I'm intending to convert about 40 square meters of lawn and underutilised raised beds into a food forest. This is a big leap into the unknown for me. Prior to a few months ago my gardening consisted of intensively tilled annual vegetable beds and conventional lawn. I stumbled upon an interview with Toby Hemenway via a podcast, read Gaia's Garden, and somewhere in my brain it all clicked into place. So, very excited about the project!
The plan is to cram as many perennial edibles into the space as possible, while setting up tailored guilds to maximise benefit and minimise effort. I live in Newcastle, Australia which has a warm temperate climate - think around the lower Mississippi. The north (remember, sunny for us) side of the plot sees some shade in winter, otherwise it should be full sun in summer. It sits on a gentle incline flowing from the north to the south which I'll be leveling out somewhat and sees a reasonable amount of rain. I'll be irrigating in for the hot summer months and will create some buried swales to the north of the site. I'll sheet mulch the grass with compost, soil and wood chips, covered with cardboard and topped with a thick layer of lucerne bales and/or sugar cane mulch.
I was hoping for some criticism and comment regarding my schematic (see hopefully attached PDF). What can I improve? Are any of my choices or pairings rubbish? Any tips for someone high in enthusiasm and low in experience?
Congradulatons on your plan! As time passes, one thing will lead to another. Continue to update your plan over time as plans and priorities change and new opportunities arises. Take lots of pictures. Do share your progress with us. Even our mistakes will open the door for new opportunities.