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Who is growing a food forest?

 
Nick Garbarino
Posts: 239
Location: west central Florida
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I have a suspicion there's a lot of gardening going on out there using permaculture techniques, but maybe much less happening as far as designing, planting, and maintaining a true food forest, or edible forest garden. The difference is this - a food forest, after some period of time achieves a state where it is mulching itself, fertilizing itself, pollinating itself, not competing with itself, working synergistically with itself, conserving moisture, buffering itself from temperature extremes, protecting itself from pests, and yielding high amounts of perennial fruit and vegetables. gaia's garden and Edible Forest Gardens both explain the forest ecology that must go into designing a food forest. A perennial polyculture that requires a gardener to provide all these services is just an old-fashioned orchard, with species mixed together. Even a few guilds here and there around the yard does not a food forest make.

So far, I have almost all of my trees and shrubs planted, but I still lack most of the smaller plants. Therefore I am the one doing all the mulching and weeding, and most of the watering. So, I really only have an orchard at this point. But my plan is to continue moving the system toward a food forest over the next year or two, then I may need another 2 or 3 years after that for the trees to get big enough to start supplying enough leaves and nutrients to be able to call it a food forest. I hope it will "pop" as Toby Hemenway describes it, in only a few years. I realize the idea of a totally self-maintaining food forest, with no human intervention, is a very lofty goal, and maybe not even possible, but it is the goal nonetheless, and the amount of human intervention should decline as the system matures, theoretically, if it is designed well.

So, here's my question - who is trying to achieve a real food forest, or already has achieved one that has "popped"? I'd like to start a list. Perhaps it would be good to start a new category on this forum entitled "food forest".

Lets just say that to qualify, the design must have at least 5 of the 7 forest layers, and have large numbers of nitrogen fixers and dynamic nutrient accumulators. It needs to have at least 10 tree-centered guilds, unless the consensus is some other number.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Mine is only in the planning stages.

 
Nick Garbarino
Posts: 239
Location: west central Florida
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That's okay, Tyler, you're on my list with an asterisk.
 
Jordan Lowery
pollinator
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Location: zone 7
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I have a forest garden hat is 5 years old, one that's three, two and a one year old. And expanding into the forest each year. The older one has popped as you say and Is producing well. I'm eating blackberries and finishing up on the greens and such from winter.

Each area has at least 30 species in a 20x50 ft area.
 
Isaac Hill
gardener
Posts: 356
Location: Beaver County, Pennsylvania (~ zone 6)
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I started my forest garden last spring. I have about an acre total with a house, a pond (soon to be more), a long swale at a strategic place, 2 bee hives and a chicken coop attatched to a shed. To the old apple tree, 1 medium sized sugar maple, 2 large ashes, 1 large silver maple and about 10 mature black locusts (many young black locusts have been encouraged), multiple staghorn sumac (small native pioneer tree you can make pink lemonade out of) and 2 large flowering quinces (they have started spreading and forming a small hedge) I have added a persimmon (soon to be 1 more), 2 carpathian walnuts, 1 white and 1 weeping mulberry, 2 standard prune plums, 1 standard peach (1 volunteer peach has been encouraged) 1 standard and 1 dwarf apricot, 2 semi-dwarf pears, 3 pawpaws (had 4 but 1 died and I have several stratified seeds floating around the garden waiting to germinate), 3 aralia spinosas (a medicinal, edible, beautiful, beneficial insect attracting understory tree), 2 hazel/filbert hybrids, 3 beach plums, 2 wild elderberries, 4 blueberries, 4 black, 2 red, 1 white and 1 golden currant (soon to be 2) 3 jostaberry, 3 spineless blackberries (multiple wild blackberries and black raspberries have been encouraged within reason), 2 autumn olives, 1 siberian pea shrub, 3 indigobushes, 2 kiwis, 4 roses, 2 grapes (multiple wild grapes have been encouraged), 3 schizandra chinensis (i think one of them died though), 1 maypop (getting a cutting of another soon) 2 different individual groundnuts (apios americana) some jerusalem artichoke, hollow joe pye weed, ironweed and native asters have been encouraged as native nectar sources and beneficial insect attraction) , st. Johnswort, comfrey, horseradish, burdock, lead plant (n fixer), 4 kinds of mint, mayapple, wild ginger, aralia racemosa, arrowhead, water lily, irises, yarrow, nettles, watercress, pampass grass... and a whole bunch of wild herbs and flowers that we let be (we don't mow much.) I'll be adding a lot more to the herbacious layers over the summer.

