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Food Forest 1st Draft

 
Ryan Absher
Posts: 28
Location: Northeast Alabama, Zone 7a
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My brother and I are going to put in a small food forest. Below is our first draft of the plan.


The grid is 10' x 10'. South is straight up.
Legend:
Pr = Pear
G = Goumi
F = Fig
P = Peach
B = Blueberry
PP = Pawpaw
A = Apple
S = Strawbery
Kiwi = Hardy Kiwi

I found a few n-fixers native to the area that several here helped me identify in this thread.
Sweet clover, some lespedza. Also, maybe some lupin or alfalfa.

Then some larger n-fixers. Maybe some mimosa, I believe goumi also fixes nitrogen.

We plan on our canopy trees being semi-dwarf size.

There are many smaller plants that we we want to put here and there, such as herbs, garlic, comfrey, etc.
They just aren't large enough to include on the plan.

We have considered putting in some sort of living fence/fedge/hedge to keep deer out. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Also, with this small of an area, would it be worth it to put in a swale or two? There is a yard adjacent to the area that we
could collect a decent amount of water from.

I would appreciate any critiques, suggestions, warnings, etc. Don't hold back.

Thanks in advance.

[Edited to correct title misspelling]
 
Isaac Hill
gardener
Posts: 356
Location: Beaver County, Pennsylvania (~ zone 6)
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A goumi can get as big as a semi-dwarf tree, so the spacing could be a bit off, and yes they do fix nitrogen. Most pawpaws are not self-pollinating... I think the variety "Sunflower" is though, is that the one you have? Otherwise you should get another pawpaw tree. In all other aspects it looks good! Good luck!
 
Ryan Absher
Posts: 28
Location: Northeast Alabama, Zone 7a
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Ah, I didn't realize goumi could get that large, I couldn't find much size info online.
I have seen some places that claim they only get around 6' tall. Perhaps it is a different variety.

Sunflower is the pawpaw variety that we have chosen.

Thanks for your comments!
 
Isaac Hill
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Location: Beaver County, Pennsylvania (~ zone 6)
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Yeah they might not get quite as tall as the average semi-dwarf in height, but they can get wide. I think they can get from 6-10 feet tall and over 10 feet wide. Where are you getting the plants?
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
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Thank you for sharing your design! Do you have ideas for the other layers (herbaceous, groundcover, vine, root)?

 
Ryan Absher
Posts: 28
Location: Northeast Alabama, Zone 7a
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Hidden Springs Nursery
This is the closest nursery I could find online with most of the species we want to plant.
This isn't locked in stone yet, I am still looking.

I should be able to prune back or even espalier the goumi to keep it smaller, correct? If needed I can move
things out a bit, and it doesn't matter if they overhang the boundaries. This is on a 30 acre plot.

@ Tyler -
We have some ideas, but nothing concrete yet. I was going to try and flesh out that part of the plan tonight. When
I get that part to the 1st draft stage I will post it here as well.
 
Isaac Hill
gardener
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Location: Beaver County, Pennsylvania (~ zone 6)
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Cool! Good nursery. Looks like you're on the ball!
 
Jeanine Gurley
pollinator
Posts: 1399
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
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I'm interested in what variety of Kiwi you choose. I can grow that here but have not researched what varieties people have had success with in the south east. And goumi? I'll have to look that up - if you can grow it so can I but I've never heard of it.
 
Ryan Absher
Posts: 28
Location: Northeast Alabama, Zone 7a
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Possible Path Locations


Ground Cover Map


Legend:
Green = Mixed plants such as garlic, comfrey, n-fixing ground covers, artichoke, plantain, dill, bee balm, daffodils, etc. Maybe some perrenial vegetables
and some vegetables like tomatoes, squash, beans, etc until the canopy starts to close in more.

Light Red = Ground covers capable of handling light foot traffic, maybe clovers.

Yellow = Useful flowering plants, haven't decided on the exact species yet.

We are roughly basing this off the small food forest laid out in gaia's garden. We are not including any zone 1 because
the straight edge at the top is the bottom edge a conventional garden.

We will also be including Catalpa and Mimosa between the fruit trees. These will be cut back as the forest progresses.

