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Who is growing a food forest?  RSS feed

 
Posts: 258
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Who is growing a food forest ? Well I will timidly raise my hand that my intent is to. I have varieties of fruit and nut trees planted interplanted with things like hawthorne , cedar, willow, honey locust, fir also planted in what was an empty pasture . Most of my plantings are tiny whips and saplings with some mature apples, walnut , spruce and fir , plums, figs, hazelnut, peach, nectarine , grapes, kiwi . I have two ponds dug and a liner salvaged to put in the larger 20 ft x 40 ft pond this summer out in the pasture area which hopefully will one day be denser food forest with small avenues and clearings left for small livestock grazing and or other food production like small lots of grains perhaps . Right now it looks more like a hopeful orchard planted with salvaged pallets tied to form boxes around the planted trees to give protection from the horses I currently have. It is a challenge and I have as many fails as successes . Being in Canada , nothing seems to grow as fast as I would like .
 
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Lisa,

It is a start and that is all any of us have. I think one of the pieces of starting is research about what local indigenous people ate in our location. (until they were either pushed out or killed, of course) Out here it would appear that Native Americans were all out on the shore. They must have journeyed inland some, for hunting and gathering but they were primarily people living on the marine edge of the forest. There are a few native people around here who can teach a little about wild foods, but not much. Just one plant is significant however. In my more urban gardening I have evolved to relying on giant red mustard for my greens almost exclusively because it is so easy. Could be its spicy flavor makes it somewhat uninteresting to deer? I'm going to find out.

It seems to me that wild food is the place to start because it is adapted to the place. I also have no problem with introducing domestics into the forest. (sigh) So much to learn. So little time.

Some time ago I noticed something about hugelkultur and just passed it by. Now I have looked into it more and realize that it may have important meaning for our forest project. We have huge trashpiles, left from the clearcut, that are small areas of several thousand square feet where there is still a lot of light and not much growing. With an excavator I can get into those and create giant hugelkulturs where I could do some intensive planting. My deer and elk, being browsers, move as they eat and do not usually destroy plants totally. If I plant enough there will be some left for humans, especially if we also eat the deer and elk. (Strangely, they find this frightening.)

Good luck with your project. Keep in touch.
 
Lisa Paulson
Posts: 258
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Thank you Dave, adding comment to what you mentioned , I started a hugelkulture style bed with windfalls and brambles exposed over winter, added prunings and will slowly work to cover it further with soiled bedding from our barns and it came together as a means to clean up and put to use the woody fibrous materials and serve as a buffer to absorb or deflect road noise since it is a small 4 acres in a suburban area of hobby farms but when this slow project matures to fruition it will serve to additionally to grow food and add privacy from the public road for an outdoor living area off of the front of the house .

I also have no problems introducing species at this point , and in fact I think it is imperative we add biodiversity even with introduced species as our conventional forestry management has introduced so much cloned and GMO trees that I have concerns our forests have the genetic diversity to adapt to climate change and worry our biomass will decline at far greater rates due to that lack of genetic diversity and also I doubt diversity can naturally spread and adapt at the excalated rate of change we may experience due to our impacts and natural feedback processes set in motion.
 
Posts: 33
Location: SW KY--out in the sticks in zone 6.
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Mine is a bare bones work in progress at this point. There is a 80 yard section of wooded creek bed that was overgrown with honeysuckle when we moved here in 2000. 80% of the trees in that 5-20' strip of woods at the creeks edge were boxelder, dying back as the result of early strangulation with the vines. I cleared out most of the honeysuckle and a lot of chinese privet, leaving a couple mimosa(nitrogen fixers), several large wild black walnuts, a few very large tulip poplars, and a couple hackberry and mulberry in among the boxelders. I'm very slowly developing it by transplanting in wildlings that I find elsewhere in the yard (mulberries, elderberries, blackberries) and seedgrown desireables (Pawpaw, hawthorn, serviceberry, peashrub).