It hasn't quite "popped" yet, but by next year I think it will be, and there are parts of it that look and feel magical already.
 
Kay Bee
Posts: 471
Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
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here is the thread for my "forest":
http://www.permies.com/t/7625/permaculture/Birth-Arboretum

only a year old, so many miles to go yet.
 
Jason Matthew
Posts: 66
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This will be my second year. I have continued to add grapes and fruit trees and nitrogen fixing trees. It feels like I have passed the halfway point in development. I know what seed mix I will be putting down in the fall, and it just feels like it is coming together.

 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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I have several "degrees" of food forests here. Before our housefire we had highly established self mulching food forests, but those were removed after the fire with only one tree surviving, and one established one that was not moved or destroyed. The one surviving tree was a crabapple we placed in a bed at the west end of our house. It is planted with lilac, grapes, privit, sweet pea, daylilly, hostas, siberian iris (not a lot of food items in this particular one). The other established tree was a large self seeded apple that is underplanted with hosta, daffodill, daylily, sib iris, solomon's seal, violets, helianthus, burdock, and ferns...also not a lot of food itself.

Since the fire we have been planting food forests also, but these are young. The oldest of these and most mature is a curved row of pear trees at different ages, 2 are 18' tall, 1 is about 10 ' tall, and 3 were planted this year and are under 3' tall (one branched). Below these are established comfrey, daylilies, woodbine vines, siberian iris, aegopodium, coreopsis, thornless black berries, etc. There is a fruit cocktail tree that is about 12' tall that is planted with rose, hibiscus, cotinus, lilac, daylillies, hosta, siberian iris, clematis, and others. There are several small peach trees and a Halls Hardy Almond that are under planted with alberta spruce, old fashioned rose, hibiscus, continue, lilac, tall phlox, daylilly, comfrey, coreposis, columbine, hosta, and others. There is a plum tree that is in a bed with amur maples, ash, autumn olive, spruce, grapes, aegopodium, lilac, elderberry, daylilly, siberian iris, sweet pea, liy of vallye, hosta, bleeding heart, etc.

There are 2 baby hickory nut trees interplanted with a creeping bush I don't know the name of, autumn olive, dogwood, hosta, evening primrose, daylilly, siberian iris, aegopodium, etc.

There are 3 sweet cherries, they are under planted with barberry, autumn olive, strawberries, spireas, roses, foxgloves, hostas, daylillies, siberian iris, alberta spruce, aegopodium, ribbon grass, miscanthus, peony, bearded iris, and many other plants.

There are 2 sour cherries under planted with asparagus, rhubarb, comfrey, bearded iris, (moved out jersalem artichokes), oregano, grapes, and also summer crops of annual vegetables like squash, melons, root crops, beans,gooseberries, honeyberries, herbs, etc.

There are 4 other apple trees underplanted with multiplying onions, thyme, oregano, sage, chives, yarrow, asparagus, potatoes, squash, raspberries, comfrey, etc.

There are 2 sweet chestnut babies, under planted with blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, hollyhocks, juneberries, squash, beans, melons, yarrow, etc.

There are 3 pear trees that died from rabbit damage but 2 are coming back from the grafts under planted now with some herbs and annual crops , Hansen bush cherries, grapes, etc.

There are 2 apple trees that are selfseeded in our woods and are planted among alder, ash, aspen, maple, oak, and the forbes that are wild in the woods and one at the end of our pond that grew out of an alder bush and is being redone right now around it.

there are 5 trees in the Juglone family (black walnut, butternut, carpathian and 2 heartnut) and they are variously under planted with lots of things, mostly comfrey, roses, coreopsis, miscanthus, sweet william, lychnis, daylilies, sib iris, persimmon, seeded in paw paw we'll see if they grow, lots of other plants.

2 apricots (babies) under planted with jerusalem artichokes and forbes right now, baby comfrey plants.

There are 6 hazelnuts trees under planted with baby mulberry, daylilly, comfrey, jerusalem artichokes, siberian iris, and several annual crops.

There are also 4 wild plum trees that have not yet been under planted

And those are just part of our beds we have established..so far..but the most advanced ones.
 
