My friend has a property out near Yosemite on the peak of a 3600' mountian top in a established decades/century old forest. Its mostly manzanita, Digger pine, Oak, and California Bay.
The property is the peak its self from all directions but the rest is east facing and south east facing with a very deep loam in the soils under the trees ( 6 or 7 inches down I was still only touching loam) its made up of mostly upper story plants with alot of straggly younger trees poking throughout but almost no other layers are to be seen.
My questions are what is the best way to make not only food forest (with eventually adding plants that can and will be tall trees) but also crop gardens in the existing forest.
Also for anyone with wood selection experience; how do you pick out a tree for wood chopping or for building material and what is the best way to sale whole tree trunks ? Are there specfic things I should look for and any trees I should cut down ?
"When you want to climb a tree you don't begin at the top"
Autumn is a wonderful time to start planning this..before the snow falls but while the leaves are off of the trees.
first plan your trails through the woods, your destinations should be through the woods with wide enough trails to access with equipment that you'll be going into the woods with, whether it be a truck, tractor or ATV..
while you are planning your trails, go around really nice trees and take down any crowded, injured or dying trees in the trail proper..avoid sharp curves that might not be negotiable when leaves are on the trees..
watch for food plants that might already be there, such as bramble berries or fox grapes..mushrooms..etc.
Pile up any wood products that you have left over after removing your firewood and lumber wood, along the side of your trails into areas to prepare hugel beds or for woodpiles for your animal llife..
watch for any clearing areas that might naturally already be in your woods, and lead your trails to these clearing areas as these will be areas where you will want to plant your sunlovers..
also plan yuour south and east edges for sunlover as well..
gaterh excess muclhy and compostables to go into beds along your paths and watch for areas where you can put in fruit trees and fruit or berry bearing shrubs..if you have a chipper some of your branches can be chipped for mulch, bed making or path cover..these will also be good areas to put mushrooms, which can grow even in your pathways.
in some out of the way semi sunny places put your brambles along your paths, make sure you can access them from both sides..
if you have some snags you can grow grapes or kiwi vines up through the snags, honeyberry is another possibliity..
you'll want to layer things with your canopy trees behind uyour fruit trees and berry shrubs and your sunnier plants in front of those, greens can grow in the shadier areas..lettuces and cole crops will grow in the more fertile semi shady areas..
also if you have some open area you might ocnsider some ut trees..and remember your wildlife will enjoy your trails too, so consider that when planting them....esp when you go to harvest your blackberries (might also find a bear harvesting them like we do here)
my blog below
Bloom where you are planted.