The best I have found so far on making a Food Forest is Geoff Lawton's video "Establishing a Food Forest the Permaculture Way". It is an excellent resource and gave me the confidence to start mine.
One factor could be that 'it got there first'.
I would think long and hard before trying to build an intensive system
I am unconvinced that everything we see is a reflection of environmental controls.
Joel Hollingsworth wrote:
I bet there are local, native varieties you might use for ground cover.
in Joop's public space, grass underfoot might not be the worst thing.
marinajade wrote:The forest gardening books emphasize that preparing the soil at the site by planting cover crops for a few years before the over story is planted will greatly increase the chances of successfully introducing your new polyculture.
I do however prepare each bed before planting to give the plants the best start. The difference in the trees and plants between those beds which are prepared .... [lasagna style layering of compost material right into the bed] ....and those just left untouched and layered with mulch on top... is enormous... so I will continue to do this. Very hard wrok but a once off.
Some trees were planted at the beginning as part of the final overstory and some were merely nurse trees to be slashed and laid as mulch as part of the succession.
The exchange of more physical labour for the instant satisfaction of quick succession is a worthwhile exchange to me. It's a once-off. The Food Forest I have planned is essential to all the other animal integrations I plan into my system. Without it I cannot feed them sustainably. I do not consider buying in fodder as true sustainability. It takes time for trees to mature and putting them in first makes everything else possible a lot faster. Good economic sense. It is not such an enormous task. I am doing it will one helper. I do have to admit to love being outdoors... so that helps when the sun is hot.
Well, that's what I'm saying. Instant succession with sheet mulching and the like is instantly satisfying but ends up requiring more physical labor. It works really well with groups of people - lots of hands make little work, and the reward of seeing trees in the ground -- nothing else like it! I think it's most appropriate for small sites or public projects.
Agreed. But I have found it preferable. Quick sucession is what I need and his methods are successful worldwide. Knowing exactly where I want to place the trees and nursing them with legumes and green mulching and legumous nurse trees .... and then later designing more permanent guilds around them makes the most sense to me. I want accessibility to the trees and so careful initial placement keeps this as a priority. These trees are key to my fodder and forage management later. I want most of my farm laid down to FoodForest and water. I think FoodForest is the most productive way to produce food sustainably on any land. Sun loving plants will be in edge guilds.
I respect Lawson enormously, and what he's contributed to permaculture and forest gardening is very important, but working from the overstory down is only one way of establishment.
I don't think anyone was talking about removing any trees. Nurse trees are mostly legumous and become permanent mulchers. And are positioned as such, deliberately, in the first stage of design.
It's very useful in designing the horizon point of a mature forest garden, but the design process and the physical process of planting things don't necessarily have to follow the same course. I personally don't want to plant a tree knowing that I'm going to remove it later. I'd rather either plant that tree as a permanent mulcher, or find a smaller herb or shrub that performs the same function but isn't as much of a deal to replace later in the succession. Just my preference.....trees are a pain to remove if you don't want them there.....
The joys of Permaculture. And probably why we keep learning. The site has to be studied.
I think methods need to match the particular site you're working with.
I would not do this. Waste of predious time and energy. I would rather deep dig as I have done right down below all perennial rooting ... [I don't have excessivley deep rooted grasses thankfully]..... harvest all rocks and stones for building... and at the bottom of the trench start the lasagna-style layering of composting material. Hard work.... but once-off .... with outstanding results. I am on virgin bushveld and so no pre-agricultural land.
If you sheet mulch over established perennials with persistent rhizomes, you'll probably be repeating the process in a few years, if not at the end of the season (I speak from experience!). And if you're dealing with the most persistent of these plants, you run the risk of your desired species not being able to compete very well (or at all), and will require more labor in later years.
For example (kind of an extreme one but it makes my point): I interned in a garden that was planted in a burmuda grass live stock pasture.....soooo much needless work because twenty years ago there wasn't anything done in the way of site preparation, and we had to constantly dig the grass from the edges of every single garden bed, all summer long, every single year. And in the perennial plants, we couldn't get to the grass, so it grew very well in the middle of anything that didn't get turned over annually. It turned gardening into a battle of the grass. Not fun!
Or virgin land.
The best sites for forest gardens are often the most neglected ones, the places that need healing.
As you said previously... the site comes into play here. Good virgin soil is not in desperate need of improvement. The top-soil I am sifting is superb. I have no problem in finding all the bio-mass needed. The problem would be in what to do with it all if I was not prepared to lay it into the beds. I believe this is supreior to composting... where leaching causes some loss in nutrients .... And I want quick succession ... even if it involves hard labour at first. No need to pay gym fees at the moment and lots more than fitness to show for my time. My fitness can be considered as an added sustainable benefit
Spending a few seasons cover cropping, and planting herbs and shrubs before the trees go in will improve the soil dramatically without the laborious process of planting everything in lasagne style mounds (there is also usually the problem of where to get all that biomass for this type of planting). Though, for some soils that might still be required for good growth.
No need to pay gym fees at the moment and lots more than fitness to show for my time. My fitness can be considered as an added sustainable benefit
Well, does this site have photo hosting or does it need an external host? This is a link to the set of our farm photos at my flickr account, more than you'd ever care to look at.
Wolf, I'd highly recommend buckwheat as a cover crop for warm weather. They can't handle any kind of frost, but the seeds sprout in 12 hours and have huge flat leaves in their young life - perfect for shading out other things. If you chop it before they seed all the way they'll accumulate phosophorous in the soil. They're amazing bee fodder. And we harvested just some of ours (it grows so fast you can get several crops a summer here) and got 4 gallons of buckwheat seeds, to eat and replant! Freshly toasted and ground buckwheat pancakes are probably the best thing ever.
about how much buckwheat you had to plant for that yield?
Probably a pound and a half to two pounds (less than a gallon)? I over-sowed the first time in the corn, and the plants were too small in many places to really produce good seed, though they made lots of flowers that the bees appreciated. I used hand broadcasting....a hand held seed broadcasting machine would probably do a more even job.
This may be a bit off topic, but how have you kept the deer and other browsers from taking advantage of your young and tasty fruit trees and other plants?