Tallest to smallest:

Tulip poplars--very large, produce large amounts of leaves (mulch), have teacup sized blooms that various local wild bee species love, and tremendous numbers of seeds that feed the grey and red squirrels (protein portion of the food forest ) Light strong wood, useful for various things if a tree comes down.
Mulberry--potentially huge--the biggest one I've ever seen (at least 60' tall, with a trunk diameter of over 5'!) is just a quarter mile from where I sit)--produces lots of berries for me and my hens, as well as the wild turkeys. I have one in fine shape, one with a lot of damage, and a bunch of small ones transplanted from the yard where wild birds dropped them. Berries in the higher branches draw birds whose droppings are decent as fertilizer.
Black walnut--large, very open canopy to let light down to smaller juglone tolerant plants, heavy crop of nuts to feed the family and the aforementioned flufftailed protein. The juglone makes planning/planting tricky, but wild elders, blackberries, mimosa, mulaberries and several others are already happily growing nearby.
Boxelders--medium sized short lived trees wth brittle wood. The wood is good for hugelkulture, though quite a few craftsmen use pieces twisted by honeysuckle to make interesting walking sticks. Said to be useful for sap to make syrup and edible seeds, though I have yet to try that. Mine are mostly dying back, so the wood is slowly rotting in place beneath the trees like tremendously large pieces of bark mulch.
Pawpaw--medium sized, pyramidal tree that naturally grows as an understory, juglone tolerant, with big tropical fruit. I bought seeds from a catalog, and have over a dozen young trees along the creek now. They ought to start flowering this year or next.
Hawthorne--large shrub/small tree, flowers for bees, fruit for me. Starting from seed this year.
Serviceberry--large shrub/small tree, flowers for bees, fruit for me. Starting from seed this year.
Elderberry--shrub, grows wild around here. small, shortlived perennial that resproutsand spreads readily from the roots. Flowers for the bees, and for wine according to Euell Gibbons; berries for wine and pies.
Peashrub--shrub, Nitrogen fixer, beans for me and for my chickens. Starting from seed this year.
Currant--native clove currant, growing some from cuttings, flowers for bees, fruit for me.
Blackberry--native, birds drop the seeds everywhere; I'm transplanting them from around the yard to patches along the creek. Love the berries, though so do rodents...and their hunters--I waded into one patch a couple years ago and smelled the 'wet goat' smell of a disturbed copperhead. I backed out slowly and let him have the patch for the rest of the season.
Wild Ginger--haven't tried this native groundcover yet--it grows wild and was used by the first settlers as a replacement for real ginger. There are a couple of small patches near the creek that I might ought to expand and try.

rivercane--the 5-6' variety around here grows in thick patches and takes over, but as I cut the patch here back I'm using the hollow sections to stick in tin cans to make homes for mason bees to hang around the property.
Honeysuckle--invasive foreign perennial that damages trees, I've been killing out as much of it as I can, though the birds start new patches by eating and pooping out the berries. Hummingbirds do love them though, and I think I could use them adn the river cane to make some short cone shaped trellises by teepeeing the stakes and using the pliable vines for weaving in and out.
Native Cedars--I have a long windbreak of these paralelling the creek--they serve as winter shelter/summer nesting sites for the wild birds. Some of these are 15' tall now, but I was thrilled when they were only 4-6' tall, as I found many praying mantis egg cases in them, rabbits ducking under them when I walked nearby, and even a baby bluebird puttering around amid them.
Rose of Sharon--these are a self seeding large shrub/small tree that a previous owner had planted along the other side of the creek. They've seeded themselves around the area over the past 20 years--they are very shade tolerant and draw bees quite well, so I'm leaving them for the time being although they do cast a LOT of seedlings. I suppose some of these could be potted up for plant swaps or sold, or just be decorative.
 
gardener
Posts: 592
Location: Equatorial tropics
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books forest garden
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Attached is an image of a two-year-old mini food forest I'm working on in South FL. About a dozen fruit trees, plus climbing yams, cassava, nutrient accumulators, etc. Everything grows fast down there.

The food forest at my house in N FL. is bigger (almost 3 years old) but I've had trouble getting good nitrogen fixers here. It also doesn't look that impressive right now since the frosts have knocked everything back. By mid-summer, it's rocking.

I actually wrote a simple article on food forests for Mother Earth News a week or so ago:

http://www.motherearthnews.com/grow-it/plant-a-food-forest.aspx



SFLFoodForest2013-3.jpg
[Thumbnail for SFLFoodForest2013-3.jpg]
South Florida Food Forest
 
pollinator
Posts: 363
Location: NW Pennsylvania Zone 5B bordering on Zone 6
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Cris,

