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Grasses in a forest Garden?

 
Posts: 9
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I've just watched Robert Hart's forest Gardening video. Grasses are not mentioned in the different plant layers. Are grasses typically excluded from this setup???
 
gardener
Posts: 965
Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
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Grasses are generally excluded from what I know because most of them (if not all) compete for nutrients and water at the same layer as the feeder roots of most fruit trees. Also because they are aggressive at shading and/or choking out other herbaceous plants. , If you're looking for a grass for the system...bunching grasses aren't too bad at aggressively spreading and casting too much shade in my experience but I'd still suggest avoiding grass altogether.
 
Brett Price
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Thanks Trav! You'll forever be a part of my permaculture history by answering my first post
 
pollinator
Posts: 4437
Location: North Central Michigan
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guess it depends on the SIZE of your property..and what you are growing..I have a fairly large group of gardens on our property, and there are some grasses grown here..

I have some ornamental grasses here and there among the gardens and I use the spring cuttings as a sort of hay mulch..and I have a very invasive grass called ribbon grass that grows down a couple of my banks, i tend to love it but most people probably don't. I wouldn't recommend it near any crops that it might take over or food crops though..

I have grass / lawn paths through my food forest gardens as a trail..that is mowed..and the paths are mostly edged with a plastic edging or wooden bed border to keep the lawn/path grasses out of the beds themselves..i do NOT use any sprays or chemicals on those grasses.

there are also crop grasses such as corn and some grains..they are also useful..I am growing small patches..not acerage..of food grasses and other grains..here, but they are separate somewhat from the food forest gardens..I have a patch of oats and a patch of barley, both hulless, that are growing on the south edge of my aspen woods where it opens to a bank north of my pond, and haven't yet planted my corn, which is a grass, which will be in it's own patch as well away from the food forest..so it can have wind to pollinate it..I will be planting winter wheat in the food forest garden after the summer crops have been harvested as it will grow in the fallow soil ..you could also use a rye for the same thing..

so yeah, some of us still use grasses.
 
Travis Philp
gardener
Posts: 965
Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
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You're welcome Brett. Hopefully I helped some.

 
pollinator
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
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we grow perennial bunching grasses for cut and repeat mulch, the benefit is this mulch is guaranteed foreign (weed) seed free because its just grass leaves. these grass leaves are also a bit tougher than most lawn grasses or grain grasses and sticks around longer as a mulch.

the roots grow deeper accumulating nutrients that are lost from the topsoil layer, similar to comfrey.

they also provide nice microclimates between the various bunching grasses.
 
gardener
Posts: 357
Location: Beaver County, Pennsylvania (~ zone 6)
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Bunching grasses also make great habitat for birds and other small animals.
 
master pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I'm trying to get some native bunch grass growing along one side of my kitchen garden, for use as mulch and critter habitat. It's Eastern Gamagrass, a corn relative.

 
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