Erik Lee
Posts: 104
Location: Zone 6 - Missouri
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I have a 20 acre place that I'm setting up with alleys of prairie separated by forest gardens planted on contour (watered by swales). At this point I have four forest strips planted out of about 15 that I expect will be there in the final run. The prairie alleys are about 100 feet wide on average and will be grazed using Allan Savory's techniques. The forest gardens are meant to feed both me and my livestock, so they have species for forage and mast as well as the usual suspects for human use. When it's established I'll have all of the layers represented, but right now it's just the trees and shrubs (and a LOT of N-fixing ground cover). I'm aiming for it to come out to about 8 acres of forest garden and 12 of prairie and ponds when it's finished.
 
Charles Kelm
Posts: 170
Location: Western Washington (Zone 7B - temperate maritime)
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I am currently using this book to plan my forest garden. It will eventually be about two acres, but I am starting in areas of about 200 x 200'. I am keeping the existing red alders, but thinning out the other existing trees. I am currently growing many trees and shrubs in pots to put into the food forest.
 
darius Van d'Rhys
Posts: 56
Location: SW Virginia Mountains, USA
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I'm very interested in following this thread, and seeing what others are doing, even if some are just in the early/planning stages. The ones that are "popping" fascinate me!

Although I have nothing worth showing yet, I did start planting a few fruit and nut bushes ~5 years ago; unfortunately it was long before I stumbled on the 'food forest' concept, or even knew what 'permaculture' encompassed. Most of those plantings are now too large to move so they will remain where they are, but I did manage to start one guild last year around a small apple tree. It incorporates many of the food forest concepts, and some of the berry bushes I planted earlier will end up in the understory of the apple tree as it grows. This year it is unbelievably lush, although not very large.

Just last month I had some earth moving done in prep for a much larger food forest area that previously has been "lawn"; it won't have anything much planted in it this year except maybe some deep-rooted things like daikons and blown-in dandelion seeds to help break up the soil the bulldozer compacted. So far I have hauled in and spread 12-15 cu. yards of wood chips to cover the bare compacted area about 5-6" deep, and I've only done about half so far. I'll be 72 this year, and have no help, so this old woman is progressing slowly! However, my fruit tree seedlings won't be ready to go in the ground for another year, so that works out okay. I'm propagating more insectaries in my flower beds, and working on dividing things like comfrey, french sorrel, herbs, chives, daffodils, yada, yada to have plenty of transplants when the soil is agreeable.

I built a 50' long hugel berm at the high end of the new area, and it too is a work in process. Despite upturned sod, grasses are still sprouting along it; perhaps some are from the airborne orchard grass seed I sowed over the drain field. I have a few winter squash plants now in the hugel berm, but it needs a good ground cover, even if just wood chips. My intentions are that the hugel berm will be a soaker/buffer between the rain runoff from the old barn roof above it and the slope down to the creek, with some of my future food forest located in between the two.

Awaiting the new garden prep are perhaps 3+ dozen fruiting plants which include: native elderberries I propagated, several apple grafts from a class I took in spring, haskaps, Cornelian cherries, grapes, plums... and I have a promise of mulberries and chinquapins from friends. There are more I want, along with more perennial veggies, but that;s what I have on hand. I also started a stand of Jerusalem artichokes last year and they have multiplied quite nicely. This fall they will be dug and replanted along the property fence line to act as both a slight windbreak, and a visual barrier to the neighbor.

Making the change from a flower gardener to a sorta vegetable gardener wasn't too difficult. Making the change from traditional gardening, whether flower beds or 'soldier rows' of vegetables into a food forest garden is a whole other ballgame. It promises to be an interesting journey!
 
Guy De Pompignac
Posts: 192
Location: SW of France
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My food forest is at this stage



(elaeagnus umbellata)
 
Nick Garbarino
Posts: 239
Location: west central Florida
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Thanks, everyone so far for sharing. I am curious to hear from food forest gardeners if any of you are able to reduce any part of your maintenance due to your ecosystems now doing it for you.
 
Isaac Hill
gardener
Posts: 356
Location: Beaver County, Pennsylvania (~ zone 6)
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Simply having mulch plants underneath my fruit trees has helped with maintenance significantly.
 
