My club has been trying to get this project off the ground for the longest time. We've been given a fairly remote spot on our campus, about half a mile from the nearest running water. We have a roughly 115'x77' plot(see attachment), with a small pond in the middle and some oaks at a guestimated height of 50ft (I suck at measuring by eye) directly to the south. Last year's club invested heavily into the soil and it shows, now incredibly rich, loamy, and tilthy. We weeded the place of vines that sprung up over summer, and a month later, a lush meadow replaced it. I'm not sure offhand what the pH is, but I'm pretty sure it's fairly neutral (will find this out soon), but I think we can amend this
I was thinking of doing the U-shaped design I saw in Gaia's Garden (originally from How to make a Forest Garden), so I was thinking the semi-standard trees would take up the north ~25ft, dwarfs taking up the next 15-20ft, and so on, with small veggie beds around the pond, perhaps in a mandala pattern. I want to build up a slight slope to direct the water either towards the pond or to some catchment, so we'd only have to water with a pitcher, if that.
What trees would be best to guild in this small area so that we can get a varied harvest with minimal input? Could someone give an example of a guild that would work well here, and how much space it takes up?
One thing I haven't grasped, though I now how a guild works, I don't know how all the plants relate spatially. Recommended spacing for say, an orange tree is 20ft in an orchard, if I recall. So is everything in a guild supposed to be outside the 20ft, or within it?
Regarding paths, could I fit a mandala pattern, with a small flower bed around the pond and an open sitting area around it at the center? Would I need to make specific paths in the more foresty area, or would that be taken care of simply by proper spacing?
Should I have a separate shrub layer, or just put shrubs in guilds with the trees? And if I do have a separate layer, how do I arrange access to them? Put them in a mandala as well?
Any helpful advice is very much appreciated and very much needed.
when it to a food forest/savanna guild. You have to think of it both in terms of year 1 when the biggest tree is only 3ft and in year 20 when the bigger trees are 25ft.
In year 20 you want to have at least 25% of the tall mature plants to be nitrogen fixing. So if you plan on having forty plant with 20ft centers then ten of those huge plants should be n-fixers. In year 1 when these soon to be huge mature tree are only 3ft tall you want to cover all the 'empty' space between the plants with some temporary thing other than say kudzu. We can call these temporary plants/weeds a guild. What should we included in this collection of temporary 'weeds'. Some pest management plants (mint family, onion family), some more nitrogen fixers ( some recommend that 90% of the plants should be n-fixers in year 1), some bio-mass building plant (grain family), something in the cabbage/kale family, and so on.
In year 20 most of these temporary plants will be killed due to a lack of sunlight, however the plants at the edge of the BIG mature plants will get just enough sunlight to not die and might even provide a harvest, esp plants that naturally grow/produce on a forest floor like say things in the onion family, blackberry. Other plants that are normally prolific might now be manageable, mint family. Maybe elderberry and gooseberries will grow for you but tampa is a bit warm at 9b and around 100 winter chill hours.
Now if we are talking about a vegetable guild that is a completely different story,
Iterations are fine, we don't have to be perfect
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