a very important issue. That yes indeed many who construct food forests tend to go a bit too fruit heavy when deciding what to plant.
Many people put a focus on trees, particular fruit trees, in their design of a food forest, and there is not much discussion about planning the other layers. Perhaps others have planned these layers, but focus on the trees when talking about their food forests?
Also this thread has brought up how often discussion of food forests concentrates a lot on the trees, but tends to forget the importance of the other layers of this design. There are the shrubs, the herbs, the roots, the vines, the ground cover.
This sounds good in theory, but it seems to me, in practice that annual food plants will not naturalize/self seed unless the land is disturbed or regressed to an earlier succession stage than a thriving forest ecosystem. If not outright disturbed, the ground would need to be bared (or nearly so) of mulch, which brings weeds into the picture. This does work, in areas that are being 'worked', but otherwise not so much, in my experience. Perennial plants, or heavy seeded perennial weeds, want to take up the space, if the mulch is cleared.
I think there's also a possibly excessive concentration on perennials at the expense of self-seeding annuals.
I agree that too much focusing on perennials especially in my latitude would be wrong. I have no problems with using annuals, but I would like perennial options to replace where I can, and in the food forest, I would likely predominantly be transplanting these annuals into place from the nursery, rather than seeding directly, although I will try to seed some directly as well as doing seedballs, pre-sprout and broadcast, and simply broadcast, etc, in annual polyculture areas/beds. but the idea of naturalizing annuals is, in my opinion and partly in experience, more of dream than a reality, their validity is mostly theoretical in my experience/location. These plants have mostly evolved with human intervention, and... are not likely to thrive in places without intensive human interventions. I envision the food forest as more of an intact system that produces by itself with no interventions.... but... I'm not saying that that can not be incorporated in a food forest, but that annual gardening has to be almost a separate system within the food forest, rather than really integrated in the perennial matrix/fungal soils that the food forest area will become... so I would like to have more perennial options.
I think naturalizing annual food plants are every bit as valid in food forests as perennials.
In my case, my food forest is utilizing the meadow/forest transition edge. The conifers were planted by the previous owner about 20 years ago, and although I do want to encourage the natural regeneration (allow small natural trees to grow up), to a degree, I also think that if I don't intervene, then much of my food forest area will succumb to their vigor and shade.
I also commonly see people talking about clearing existing forest to put food forest in.
Tyler's quote makes me remember a discussion on food forests where people were trying to define it and create truisms. I think that Tyler's example, and what Peter is describing, and what I am describing are all food forests that are specific to the location/ecosystem and desire/limits of the horticulturalist involved. There really isn't a right or wrong way, in my opinion, but... also in my opinion, we should be considering getting as much diversity, and as many long lived system in place as possible, not only to reduce work but to create resilient and long term fertile soil systems.
I'm mostly thinking about the other layers for my Food Forest because it already has a canopy of large trees, so the fruits I'll be planting will primarily be shrubs. But I also want to plant a lot of non-woody things, if I can identify some which can survive our extremes of drought and flood.
I think that this thread can be a place where we discuss these later additions as a recently incorporated element that is new and worth mentioning. If you get your perennial scarlet runner beans happening, Tyler might be interested to know, for instance. For me, runner beans are not going to be perennial unless in a heated greenhouse.
I actually suspect this is a large part of why so much food forest discussion focuses on the trees and ignores the other layers. By the time the other layers are installed it isn't the new thing we're talking about.
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