Cris Bessette
gardener
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Location: North Georgia / Appalachian mountains , Zone 7A
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One reason I started my food forest a few years ago is that I am a single guy, so I don't have kids or other family members I can press into service doing the old traditional style row gardening (like my dad did to me and my siblings)- I have high hopes for food foresting because it is literally my only option for growing decent amounts of food by myself without burning the candle at both ends.
I did row gardening when I first moved to my property and it was impossible to keep up with weeding, harvesting, getting rid of pests,etc.

One of my "techniques" to get things moving was to simply stop mowing. Except for trails going to various parts of the yard, I've let it basically go wild and I am getting a lot of trees coming up on their own. Nature is "planting" weeds with deep tap roots like Milkweed, mimosa trees (nitrogen fixing) and others that are helping break up my hard, dead, clay soil. Also I've encouraged clover and there are huge swaths of yard taken over by it now.


Types of trees/vines I have currently: Pomegranate, cherries, black walnut, Goji/wolfberry, quince, peaches, grapes, figs, American persimmon, mandarin oranges, citrangequat, Japanese bitter orange, Kiwi, blackberries, blueberries, banana plants.

Luckily when I moved to my property about 3 years ago, there were some persimmons, apples, grapes, blueberries, black walnut, cherries already fully mature and fruiting, but I've been steadily adding things.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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Yes Nick, the more advanced each food forest area gets, the less maintainence there is. The large apple tree and the pear trees basically have no maintainence other than keeping quack grass out if i can. The peach, plum, almond, fruit cocktail, sweet cherries are established well enough that I do no maintainence there either, and some of the nut trees.

The smaller newer areas are still getting their plantings established and so I'm removing weeds that are too rampant, like quack grass and bindweed..but they are also getting some annual plantings at this time under them.

I really enjoy the ones that are established, mostly all I really have to do is divide things that need dividing from time to time, like daylillies, comfrey, etc...and move the babies to other forest areas. this year I moved a lot of my divisions to the juglan areas and around my pond, and a few into the woodsy edges.

My son has been building a road through the farthest reaches of our woods right now, and I'm trying to find more fruit and nut trees to start deeper into the forests now that there are more sunny edges available, and we can access it much easier now.
 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
pollinator
Posts: 1401
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
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Cris, I am interested in the Goji/wolfberry that you are growing. I am in zone 7b/8a so I'm thinking that if you are growing them I could too. Where did you get them and can you tell a bit about growing them? I don't want to hijack this thread so maybe another thread could be started about the wolfberry or you could PM me?

Nick, I don't know if this qualifies as a food forest; we have 5 old pecans that are serving as our highest point in the canopy, 2 pears, 1 plum, 7 apples, as the next highest point, then there are 5 muscadines, 6or 7 blueberries (need more). Currently just started a 'wild' area in the back that is not mowed and I feed the turkeys whole grains and kitchen scraps there. It has been successful already in that various grains are growing and going to seed along with sunflowers, clover and a lone tomato. We do have mulberries on the fenceline but I want to plant at least one in the middle of the poultry areas that can feed us as well as feed the birds as they fall. Three of the muscadines are in the poultry area so they fertilize the vines, keep insects at bay and clean up dropped fruit.

My goal is to have permanent food area growing that will feed both the birds and the people without maintenance from me other than management of the clean up crew and fertilizing machines (the birds).

I am only on 1 1/4 acre but I am pretty sure that we have not even begun to get as much productivity out of this space as we can.
 
John Polk
master steward
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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@ Jeanine,
Of the 100+ varieties of wolfberry (goji), there are 2 types typically grown here in the US:
Lycium chinense, the Chinese type typically found in health stores, and
Lycium exsertum, the type growing wildly in the Sonoran and Chiuaua deserts of Mexico and Arizona.
You probably don't want the desert type; the Chinese type grows larger bushes.

