Win a copy of Herbal Medicine From the Heart of the Earth this week in the Medicinal Herbs forum!
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources the cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • r ranson
  • Anne Miller
  • Pearl Sutton
  • James Freyr
  • Mike Haasl
stewards:
  • Burra Maluca
  • Joylynn Hardesty
  • paul wheaton
garden masters:
  • Greg Martin
  • Steve Thorn
gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • Jay Angler
  • Mike Barkley

! forage gardening

 
steward
Posts: 29578
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
hugelkultur trees chicken wofati bee woodworking
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Mike and I are working on the foraging badge brainstorming stuff this morning.    We decided we needed to expand our vocabulary.  We needed a phrase for something that might be a bit like guerrilla gardening, but it could be on your own land.   In fact, it would most likely be on your own land.  But it could be along a trail or rarely used road.   Maybe on forest service land or timber company land.   Maybe on a neighbor's land (with permission).  

The idea is to have a patch of land that is NOT protected from deer or other wildlife.   So everything planted there would need to be able to survive without care of any kind.  No irrigation or fertilizer.    

There would be no fencing or plastic or metal of any kind.   Dragging some brush around as a mulch is fine.  No horticultural earthworks.   Next to a path or (rarely used) road is probably best.  

Introducing species that are not already growing there is fine.  Including non-natives.  

The focus is on how to get more calories to come out of the patch of land.   So it is possible that some non-edible support species are introduced to support the edible species.  

We planted a bunch of stuff along a road here at basecamp a few years ago, and that fall we had about a hundred huge turnips.  The deer ended up eating the tops off of all of them, but we ate a LOT of turnips that year!   Similar things have happened with daikon radish, sunchokes, rhubarb ...   we have hundreds of little apricot and apple trees gambling on surviving the attention of the deer and wild turkeys.  

This is modeled heavily on what I think foraging was like in north america 500 years ago.   As you gather food, you kinda plant some along the way also.  Then when you forage in that same spot next year, there is more food there than this year.  

What might be some other defining characteristics of "forage gardening"?
 
pollinator
Posts: 281
Location: SE Oklahoma
44
hugelkultur duck forest garden
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've been making plans very similar to yours. Here are some of my ideas:

Lay fallen wood above and below wild plum trees and other edibles. Cover it with leaves and the dark soil scraped out from under big trees. Then dig a trench above it and put that dirt on top of what you already have. My thought is you slow down the water and let it soak in while feeding the wild tree so it has better fruit.

You could also graft plum or peach or whatever works on that base tree to get better tasting fruit. If you have a lot of these, maybe the deer and turkey won't eat all the fruit before you get to it. They left my peach trees alone and I get quite a bit of fruit off the wild trees even though there are a lot of deer and turkey here.

That could be because there is a ton of buckbrush covered in berries and sumac everywhere. Maybe they prefer that.

I've also harvested Chanterelle mushrooms, blackberries and what I believe are huckleberries. Those are all located far from any buildings in an area heavily utilized by the deer and turkey. (I see them nearly every time I go out to the blackberry patch.)

Found what I believe to be service berry trees (aka June berries), but I forgot to check them at the right time. My plan is to borrow some of the decomposing wood and dark soil from under trees near the wild fruit trees and shovel some manure if any is handy, and chop/drop some greenery around those fruit trees to naturally fertilize them to produce better.

Another idea is to find an area where a tree fell and is decomposing. Scatter a mix of seeds near that trunk (or even just fallen branches) and see what wants to grow there. Then plant more of what took off or just let it spread naturally.

Winged elm seems to be a pioneer species in Oklahoma. Wherever branches or tree trunks lay decomposing, winged elm pop up around them. So another idea is to plant pits and seeds from various fruit trees (peach, plum, apricot, apple, pear, fig, etc.) in among the winged elm. They may provide some protection from deer while the trees get established.

I know that fruit doesn't breed true, but if it isn't tasty to eat off the tree I would make jelly out of it. Or possibly graft other varieties onto it. If a tree produces well, I could consider fencing it off later.

Where water runs down a hill, wild plums and winged elm get established. Use the first idea (slow down the water and increase fertility) multiple times as that water runs towards the pond (which overflows and causes erosion -- so there is clearly more than enough water to divert some of it).

Plant guilds on each mound: 2 fruit or nut trees, 1 nitrogen fixer, 4 berry bushes (gooseberry, black current, red current, blackberry, raspberry etc.) between the trees and 30 perennials (TexasBoys comfrey, herbs, garlic, chives, rhubarb, sweet potatoes) around the trees and bushes.

