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Gilbert Fritz wrote:I'm much more interested in the beautiful and edible honeylocust trees. Will they make it where you are? They stand up to anything the weather throws at them, and still produce pods, unlike other trees when they get hit late.



Have you tasted honey locust pods to make sure you find them a palatable food? We have a ton of these trees but the pulp in the pods gives me a strong histamine reaction -- my breath catches, my throat starts to swell, it's by far the strongest negative food reaction I've ever experienced. This could be idiosyncratic to me or to my trees, but I end up advising everybody who is excited about honey locust to make sure they can eat the pulp before they get too excited about using these as food trees.
 
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Tyler Ludens wrote:Yes, I have a few infant Honey Locusts in the planted areas, grown from seed! They may cause too much shade ultimately and need to be removed.



You may be pleasantly surprised when they get big; the canopy of a honey locust is fairly open and allows a sort of dappled/filtered sunshine through it, which is more than adequate for a lot of things to grow underneath. It's one of the reasons why I am fairly pleased to retain my huge ones, once I defeat and remove the enormous horizontal thorned branches that that make it impossible to get within fifteen feet of the trunks. Anything that doesn't need absolutely full sun has a decent shot at growing under a honey locust.
 
pollinator
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No, I haven't eaten any yet, good point. I do know that black locust are fairly toxic.
 
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We have one biggish tree in another location, which has produced a few pods. I tasted one and didn't get a negative reaction, but whether I'll be able to introduce them into my diet is another question!

 
pollinator
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I'm going to slightly evade the question here, but there is a reason for it.

I don't yet know whether a forest garden could provide the food needs of a family, but it's something I intend to find out. The problems seem to lie in protein and, to a lesser extent, complex carbohydrates.

From an ecosystem perspective, even a patchwork savanna-type ecosystem does not support the diversity the land could do. There are complicated decisions to be made, often on the basis of inadequate evidence, of the kind of sizes of a patch required to support some ecosystem services - some species need quite large areas, so this is a complicated question.

That said, my solution to this problem is to not plant the whole thing to forest garden. There is a long list of potential improved annual cropping systems that will also support a thriving ecosystem and provide a balanced diet, as well as a number of non-forest perennials you could be growing on a grassland-forb habitat, some native, some not (but be careful the latter don't get over the fence).

By all means grow a food forest. I'm moving away from the notion of a food forest to the exclusion of anything else.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Neil Layton wrote:
By all means grow a food forest. I'm moving away from the notion of a food forest to the exclusion of anything else.



Yes, that's pretty much my conclusion as well. But I want to pursue the food forest idea for its (theoretical) resilience compared to annual crops. Can I design a food forest which would provide a complete diet if my annuals die from drought or are killed by hail, or perhaps I can't plant them because of, for instance, illness? My gardening efforts have been derailed by illness in the past, and I expect it will happen again.

Also, I don't want to clog up my small kitchen garden with too many perennial food plants so that I run out of room for annuals, so I plan to put many of the perennials in the food forest.
 
Neil Layton
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Please also bear in mind that with climate change many of your perennial plants may not be suited to the new climate. Having some quicker growing species will increase resilience and food security.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Climate change is a huge concern. It could trend toward subtropical here, but with the threat of sudden deep cold in winter because we're not moderated by a body of water (too far from the Gulf of Mexico).

And all our storms lately seem to be "Severe."

http://www.permies.com/t/56589/permaculture-design/Designing-periods-excess-water
 
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