I'm looking to try using an established Hemlock tree as the starting point for an acid-based, circular mini forest garden to gain some experience. Thinking wintergreen and blueberries. I could really use some super basic instructions, but so far I've not found good step-by-step info. Could anyone point me in a good direction?
And then any advice you have for me would also be hugely useful!
Darn, I guess my post was just too vague. I've just never seen any good info on food forests that are written with a newbie in mind. I can find many articles that describe the philosophy, but nothing on what "actually works in the field." How far away should things be planted? Should other techniques be used like swales or maybe something I haven't heard of yet? Is it as simple as, "Plant a bunch of stuff around a tree and that's a food forest?" Maybe so and then my question is moot. But it seems like there would be some finer points. Is it different if the tree is already established than when you are planting the tree as well?
As far as how to plant plants - that's not necessary.
I also have some trouble finding lists of different plants that work particularly well together. It's all a bit overwhelming, so I am never sure where to start. If I wanted to start an apple tree in Zone 5, what would you plant around it, for instance?
Does that help, or am I barking up the wrong tree? (Oh I crack me up.)
Midwest Permaculture has some pretty good info on how to create a guild here:
http://midwestpermaculture.com/2013/04/plant-guilds/ I think starting with the guilds would be a decent place to begin with your food forest adventures. But really you actually can just plant a bunch of stuff together and see what does and doesn't work in your situation. That's kinda the beauty of these techniques, they're completely open and free flowing, just mess around and see what works for you. Everyone's interpretation and experience is going to be a little different.
I'm in Northern Ohio, so similar to your climate. I have blueberries on the edge of my conifers and they love it. Further out (or closer in towards my house rather) I have appletrees with comfrey and clover underneath. But, I agree that if you are like me, go ahead and plant a whole bunch of things around the area and see what does best. Garlic is always nice for underneath apple trees. Before just planting into the ground, I would Hugelkultur it up first, and mulch the crap out of it and then just start planting into it. But there are lots of more specific resources out there and the midwest permaculture site is great, as mentioned.