Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
posted 4 years ago
In planning my landscape, I've got a series of large strips of dense food forest planned along contour, which is on a slope facing roughly South Southwest, and I'm wondering what I can do with those spaces between the northern edge of the food forest and the pasture. [I live around 47 degrees North Latitude, sun loving grasses are NOT going to be very productive in this strip that's shaded nearly all day 8-9 months out of the year [during the time when we actually get water from the sky for free too.]
One thought that occurred to me was using quicker catch crops, things like Radishes and lettuce and such that grow in under 60 days, but there aren't a whole lot of those for variety and crop rotation [yes polyculture beats crop rotation, but it's going to take me a few years to build up a big enough seedbank to seed out self-sorting high density polyculture plantings.]
Thus it occurred to me... what about overwintering crops? How well do these do with limited sun? Things like Fava Beans or Winter Barley/Rye. I don't care if the shady shoulder season delays harvest until late august in these cases.
I also might be able to get a better radish yield out of the space by going with a big overwintering daikon type rather than the quick stuff.
If you can grow brassicas over the winter, they might do very well in that location. Here we start seeding our winter gardens around August and usually have to either shade the beds they're in or transplant the starts after the weather starts to cool. Sounds like you might actually have this as a natural microclimate.
Sounds like a great place to make wood chip beds and grow wine cap mushrooms. Spent composted woodchips can then amend or mulch other areas in the future. Once you get a patch going, you can produce spores and new mushrooms perpetually by adding new wood chips, sawdust, clean straw, etc