 
master pollinator
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If you add another short fence inside the existing fence, about four feet away from it, you can exclude deer.  I have two short fences, one about 5 feet tall, the other about 4 feet, and they keep the deer out completely.  You can plant your thicket between the fences, where it will be protected during establishment, then later the inside fence could be moved to another location.

For Florida gardeners (and other gardeners in warm/hot climates) I think David the Good is a tremendous resource:  

https://www.youtube.com/user/davidthegood

http://www.thesurvivalgardener.com/
 
Kio Starfield
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Tyler Ludens wrote:If you add another short fence inside the existing fence, about four feet away from it, you can exclude deer.  I have two short fences, one about 5 feet tall, the other about 4 feet, and they keep the deer out completely.  You can plant your thicket between the fences, where it will be protected during establishment, then later the inside fence could be moved to another location.

For Florida gardeners (and other gardeners in warm/hot climates) I think David the Good is a tremendous resource:  

https://www.youtube.com/user/davidthegood

http://www.thesurvivalgardener.com/



David the Good is great, I have had some correspondence with him and he has offered some advice. I've also bought most of his books and read through them several times, and I regularly go back to his old North Florida Food Forest videos because I'm modelling my forest after his. In regards to the short fence, if it wasn't added, do you think the deer and wildlife might chew up the  young saplings of the various suggested plants? I have yet to see them chew up all the mulberry saplings and cuttings I have planted and it's been almost a year.
 
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