Seeds of both are available from J.L. Hudson, Seedsman

For a little growing guide, go here: http://www.goji411.com/gojigrowing.html
 
Dave Miller
Posts: 409
Location: Zone 8b: SW Washington
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I have all the major trees and about half the shrubs planted. I haven't started on any of the lower layers yet, except for one apple tree guild which is sort of an experiment. Here is the design (which we had done professionally):



The trees I have include:
- Quercus garryana (Oregon White Oak, native tree for wildlife)
- Acer macrophylum (Bigleaf Maple, source of leaf mulch)
- Acer circinatum (Vine Maple, part of the natives theme, also good fall color - I want my food forest to look nice!)
- Alnus rubra (Red alder, part of natives theme, nitrogen fixer)
- Rhamnus purshiana (Cascara, native tree, berries for birds)
- Corylus cornuta (native hazelnut)
- Hardy almond, 2 varieties
- Several varieties of apple, including one that I grew from seed
- Several varieties of plum
- Several varieties of fig
- American chestnut
- English walnut (almost 3' diameter, was on the property when we bought it, fell over during an ice storm but is still growing well)
- Mulberry (died but I will replace it)

The berries & vines include:
- About 5 varieties of table grape
- Several varieties of hardy kiwi
- Goji, 2 varieties
- Seaberry, 2 varieties
- Chokeberry (Aronia), Red & Black
- Blueberry, about 8 varieties
- Honeyberry, 2 varieties
- Currant
- Serviceberry
- Blackberry/Marionberry, 4 varieties
- Raspberry, 5 varieties
- Rubus occidentalis, native black raspberry

I also have many native shrubs. Originally we were going to have nearly all natives but I have been substituting more and more food plants. Not that I need lots of food plants, I would just like to go out in the yard any time of year and pick something to eat. If it all works out well, I will offer the surplus up to the local volunteer gleaners, who take half to the food bank and take half home.

I'll see if I can get a photo of my apple guild. It mainly consists of comfrey, mint and some kind of monster vetch which buries everything else. I am tired of the vetch though.
 
Guy De Pompignac
Posts: 192
Location: SW of France
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@Dave Miller : this is very dense planting !
 
Dave Miller
Posts: 409
Location: Zone 8b: SW Washington
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Guy De Pompignac wrote:@Dave Miller : this is very dense planting !

Yes, partly because some of the trees are very slow growing and I started them from seed so it will be mostly shrubs as the trees are growing. Also I want plants covering every square inch so I won't have to do much weeding. Our original goal was to have something that looks nice without much maintenance (thus the emphasis on natives).
 
greg patrick
Posts: 168
Location: SoCal, USDA Zone 10b
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We have a 1/4 acre urban lot and most of it is house. Despite these limitations we have 50+ fruit trees in the ground with plans for 70+. We have a nice mix of native anchor trees that bring in the birds, our pride being our 70' sycamore. Some of our trees are big and old and some just went in, but so far we've had constant fruit since late April. We have a layering system that seems to work: Big trees get the ground, medium trees get the raised beds, the third tier gets 24" pots so the roots don't compete, and everything else gets put into raised beds and 5-15 gal pots that are sitting everywhere. We have lots of ponds full of frogs and aquaphonic systems going in this summer. We top dress / fertilize / mulch everything with straw and muckings from the goat pens. Compost bins and vermiculture to renew the soil. We have the following residence living/nesting/hanging out here: Hummingbirds, bushtits, starlings, black phoebes, alligator lizards, pacific chorus tree frogs, California tree frogs, opossums, raccoons, fox squirrels, a red eared slider turtle (just showed up in our pond one day). Dozens of hornets buzz through the plants looking for lunch. Carpenter and bumble bees buzz through the potato vine and apples. We spend about $40/ month on water. Below the trees are raised beds of tomatoes, kale, broccoli, flowers, herbs, borge, plumeria and flats of sprouts for the chickens. We find morel mushrooms growing in our garden every spring.

The two things that I think bring the whole thing together are having the native sycamore and the ponds full of frogs. The sycamore is the soul of our lot and creates a safe place for birds. We have a flock of Cedar Waxwings that spends every spring here, and crows love to hang out in the tree too. It drops lots of leaves that go either into the goat's feed, into the compost bin, or directly into the garden.

For insect control we rely on: Hornets, bushtits, starlings, tree frogs and alligator lizards.

We really have no 'problem' with bugs or weeds.

We water from the ponds to spread the beneficial soil bacteria and algae into the soils.

Spraying water into the trees in the morning attracts the bushtits who come for the water but stay for the bugs.

This year we've committed to converting the front yard into an orchard. So far we have four citrus, a pomegranate, four bananas, six cherimoya and three avocados doing very well.

 
Kathy Burns-Millyard
Posts: 75
Location: Arizona low desert
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It's slow going here but this year I'm finally keeping a few things alive. The first two summers were a huge learning curve.