@ Jeanine -
The type we are starting with is Hardy Kiwi (Wikipedia).
It is a bit different from the kiwi you normally see in stores. We will be adding a more typical variety as well.
I found a nursery in SC that sells a variety that is hardy to zone 7. 2 female vines and 1 male for $20.
Makenzie Farms We might try those if we can't find something closer.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
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Thank you very much for posting these great plans.

 
Ryan Absher
Posts: 28
Location: Northeast Alabama, Zone 7a
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I just want to point out that this is my first attempt at designing something like this. If anyone has any concerns or suggestions, I would really appreciate you sharing them.

Thanks
 
Jeanine Gurley
pollinator
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Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
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Thanks for the tip! Makenzie Farms is 35 miles from me and I never knew it -- ROAD TRIP
 
Shailor Clark
Posts: 34
Location: Roanoke Island, North Carolina
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I really like this design, although I dont have much input. It'd be great if you keep this thread updated as your project continues!

I live further north and on the coast, so I don't know exactly how well it would work for you but in some of yellow sections of the understory (in sun or shade) you could introduce a spineless variety of Prickly Pear. You can make a simple soap from the pads, eat the new tender pads like a vegetable, eat the sweet flowers & fruit raw. Also the fruit has many hard seeds which can be ground into flower. I just got a few of these and they are spreading quickly.

Also, red/Daikon radishes & carrots grow super well underneath of our pear tree, we never irrigate them and theyre the biggest radishes we have!

Cheers
 
Ryan Absher
Posts: 28
Location: Northeast Alabama, Zone 7a
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I know the spined variety grows well here, so I will definitely check that out.

And thanks for the tip on the radishes and carrots!
 
M Marx
Posts: 57
Location: Los Angeles
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Very Nice -- I wonder if Catalpa can be used for animal feed since they have so many pods -- beautifal shape too.
As an aside,Prickly pair will basically grow anywhere in lower 48 if your not on swamp land.
One variety is endemic to Wisconsin. Sounds crazy I know, but have seen with mine own two eyes.
 
Jeanine Gurley
pollinator
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Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
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I talked to Mr. Makenzie today and have an appt to visit the farm at 9am on Wed. They are actually growing citrus here. I promised myself I would not buy anymore plants this year. Promises are made to be BROKEN.
 
Ryan Absher
Posts: 28
Location: Northeast Alabama, Zone 7a
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Great!
Would you minds letting us know what you think of the place?
If I can't find some things closer I may be ordering some plants from there.
Thanks
 
Jeanine Gurley
pollinator
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Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
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Yes, I'll try to remember to take my camera and see what nugguts of wisdom he'll give away.
 
Jeanine Gurley
pollinator
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Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
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Great trip to McKenzie Farm. Got pics and plants. I will start a separate thread so this one doesn't get hijacked away from the food forest topic. I'll call it McKenzie farm, I'll get it posted tonight. Great place and I'm going back!!

edited to add post link link to post with pics and website
 
Aljaz Plankl
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Hey Ryan. Don't forget time. Before these plants close the canopy, you probably want to have dozen of fruit already... so go crazy with planting berry bushes, plenty of them to choose from, just to mention few... josta, gooseberry, raspberry, blackberry, nanking cherry, currents, ... Peace.
 
Ryan Absher
Posts: 28
Location: Northeast Alabama, Zone 7a
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Ok, time for an update!

We have the land mostly prepared. We still need to dig the swales, but we have them staked out already.

So far we have planted:
  • 2 Figs
  • 2 Cherries
  • 2 Apples
  • 2 Pears
  • 2 Peaches
  • 1 Pecan


  • I also ordered various ground-cover seeds today, those will of course be planted later.
     
    Kris Minto
    Posts: 137
    Location: Ottawa, Canada -- Zone 4b/5a
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    I notice in your original post you had blueberries. Are you planning on amending the soil every so often to reduce the ph level to the correct acidic level?

    thanks,
    Kris
     
    Ryan Absher
    Posts: 28
    Location: Northeast Alabama, Zone 7a
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    At this time we have no plans for that. We have 4 existing blueberries growing around 50 feet away. Those produce very well each year with no amendments.
     
