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Distilled advice: Sharing forest garden strategies in simple statements.

Posts: 16
Location: Melbourne, FL
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Perennial polyculture and forest gardening, have captured our imaginations and focused our efforts, but the maps are still being drawn. What kind of advice would you have liked to hear years ago when you first started? I'll start a list:

Develop water catchment early.

Introduce animals as soon as practical. Earthworms, rabbits, chickens, goats, pigs etc.

Be as conscious of animal fodder as human food.

When removing dead trees and brush, save the biomass for hugelkulture.

Enjoy the niche created by tall pine trees (and other existing species). Don't mindlessly clear land.

Involve the neighbors with your strategies. Support theirs.

Hire and trade within the neighborhood.

Create a nursery / propagation area.

Over plant. Some species have a short life expectancy anyway. Coppice.

Plant fast growing trees to goose your enthusiasm. Mulberry jumps out of the ground in Florida, as does Moringa, papaya, and many bamboos.

Keep a list of shade tolerant plants. Some day you will need more of them.

Avoid planting things that need well drained soil in areas that flood on occasion.

Observe and create micro climates.

On bike rides, stop and talk to caretakers of interesting gardens. Trade seeds, plants and stories. (Local sources vs. mail order)

Save room for the mysteries of seedling (un-grafted) fruit trees. Some produce fruit at a young age.

and so on...
Posts: 1947
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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These are great.

I'd add:

Observe and make peace with invasives, they may not be a real problem. If they are, observe them carefully to figure out how to let your desired plants out compete them.

Imagine the real maintenance a garden/guild will need before planting anything.

Posts: 9002
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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I'm with you on most items. I have one neighbor who is doing horrible things to his land. I can't support that. Two neighbors are clear cut forestry companies. They are far better stewards of the land than neighbor #1. Luckily the neighbor who I share a kilometer of boundary with, has environmental concerns similar to my own.
Posts: 386
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Start planting from canopy down, not other way around.
Posts: 41
Location: Costa Rica 100 meters above sea level, Tropical dry forest
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Nice list to start with. I would be careful introducing larger animals unless they are well secure. I still have problems with my sheep. Yesterday they got out of damn electric fence and clipped the tops of my new Papayas in what must have been a couple minutes. In theory it seems awesome mixing the animals in to graze. Reality is it can be very frustrating. Good woven fences, if I were to do it again.
I would take into consideration if you want some blue sky or just forest and leaves. Once everything gets established it really cuts down on visibility and light, and breeze.
To start my trees I would dig a big hole and fill it with the best soil you can make, . Why not give them a super healthy head start. Can shave years off production time.
Planning and maps to get a good vision of how you want this forest to be Including livestock ideas and drainage..
Nitrogen fixing ground cover, shrubs and trees.
I like multiple use plants. I can eat part, the animals can eat fodder. Or nitrogen fix and edible parts. Bananas, peas and beans, moringa, mulberry. sugar cane, to name a few.
Bear in mind the special needs of plants, animals and humans. Water, soil, light, temperature, food, wind, efficiency and ease of use.
Be Sure to use quality tree stock when planting. Have actually heard of some horror stories on this topic. I have been had on several. Now looking for ways of grafting to salvage. After babysitting these trees for years. and watching a larger percentage than I'd like die. You surely want to have some good stock to reap the fruit of your labor.
When it starts coming together it is amazing.

We cannot change unless we survive, but we will not survive unless we change. Evolving tiny ad:
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