We're trying to be organic as well as vegan. We're just starting a forest garden in the north of Scotland, on marginal land. What would you advise us to plant for the optimum health of both ourselves and our plants?
I'm sure you know far better than me that northern Scotland is one of the least suitable areas for growing tree fruit in the UK so establishing a forest garden will have its challenges, so I'd prioritise creating a hedgerow shelterbelt of hardy trees and shrubs around your site first, that will provide protection for higher value specimens such as fruit or nut trees whose blossom may be susceptible to damage by late frosts and cold winds that can seriously effect yields. The height of the hedge should be at least one eighth of the size of the area to be protected and needs to be dense in composition in order to provide full protection. Hedging trees and shrubs should be planted at least a year or so before more delicate species go in in order to allow time to get established. Choose multifunctional species that provide wildlife benefits, edible crops or other yields, e.g. crab apple, field maple, hawthorn, hazel, Rosa rugosa, as well as nitrogen fixers such as alder, broom, elaeagnus, etc.