I am very excited to be planting my first forest garden this Spring. My plan is to section off about 1600 square feet of my back yard and let the chickens destroy it while adding carbonous mulch material. The size is determined by what I can contain with a 164' section of electric poultry netting. Once the chickens have suppressed the grass, I will build earthworks. Then I plan to plant it with clay seedballs and move the chickens to the next section of what I hope will one day be an effective forest garden/poultry paddock system. When the seeds start to grow, I plan to observe, chop and drop, thin, and plant as needed. Eventually I plan to have 7 such paddocks with mown or mulched paths between them for the movable electric fencing.
Here is the current version of my plant list. The pic is a drawing of our property I made using sketchup.
Please comment if you have questions or constructive input on this plan.
Seeds that need light (no seedball) Astilbe Astilbe sp.
Yarrow Achillea sp. Black Eyed Susan Rudbeckia sp.
Seeds that need stratification before seedballs AppleMalus sp. Black Eyed Susan Rudbeckia sp. Blueberry Vaccinium sp. Cherry Prunus avium Columbine, Alpina deep blue Aquilegia alpina Echinacea Echinacea sp. Goumi Berry Elaegnaceae multiflora Lupine Lupinus sp. Pear Pyrus sp. Peach Prunus persica
Seeds that need Scarification before seedballs
Black Locust Tree Robinia pseudoacacia Nasturtium, dwarf Tropaeolum minus
the iris narcissus and tulips are great for pollination and also really good at holding soil in high erosion areas..such as banks.. some permaculture people use narcissus as a weed barrier around the dripline of fruittrees in a food forest system, but they do warn not to confuse them with onions..(can't see most people confusing them)
Bloom where you are planted.
i think i would forget the iris, narcissus, tulips, unless they were for trade value, and use a lot of different types of lilies. you know, like the orange ones on the roadsides. edible and beautiful and attract pollinators. i have seen them growing in heavy compacted soil on the edges of driveways near where i used to live, in Fremont, newaygo county.
i think i would grow a few potatoes or something like that during the first year in those areas the chickens have opened up, provided there is enough sunlight. depending on how thickly your seedballs are placed.
what about roses for your perennial areas? they grow great in your climate, make those rose hips, and the leaves are good fodder for rabbits.
Around here the flowers in question sell like mad during spring, and just because you can't eat it doesnt mean it's useless in a system. I say add them and any other non eatable plants you like. They may not be eatable but they have uses.
The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings. - Masanobu Fukuoka
Location: SE Wisconsin, USA zone 5b
posted 7 years ago
The flowering bulbs were reccomended for support species in Gaia's Garden, though I can't remember the reasoning now. My thoughts are to attract pollinators and for cut flowers in the Spring.
Chrissy, I like the roses idea. We have some up by the house, but I will keep my eyes open for a good spot once the seeds are coming in. I am also thinking I should have had potato onions and garlic on the list though I wouldn't plant them until next Fall. Potatos I hadn't considered, but I will likely build a hugelkultur or two into the system before planting and add them there.
Has anyone heard of chickens being harmed by toxic bulbs? I know we won't confuse them but...
I would focus perhaps a bit on the berries and also include many allium perennial species like ramps, chives, potato onions or walking onions.
Also some more nut trees. But overall its a good list. And I like that you distinguish between which species to include in the seedballs and treatment to give them.
Good luck for those seedballs!
in Portugal, sheltered terraces facing eastwards, high water table, uphill original forest of pines, oaks and chestnuts. 2000m2
in Iceland: converted flat lawn, compacted poor soil, cold, windy, humid climate, cold, short summer. 50m2
Seed balls are for delayed sporting is that what you are aiming for?
Trees will host alot more bugs and drop alot more fruits than grass.
Chickens are jungle birds and prefer that over grass/grain.
You can still plant grass under trees.
Plus the mulch under the tree will host alot more bugs.
So add more than just 3 trees.
I would also replace the 40ft chestnut tree with 4 smaller ones like hazel/apricotnut/yellowhorn/seaberry