Modify the quantity if necessary, but I'll try for that and put in several of these between 3 existing wild plum trees and the pond that water is running into.

 
gardener
Posts: 2911
Location: Central Texas zone 8a
613
cattle chicken bee sheep
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Maybe dedicate a portion of the zone 1 garden to let it seed out, then spread those seeds in the new area. That's what i am trying to do with my recent terrace earthworks. I threw out fennel, carrots, lettuce seeds. Whole cherry tomatos were thrown out.. Not done yet,  but i buried some blackberry branches in hopes that they root and i dig them up and relocate. Asparagus crowns can be dug up. Peach pits, plum pits,  soapberries (thanks tyler), dividing wolf berry bushes. These are all things i am working on with nothing being "bought".

In the " bought" arena, fall deer food plot mixes are a mix of oats, wheat, peas, and turnips. Thats something that can be had for $30 and cover a large area. I had cows pulling up the turnips this past spring. They came up by them pulling on them. They ate the leaves, left the turnip. In areas that i kept the cows off, the grains were harvestable.

I hope that helps with ideas.
 
master steward
Posts: 6010
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
1665
hunting trees books food preservation solar woodworking
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I like that forage gardening along public roads/trails would generate more food for strangers as well.  I like the idea of planting 1,000s of seeds along my daily walk and then some day having somebody say "I love this stretch of the road, there are so many wild apples growing here".

I wonder if grafting would be in alignment with forage gardening?  Then you could take plants that have outgrown the browse line and capitalize on that by grafting on a tastier fruit.

I like Gail's idea of using existing plants to protect new plantings.  Tuck those plum pits in the middle of something the deer don't eat and maybe it will survive.

I'm also liking the idea of using down wood to act as mini earthworks.  If you're in a dry sloped area, lay some existing down branches in an orientation that collects sediment and water and plant your seeds there.
 
gardener
Posts: 2929
Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
670
forest garden trees woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Gail Gardner wrote:I've been making plans very similar to yours. Here are some of my ideas:

Lay fallen wood above and below wild plum trees and other edibles. Cover it with leaves and the dark soil scraped out from under big trees. Then dig a trench above it and put that dirt on top of what you already have. My thought is you slow down the water and let it soak in while feeding the wild tree so it has better fruit.



Gail and I are in the same bioregion, which may be why we have similar ideas.  I am not certain how close to the "forage gardening" PEP badge we are when we talk about improving the productivity of existing food trees, plus I know the PEP program is conceptually anchored to the Wheaton Labs property where maybe there aren't so many dozens of species of marginally-productive fruit and nut trees like Gail and I are inspired/challenged by.

Having said that, I see Gail's idea for improving the soil and enhancing the moisture resources of a given wild food tree as steps 2 and 3.  For me, step one is always "clear away competition."  My understanding is that any plant is competitive for water, nutrients, and light.  Permaculture teaches us that polyculture improves a plant's access to both nutrition (due to cooperative mycelial networks and the like) and water (because bare unshaded soil loses more water than a protective ground cover consumes).  So when I clear around a feral fruit or nut tree, the goal is to reduce competition for food and water, somewhat selectively, leaving a proportion of the vegetation in place.  But I do clear, even to the extent of dropping very large nearby trees that are heavily competing with the food tree for light.  This is like pruning: a judicious and careful balancing of the values of a given tree against the light that it is keeping from my favored tree.  Other food trees and trees that have significant timber or wildlife habitat value almost never get cleared; but in any understory there's always a lot of "brush" species that are in surplus and not doing well anyway due to competition from canopy trees.  Plus the nearby canopy itself usually contains a few specimens that are diseased, damaged, or poorly placed for competing with nearby trees.  

So I start by increasing the available sunshine by  judicious brushing and clearing.  Then I very much like Gail's notion of improving the soil and water near the tree, although I've done rather less of this.  Here in Oklahoma, even the chem-ag oriented conventional wisdom teaches the merits of planting short perennial clover (instead of grass or nothing) in commercial pecan orchards.  
 
pollinator
Posts: 1008
Location: Meppel (Drenthe, the Netherlands)
260
hugelkultur dog forest garden urban cooking bike
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I like the idea of Forage Gardening (I heard it in the podcast today). I was already doing something like that, I think it's called 'guerilla gardening', but I prefer the word 'forage' over 'guerilla'.
I'm living in a sub-urban area and there's a lot of 'public green' here. Right behind the back yards of this street there's a trail (for walking the dogs), lined with shrubs, bushes and some larger trees. Already some wild plums are growing there, some roses with rose-hips and a few elders (elderberry bushes). There's a patch of stinging nettles at the start of the trail and in spring goutweed and some more edible greens grow there.
There are no deer, squirrels or rabbits in the neighbourhood. Turkeys don't live in the wild here. Only mice, rats and birds are here to eat the wild veggies and fruits. The one problem is: once a year a group of workers with gardening tools come along, doing what the town council asked them to do: pruning and weeding. So the trees and bushes I plant will have to look like the species that 'belong' here, so they won't be 'weeded' away.
 
Die Fledermaus does not fear such a tiny ad:
Heat your home with the twigs that naturally fall of the trees in your yard
http://woodheat.net
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!