I currently have 2 baby plum trees about 3 ft tall, and an acacia willow that's about 7 or 8. All just planted about 6 weeks ago. A blackberry and baby strawberry are struggling but still here. An esperanza/texas yellow bell is also slowly getting used to the place. It's not food but it is fantastic for attracting bees, butterflies and birds.

We also have wild mesquite that's semi thick on about a third of the property. Barely getting started but I look forward to having it all well established someday
 
Nick Garbarino
Posts: 239
Location: west central Florida
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I'm curious to know if anyone is seeing self fertilization. If so, how is it being accomplished and how do you know it is happening.
 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
pollinator
Posts: 1401
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
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I am not. My animals and I are constantly adding to the soil.

I have been following Helen Atthowe for quite a while now. She used to talk about vegan farming where you did have input but not from animals. Now she has decided that animals are a necessary part of the cycle for proper fertilization. In both cases there are inputs to the growing cycle.

I am shooting for a sort of closed loop - or at least minimal input. Food for humans and livestock produced on the property and fertilizer both in animal and plant form produced on the property.

Currently all animal fertilzer comes from on the property or from wild animals. We have one migratory flock that stops on my little acre every year and leaves a LOT!!! of fertilizer. As for plant material we still buy a lot of our food so that is an outside input that goes into the cycle.
 
Nick Garbarino
Posts: 239
Location: west central Florida
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For me, the majic of a food forest comes from the self fertilization provided by dynamicnutrient accumulators, mulch plants, and eventually just leaf fall. I would loveto see that somewhere. Edited to add nitrogen fixers too.
 
Nick Garbarino
Posts: 239
Location: west central Florida
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I have mulched my trees, shrubs, and a few other plants, but outside of those relatively small mulched areas, I still have a lot of bare ground and weeds. I need to get a lot of ground cover going because the amount of mulch that it would take to cover most of the rest of the 13,000 square foot area would be enormous. It's going to be years before we have an appreciable amount of leaf fall, so we need to do something in the mean time. I'll be planting buckwheat this fall, and more cow peas this summer, but a perennial is what we really need to cover the ground. I have noticed that our sweet potatoes are growing fastest of everything that could be used as a ground cover. We really enjoy sweet potatoes which are perennial here. So, I'm considering planting a lot more sweet potato. Anybody else using sweet potato as a ground cover for your food forest? If not, what ground covers are yall using?
 
Kay Bee
Posts: 471
Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
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some annual groundcovers are ok. I broadcast a mix of "soil builder" seed blend when starting out. It has vetch, clover, winter pea, wheat and rye seed. They grew ok last year. I let them go to seed rather than cut most of it, and they are all back bigger and better this year. I didn't have to plant them again, just let them go to seed. Lacewings showed up this year and seem to like to hang out on the rye quite a bit.

I also use comfrey that I divided this year from one clump into about a hundred. So far several dozen sprouts have popped up. Dandelion seed is easy to bring in, too.

I like our mix of wildflowers and other weeds that make up the rest of the groundcover on the hugelbeds and paths. Self-heal and yarrow are really coming on strong this year.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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Nick, my most recent post to my blog has a few photos of some of the trees growing in the food forest areas of our property, just a few but you might find them interesting
http://restfultrailsfoodforestgarden.blogspot.com/2012/06/2012-first-day-of-summer-photo-updates.html
 
Nick Garbarino
Posts: 239
Location: west central Florida
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Brenda, I like the photos of your place. Keep us posted on your mushrooms. That's something I'm interested in doing eventually but not for another year or two probably.
 
