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Forest garden trees pattern  RSS feed

 
Milan Broz
Posts: 87
Location: Croatia
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I've studied some recommendations for layout for forest garden. My personal goal is to have as much light as I can for shrub layer. I've red that I should take the recommendations for spacing for ordinary orchard and increase spacing for 50% or so. Also, I found some patterns that deal with available space more creative, like having stripes of dense tree planting and stripes without trees, like zebra pattern.

In my case, land is slightly sloped to the east, so all my walking paths would probably be north-south oriented, and my first thought was to have rows of trees on each side of this paths. By moving them on bigger distance from each other then recommended, I could get a lot of sun at noon time along this paths. But they would all be in shade in the morning and evening.

Then I come up with small deviation of this pattern, that would provide more space from tree to tree, and a sunny paths in the morning and evening. Only shady places would be under each tree and a little on the north from each tree. On my first thought layout I had no all day long sunny places, now I have it in front of each tree. The only thing that I might loose with this pattern is that I can't drive a truck between the rows of fruit trees like in commercial orchard, but that's the last on my mind.

On my drawing I marked how I see sunny places. Yellow are places that get strongest light at noon time, and orange are the paths for morning and evening light. What do you think? Is this pattern common, and are there some more productive patterns?
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Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9690
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Personally I would go with the second plan, just because to me it looks more "natural" and pleasant. 
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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the ziggy pattern is highly recommended for forest gardens in a lot of books..I have used a circular pattern for mine..with a circle of hugel beds or other around each of my fruit trees (in one of my gardens) and then a path around that..however, it does use up a lot of ground to paths, but it also makes a lot of edges and makes reaching things in the beds quite easy..at least it seems to be working out well for me..

I also have fruit trees in mixed perennial beds on all sides of my house..right now they are babies so I don't really need to get in to harvest, but when I do I have a pile of steppers that I'll place a few of in and around the beds so I don't compact the beds when I walk in to pick produce.

diagrams ar on my blog below
 
Guy De Pompignac
Posts: 192
Location: SW of France
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Martin Crawford advices to let 30% to 50% of the crown diameter of space around canopy tree to have productive understorey layers
 
Milan Broz
Posts: 87
Location: Croatia
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permaguy wrote:
Martin Crawford advices to let 30% to 50% of the crown diameter of space around canopy tree to have productive understorey layers


And that's what I'm planing. Space like 20' between trees? I made some "solar study" of this ziggy pattern, looks like there are spaces that gets light all day long, some which are mostly shaded, and a lot of space that is shaded only in the morning or evening. Yes, it looks like a good chance of highly productive understory layers.
Solar.PNG
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Posts: 172
Location: Amsterdam, the netherlands
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with all due respect to martin crawford, without suggesting that i know better;

It seems to me impossible to name one best distance between canopy trees in a forest garden. The distance robert hart named always seems way too close to me.

I think your lattitude influences this distance, but also what you want to grow as understory.

When i get a bigger piece of land to work with (at least 1ha, as the piece of land where im helping my mom develop her permaculture system), i would probably have a foodforest in zone 2 and one in zone 3-4 of the place, or it might be all one connected foodforest where the closer you get to the house, the more distance there is between canopytrees. 50% of the crowns seems to me the minimal (here in temperate holland), just a bit more than in normal (standard or half-standard) orchards. Just to create a benificial understory that increases yer yield.

More towards my house  would like to grow most of my vegetables in a forest garden setting, having as small a zone one with kitchen en herbs garden as little as possible. The distance that is common for food forests here, mostly based on zone 2-3 forest gardens, is to have twice the space of the crown around a canopy tree. this means that from the dripline to another tree's dripline there is the full width of a crown between them. many people make mandala shaped gardens around their trees. Making a circle or mandala of twice the diameter of the crown of the tree (as big as it would be when it was completely mature of corse) with the tree in the middle ensures enough light in for many vegetables we've gotten used to in this age.

in this in between space there are more plants than only vegetables, also dwarfing trees or sunloving shrubs.
 