I am basically in the same situation as you. I live with my "four legged" child in a urban style setting. I will be starting the transformation of my .42 acre lot this spring with food forest/permaculture techniques. Right now I am in a PDC course and I am working on a lot layout for my wish list design. I first drew up what was existing. I am now starting to sketch in hardscape elements and starting to plan for the seeds/plants that I have. In doing all of this, I have been doing a lot of research into layering along the edges to best minimize the wind, but still allow for frost to drain. I want to also use the various layers to develop microclimates in which not only natives survive, but in which I can start to push the zone limits for plants that can survive, so as to further encourage diversity with sytem stability as well. I am trying to take into consideration a lot of things and trying not to get overwhelmed in the process. Nitrogen fixing, edibility, supporting pollinators, attracting birds/insects, root structure, medicinal/herbal use possiblities, potential guilds, other uses, and the list goes on. I know that the system will be pretty labor intensive intially, but I do need it to develop into a system that will become quite self sustaining. Being a one woman show for the care of the lot garden/forest who also works full time, I don't want to have a system that will overwhelm me and deter me from continuing the process. My thought is to start at the edges, build the layers there, learn from them and work my way in. As I work in, the enviroment should become more and more favorable for experimentation and support of the many plants that I hope to someday grow. Initially, as I develop the edge areas, I also want to plant wild areas in wildflowers and the likes to not only start to attract bird, pollinators and other beneficial insects, but they should help to start to break up the soil, add biomass, some will be edible, herbal and medicinal and they will also be beautiful, hopefully interesting and appeasing my neighbors to be open to the process that my lot will be going through in the coming years.

All in all, I am really looking forward to moving from the planning stage into starting to execute. Mistakes will be made, I am sure, but they will be lessons in what works in my system and what doesn't. Hopefully the system will become a major source of edibles and the like for not only myself, but my family, neighbors and friends. Hopefully it will open up doors so that people ask questions and have it become an inspiration for others of what they can do.

Best of luck to everyone with their food forest paradises. I look forward to seeing how everyone's systems develop and learn from those that have forged ahead of me.

Jen
 
Posts: 288
Location: Deepwater northern New South wales Australia
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Nick Garbarino wrote:I'm curious to know if anyone is seeing self fertilization. If so, how is it being accomplished and how do you know it is happening.


google new england permaculture leafs maulching the wood!
 
pollinator
Posts: 4437
Location: North Central Michigan
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some of my beds are self fertilizing, as they have been established for many years..most still are too young though.

I have some beds around my house that have been self fertilizing for about 7 or 8 years includiing the beds with the pears, peaches, sweet cherries and strawberries in them. I have some that are reaching self fertilizing level about now, that is another area with cherries and hazelnuts. Also the walnut food forest areas are pretty much self fertilizing as they are on the edges of the woods so they are getting blown in leaves and debris from the woods itself.

I have a lot of new baby trees that I've mulched with wood chips or bark chips, they still do require some care and then I have been putting in even newer smaller baby trees the past year or two and they require a lot of care yet..

my more established beds though have been self fertilizing now for about 8 years (since our housefire nearly 12 years ago we had to re do all of our beds)
 
Posts: 16
Location: Melbourne, FL
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Forest gardening has been the holy grail since my '93 permaculture initiation. But what I have on my 2 suburban acres (0.8 ha) is a dense mixed orchard of useful subtropical plants. To grow quick height and to partially close the canopy, I have purposely over-planted the faster growing species like mulberry, papaya, banana, avocado, moringa, pigeon pea, chaya, muntinga, mango, bamboo, longan and passion vine. Notice that these are animal fodder as well. Rabbits are the only micro livestock (caged) in the orchard. I will soon need hogs and chickens to eat the surplus, but I haven't made the commitment.

Shade tolerant species are being added too: carambola, monsteria deliciousa, annonas, and a host of smaller plants and shrubs that need micro climates to thrive. (East central FL gets occasional hard freezes and high winds.)

I still use a small lawn mower to get between the closely spaced trees and to keep the paths clear. I hand prune wedelia, Spanish needle, betony and other rabbit snacks to supplement their purchased feed (which I regard as 50 pound bags of future fertilizer). I suspect that this dense orchard will always need to be intensively managed.

It's a passionate hobby that is becoming a livelihood.
 
Posts: 4
Location: Kenya
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Started my food forest less than 2 years ago. I started with fruit, nut, medicine, indigenous, nitro-fixing trees and random herbs and left them growing while I went off to learn more. My goal is to have a totally self sustaining system little forest (it’s about ¼ an acre) that I can live off entirely.
Then I did swales and a water catchment pond. Did some sheet mulching on the areas that I would like to be herb and crop gardens and I'm mapping out where I want to build structures. Trying to decide between pit latrine system and composting toilet.
Haven't finished tree planting, so I'm planning out guilds so that I don’t only have fruits to eat...having problems thinking up perennial veg/ legume type plants to incorporate into guilds. So far, only got pigeon peas, asparagus and wild indigenous greens. Researching into edible flowers. Not having much luck with grains here except maybe oats.
Have done boundaries and fencing with nettle, leucanea, moringa, acacias, comfrey and other nitro fixers to use for fertilizing.
 