    Ryan Absher
    Posts: 28
    Location: Northeast Alabama, Zone 7a
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    Well, we have more progress to report.

    This is what we have planted now:

    2 Figs, 2 Cherries, 3 Apples, 2 Pears, 2 Peaches, 1 Pecan, 3 Grapes, 4 Blueberries and 3 Hardy Kiwis.
    We also have comfrey, artichokes, sunflowers, various beans, and peas planted. There are around 15 wild huckleberry plants that
    we left intact. We are working on finding a source of Goumi and Mimosa for more support species.

    We just finished one of the swales earlier today, just in time for a short rainstorm. It rained heavily for around 10 - 15 minutes.
    In that time the swale filled almost completely. The water was completely soaked in within 20 minutes of the rain stopping. Most
    of the water came from run-off on the gravel driveway. By my calculations we were able to soak around 250+ gallons of water into
    the food forest. Most of that water, if not collected, would have continued down the driveway causing mopre erosion.

    This was my first time seeing a swale work, and I was amazed at how quickly that amount of water was stored into the landscape.
    (the water has mostly soaked in by the time of the photos)





     
    Jennifer Smith
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    Location: Zone 5
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    Did I understand right, artichoke fixes nitrogen?
     
    Ryan Absher
    Posts: 28
    Location: Northeast Alabama, Zone 7a
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    Not that I am aware of. We are growing them for mulch/organic material and because they are delicious with garlic butter.
     
    Jennifer Smith
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    Location: Zone 5
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    I keep yrying to grow them, no luck so far. I will try again at new, and last, home. Yummy is right! Wish me luck
     
    Drew Buff
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    Ryan,

    I love the design, man. I also checked out your blog. Very interested to see what's happening in 'Bama (I'm in Central Arkansas).
    What software did you use to design the food forest? I'm looking for something simple and free to use for some design work. I'm currently working on my own food forest, not much bigger than yours.

    Any info will be appreciated. Thanks for this thread!

    Peace,
    Drew
     
    Ryan Absher
    Posts: 28
    Location: Northeast Alabama, Zone 7a
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    Hey Drew, thanks for the comments.

    For the design I used a program called inkscape (http://www.inkscape.org). It works under Linux, Mac, or Windows.
    And of course, it is open source and completely free.

    To get everything to scale and oriented correctly I started from a fixed reference point, a corner fence post in my case. From there I took distance and
    compass heading readings to various points on the perimeter. Inkscape allows you to see the angle that you are drawing a line on, so once I picked my
    scale it was pretty easy to generate the basemap.

    Of course, it you have aerial photos of a reasonable resolution (bing or google maps), then you can just import a photo into inkscape and just draw over it.
     
    David Goodman
    gardener
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    Location: Zone 9a/8b
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    This is fantastic - love the illustrations.

    Goumi can be cut back... I think it actually helps the soil, since the plant is a nitrogen fixer. I use its cousin the silverthorn as a nitrogen fixing hedge behind three of my citrus trees. We get berries, chop n' drop fodder, and privacy.

    One thing on your design I might tweak: I don't know what diseases are like in your area, but I've occasionally lost trees to fireblight and other mishaps. With that in mind, I've taken to planting at least three of each kind so I don't lose pollination in case one disappears. Some crab apples are universal apple pollinators (or so I have heard), plus they can be used as a good fruit for jellies and adding flavor to cider. I have five different apple tree cultivars in my yard, plus a crab apple. I also grow four different types of pear, just in case.

    Call me paranoid... but I'd hate to have two trees, wait 5 years for a good harvest, then have one tree die on me and give the bees nothing to spread around to its mate.

     
    Ryan Absher
    Posts: 28
    Location: Northeast Alabama, Zone 7a
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    That's a great idea, I hadn't thought about that. I will definitely look into that.

    I remember my mother used to use crabapples to make pectin for other projects.

    I was working out of town for most of the summer, and never got enough ground cover put in. Consequently the FF got kind of overgrown. Now that everything has gone dormant I'm going to go in and do some major chop-and-drop. I will post pictures and an update here, hopefully by Sunday.
     
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