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Patterning my food forest

 
Milan Broz
Posts: 87
Location: Croatia
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I'd like to explane what patterns I'm using designing my food forest, and would appreciate any comment. My land Is already devided into logical parts, I'll skip that part, and try to draw only patterns itself.

I started with planting tall tree layer. Distance between them is (7m) 23 ft, and they will be pruned to fit in that space, and to let enough light to lower layers. And they are in triangular pattern:


I devided tall trees into some groups, mostly based on the size and growt habit, and genus also. I spread each group evenly across the garden so that I have apple tree in all parts of the garden, plum near every apple, cherry near every apple and plum etc.


Next I planted tall n-fixers. 3 n-fixers around each fruit tree, or 3 fruit trees around every n-fixer They are here only temporarily, as a supporter for my young food forest, and will be cut down after several years. Maybe they will be used as coppice, but probably will be replaced with short trees.


Empty spaces will be filled with short trees. I consider short tree every fruit tree that I can pick from the ground or using small ledder, but at the same time the one that I can stand under it. The ones I can not stand under it, I consider shrubs. So, after filling empty spaces and replacing tall n-fixers with short trees, I have pattern like this:


Since a lot of short trees can be supporting ones, I decided 1/2 of short trees will be supporting trees like carragana (n-fixer), mulberry and elderberry (dynamic accumulators). Hope you still see triangles in lower image, I found out that as long I stay with triangles, each tall tree will get one carragana, one mulberry and one elderberry, and 3 fruiting trees around it, without any mistake.


Now I started to draw paths. I used leaves veins only as an idea. I can not just copy that pattern since I'm not water drop that needs to be delivered to one point of my garden. I want to walk through my garden, give a tour to my friends, when I'm picking elderberry flowers I want paths that are connecting them in time saving pattern, but also I don't want to use all available area for pathways. I drew some pattern like this, It has one big "road" running through the center of garden, big enough for a couple of people to take a walk without forming a caterpillar. Then, since terrain is sloped, I have main "branches" following contour lines. Size would be just enough that I can pass with a wheelbarrow without any problem. And then small branches connecting main branches, maybe just enough for a person to walk through without scraching against shrubs.


Then I would add shrub layer, without any plan yet, and a keyhole paths for servicing this shrubs, but I expect terrain itself will show me how to handle this once I come to that point.

What you think? This is just a pattern, this is not a plan of my garden (it is much bigger) but I found out that similar pattern can be applied to any size of garden, with some individualization, like ponds, playground, bigger spacing between trees etc.
 
Nick Garbarino
Posts: 239
Location: west central Florida
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Your pattern design is very efficient. I'm curious to know what N-fixers you will be planting. The fruit trees you are using are usually considered low trees, and they are relatively short-lived. Trees like walnut, chestnut, pecan, are considered tall trees, and they can live for quite a long time. I have no idea what the climate is there or what kind of tall nut trees grow there. Perhaps you are not planting tall trees because they take so long to produce?
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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looks good except the paths seem to go through tree trunks..or I'm not seeing them right. I think I would want my paths more between the trees rather than so close to the trunks..I have my paths about 4' from the trunks of my trees here..but it seems quite efficient.
 
Milan Broz
Posts: 87
Location: Croatia
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Walnuts, chestnuts etc. will be a north border of my forest garden, acting as a sort of windbreak, although they would also have it's own windbreak while young. I did not include them in this forest becouse I like picking this nuts after they fall on the ground, and becouse chestnuts create such a heavy shade that does not support much of shorter trees. So I want to say, I planted this nuts, but not in inside food forest.

Yes, some of my "tall" trees are "short" trees in another garden, but in my garden the will be the tallest, so I call them tall trees. Also, apples and pears grafted on wild rootstocks grow quite big in my area, usualy the size of a walnut or bigger. Sweet cheries grow even taller. Plums are much smaller trees, but still enough tall to stand above some shorter tree, like pawpaw. So if I have plum, below it pawpaw or elderberry, below it gooseberry, below it strawberries or so, I have 4 layers, doesn't matter how I call them.

For tall n-fixers, I had not much choice, I had to pick between black locust and black alder. Actualy italian alder would be perfect but could not get it on time, I wanted to start last autumn (and I did). Advantages of black locust are many, but I did not pick it only becouse it's quite invasive in my area. Neighbors would kill me if i bring dozens of BL trees in this area, so finaly I pick black alder. It's still nice choice, but will sufer a bit of summer drought first years. In short tree layer, I found only carragana arborescens, nice multifunctional plant. In shrub layer, I have sea buckthorn, elaeagnus genus, and that's about it. My plant list is quite long but stil not nearly finished. Anyway, I don't want to complicate more than neccessary, some of plants would be quite difficult to order here in Croatia, so I will do it only if rely neccessary.

Climate? Well, zone 7, cold snowy winter, dry hot summer, and soil is quite thin, crushed limestone on the depth of a shovel.
 
Milan Broz
Posts: 87
Location: Croatia
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Brenda Groth wrote:looks good except the paths seem to go through tree trunks..or I'm not seeing them right. I think I would want my paths more between the trees rather than so close to the trunks..I have my paths about 4' from the trunks of my trees here..but it seems quite efficient.


Yes, I want my paths near the trunks. I consider this area least productive. If you are concern about earth compression, I think for a tree is the best to have good, fertile, aerated soil near the drip line, not near the trunk. You dissagree?
 
Alex Ames
Posts: 404
Location: Georgia
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There is a pattern in what you are planting but the pattern itself is a row. You can add dimension
by curving your rows on contour or even throw in some randomness.

I grew up in an area where pecan groves were common. They were always planted in straight rows and
were some of my favorite places.
 
Jordan Lowery
pollinator
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
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i personally recommend laying out the paths first, and then covering trees and such. most of my paths are about 3-6 ft from the tree trunk.

i agree with alex, planting the trees according to your land will help break up simple patterns and introduce more natural complex patterns.
 
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