John Polk
steward
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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I like the second pattern as well.  "Staggered" plantings like that are very common in orchards.  If you space a little looser, you still have the diagonals as truck/tractor paths for maintenance.  You could even do a lot of your harvesting from the bed of the truck (saves carrying a ladder around).  It is true that you get fewer trees per area, but with the added sunlight, you get more (and sweeter) fruit per tree.

Since fruit trees take a few years to grow large, and strawberries generally only produce well for three years, many orchardists plant strawberries between the rows.  By the time the trees are providing too much shade, the berries are due to be pulled anyway.
 
Jan Sebastian Dunkelheit
Posts: 201
Location: Germany/Cologne - Finland/Savonlinna
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I don't think any of the patterns look natural. Even a circle is not very natural. Isn't a forest garden about creating edges? Not a real thick canopy but suntraps and productive low growing berry and nut bushes at the edges of the trees. Under them the low growing shrub layer. I always thought the edge as the most productive and important part of the forest garden.
 
Milan Broz
Posts: 87
Location: Croatia
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Robert Hart's garden is a broken canopy, from what I have seen. He has dense trees areas, and clearances without trees. Under trees he can grow shade tolerant bushes, and sun loving ones goes where canopy is broken.

Since I care more for bushes, and less for trees, I was looking for pattern that can provide maximum production in lower layers. Trees are here for other benefits, they are not in forest garden only to produce food. So, I'm trying to find pattern that could give me as much as possible trees, but without shading lower layers.

Robert Hart says plant tall trees at 20' distances, and short trees between them. This creates closed canopy, so creating clearances and edges is mandatory. I say, plant all trees at 20' distance, some of them will be bigger, some will be shorter, but there will be no closed canopy, anywhere. Edge is around each tree.

That is how I see it from present point of view, but I will know only 15-20 years after planting. My smaller forest garden will be different, I'm planting all trees at 12'-15' distances, and at same time lower layers. While trees are small, I will have best production in lower layers, and when bushes got old and at the end of their lives, trees will enter it's maximum production. Maybe it will be ordinary orchard then, or I will cut come of trees to let more light in. But here I was talking of pattern for my bigger forest garden that can provide enough light for longer period. I know that any pattern is not natural, but it is a garden after all, not a forest.
 
Michael Radelut
Posts: 204
Location: Germany, 7b-ish
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If you're in the South, that zigzag pattern might have some benefits, as it provides shade for the shrub layer, but if you need the maximum amount of light, the zigzag will result in a lot of shady areas in spring and autumn.

You could indeed get in more light if you allowed greater distances between individual trees, but why not do the following - especially as you are on a slope anyway:

Plow on/parallel to the Keyline, make the mounds, and then put the trees in, in N-S direction. You'll have them equidistant automatically, in a more pleasurable pattern, and with the maximum amount of light in and around them.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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I think each person should do the pattern or design that works out best to meet their needs..

On our property I am old and my husband is disabled, so I'm going with a lot of dwarf trees although some are full standard size..and a few are semi dwarf..

also I can't really climb a ladder with my partially disabled body (hip replacement and a lot of pain) so I have mine arranged to suit my health and my needs.

I have hedgerows and suntraps around the main food forest garden to provide a lot of different needs including fruit as they are made of wild plums, hazelnuts, serviceberries, mulberries, hawthorn, buffaloberry, red, yellow and black raspberries, blue berries and black berries on North West and south sides and on the east where we get the most sun I have asparagus and perennial crops with a mountain ash and baby paw paw

in the center of this are 3 dwarf apples, 3 dwarf pears, 3 dwarf cherries and a lot of perennial food crops as well as some annuals in the summer.

I plan to move some stone fruits to this area as well..this summer from where they are

I also have fruit crops planted around the house on the slopes going down from the house and I have other apple trees in various places on the property and other nut trees, 3 kinds of walnut, almond, chestnut, etc.

these are the plants we feel will meet our needs as we age more..without requirig a lot of replanting or climbing to harvest..i also have grapes and other vines and plan to put in more..I hope this is helpful
 
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