Jeffrey Hodgins
Posts: 166
Location: Yucatan Puebla Ontario BC
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I have a number of small food forests in three different climates. I own 14 acres and have the use of 2 acres at my parents house. There are 5 properties total, 3 in Puebla, 1 in Yucatan and one in Ontario Canada.
In Puebla we have one acre of 20 year old food forest consisting of Pears, Yellow Hawthorn(Tejocote), Peaches, Plumbs, Figs, Capuli Cherry, Mulberry, Walnut, Avacado and Citrus. The under story consists of Nopal (Optunia), Rosemary, Thyme, Mint, Chaiote, Fig Leaf Squash, Runner Beans, Strawberries, Swiss Chard, Tomatillo, Epazote, Arnica, Oregano, Guasuntle and many others. I plan on establishing Potatoes in all the sunnier spots as well.
In Ontario I`m growing shorter term crops because I don`t own the land, Its not a forest garden but it does have some trees. It is however fairly self sustaining and low maintenance. The perenials in use there are Rhubarb, Raspberries, Leeks, Garlic, Chives, Shallots, Sun-chokes, Comfrey and Currents they all grow mixed together on about 2 acres some things are lacking in some areas, more planting still needs to be done.
In Yucatan I`ve got Dragon fruit, Sapote, Citrus, Chaya, Mango, tamarind, Star Apple, Spanish lime(a fruit and a nut) Elephant Ear tree, Guava, Custard apple, and lots more. The possibilities are endless in the tropics, and I still want to get more variety.

In total I have about 300 mature food trees, about 1500 immature food trees, and about 10000 perennial food plants (clumps) if you don`t count the raspberries in Ontario.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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Dave, your map is a work of art
 
Patrick Thornson
Posts: 147
Location: Zone Five, B.C., Western Canada.
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If I learn how to do a map/drawing and learn how to post it, I will.
I'm not technology savvy.

I have a couple acres. Lots of trees. Mainly bush and a small veg garden. Lots of natural, native medicinal or culinary plants that Mother Nature planted for me.

I'm planning a food forest though.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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in our food forests we lost nearly all of our spring blossoms to frost and then we had a horrible drought..but even then with my baby trees, I have discovered I have hazelnuts for the first year in my hazelnut trees (4 out of 6 have nuts) and my medlar I planted this year has a fruit on it,, one but it is a fruit, and my pear blossoms froze, but I have 2 pears on one of my 10 trees..so I'm so pleased that even with the worst possible weather for trees this year, I have some life and some produce..

so amen..I have a producing food forest ..even though mother nature has crapped all over me this year..woo hoo
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
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Posts: 8982
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Brenda Groth wrote:even though mother nature has crapped all over me this year.


She crapped hazelnuts.

 
Xisca Nicolas
pollinator
Posts: 1277
Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
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I am also on the way....

I hope that some of you will be able to share some information so that I do not do what has already been done (and do more other things!)

Zone 10, aprox 1 acre though I have 4... with a big wild dry zone (pines)
I have been there for a year.
I already have 100 old trees, orange, avocado and mango. Full of pests but alive!
I water and mulch and weed, I still have no hens and little nitrogen fixers. I have some chamaecytisus proliferus, tagasaste in Spanish (hurrah for latin names!), well known in Australia.
I have tea tree and tamarind in pots.
I have some acacia seeds, hope I chose the right varieties... Not easy... I have cajanus cajan seeds too.
I have passion fruit and chayote as vines, and lima beans.
I have also planted neem, ceratonia siliqua, pistacia atlantica...
I put carissa macrocarpa the natal plum in the wetter (hu, less dry!) border as a living fence.
Well I have preakly pears as good fence, fruits and vegatable! I just remove some where needed, and to get some good compost.
I begin to grow some mints and others, and clover, under trees.

I remove all "weeds" that pick or that give more job than depilating! Of course I cannot leave the orchard with no herbs... So I leave all that do not bother me and I look for "interesting weeds"...

And I have a tropical patch in the sunniest place, under a cliff (better than a pile of rocks!)
I also have all the land in terrace, so my use of stones is obvious. I have some grapes for birds and lizards... and they can shade in summer.
I have vetiver plants but need to multiply them before using them for what they are meant.

I will have to slowly replace some trees, as they too much have the same age (60 years for some, 18 for others). I mean that some are ill or not well located, and that I cannot eat that many oranges! And I am on a rich avocado diet...
 
Marianne West
Posts: 131
Location: Lemon Grove, CA
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greg patric: We spend about $40/ month on water.


I am in So Cal as well and spend about $100 a month. That is in the summer - July and august. Is yours water bill all year round that low? How do you do it? - especially with so many pots. They seem to dry out fast......
 
greg patrick
Posts: 168
Location: SoCal, USDA Zone 10b
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We spend a little more than that on water July to September, but not too much more. We mulch/top dress our pots too so they stay moist. The raised beds full of trees suck water the fastest right now so that's where the bark is going next (tomorrow).
 
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