Posts: 5
Location: Seattle, Washington
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So, here's my question - who is trying to achieve a real food forest, or already has achieved one that has "popped"? I'd like to start a list. Perhaps it would be good to start a new category on this forum entitled "food forest".



I have built a 7 layer food forest before and I'm about to start another one. Here's a post explaining more.

http://www.permies.com/t/54531/forest-garden/Starting-food-forest-Snohomish-Washington#449910
 
Posts: 470
Location: Northern Maine, USA (zone 3b-4a)
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i moved in with my fiance 2 years. ago all she had on the property was mature redpines and norway spruces ringing her property and a big lawn. i started by establishing mushroom beds under the tress. then the next year i planted 2 hazelnuts. 2 autumn olives, 2 goumi berry. 3 blueberries , a 12' by 25ft. red raspberry patch, 2 aronia berries. 2 hardy kiwi, 2 serviceberry, 4 elderberry, 2 black currant, 2 black mulberry, 4 honeyberries, 4 ruhbarb and 3 seaberry. this year I'm adding 3 4'by12' raised beds made hugelkulture style w/ wood on the bottoms. , a fuji apple tree , 5 primocane thornless blackberries and 9 ostrich ferns for fiddle heads in the spring. theres a acre of wet land next to mine that is too wet to use for anything structurely but theres some higher spots that are plantable. the owner gave me permission to clear and plant on it.. gonna dig more ostrich ferns and plant them there for fiddleheads in the spring. also going to take cuttings of my more water tolerant berries and plant them all over in there. not really permaculture but this is a work in progress the last couple years. hopefully most my berries will produce this year. i just purchased a used mahindra compact tractor with a dump so now i can go up the road and get as much horse manure compost i want from my neighbor. should fit my soil needs nicely. gonna mix piles of manure with hardwood chips/ sawdust from the mill down the road that loads me for free. won't have to buy soil again! skys the limit! wish i had someone who would be interested in this too. my fiances a indoor person not interested in gardening at all. so its all me. but I'm having a blast, like a kid in a candy store!
 
gardener
Posts: 1028
Location: Northern Italy
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So, here's my question - who is trying to achieve a real food forest, or already has achieved one that has "popped"? I'd like to start a list. Perhaps it would be good to start a new category on this forum entitled "food forest".



I think if I had a food forest which had "popped", I wouldn't tell ANYONE. Especially someone making a list.
but that's just me. I live in a place where people steal anything that grows or can be eaten (or has a motor).

My long term plan is to "kill them with kindness", having such bountiful production at different times of the year that theft, even if it happens, isn't really a problem. Right now that's not happening so I just get angry when people steal our shit.
William
 
Posts: 32
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i dont let myself get hung up on labels.
i am growing dozens of fruit trees, dozens of herbs, roots crops and flowering plants.
i am still pretty much in the early phases, i only started on it 3 years ago
and the first year was a 1/2 hearted attempt.
I just gfot 3 yards of soil in, and ordered a few 3 gallon plants.

at some point i want to be able to not see any grass.
i know i can sheet mulch it all now, but its a lot of work
and i have no help.
i have salvaged 2x4 and other wood and materials as walkways and borders
i have several groundcovers growing, and chop + drop a lot of my mulch
i even got a used wood-chipper (i need to fix) and a dead tree ready to go.

I am also experimenting with border/zone pushing.
i am in New Orleans (zone 9) and growing mango, papaya, guava etc...
THere are a lot of people in California and Fla that push zones, and grow sub-tropicals
but none in New Orleans
So i know i will have losses.
We just had the coldest day of the last 10 years a few weeks ago
and i lost a few mango, black sapote, neem, eggfruit and others.
but i am not detterred.
several plants came through. Even a Baobob in a container.

i have LOTS of mustard, gynura and other small plants that grow fast
and i also often use as mulch.

i dont ever seeing it as totally hands off
even in 20 years when the mulberry, babob, longan, Inga, white sapote
and other trees are 50ft tall or more, and shade the whole system
i would still want to prune them, and prune shade-tollerant plants under them.

Call it a food forest, permaculture, or just a backyard with a lot of plants
i dont really care.
it is what it is...




 
steve bossie
Posts: 470
Location: Northern Maine, USA (zone 3b-4a)
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want my front lawn to look like that in a few more years! got 20 berry, 2 hazelnut and 3 apple trees on a half acre. most are in they're 2-5 yr. getting harder to mow around them . I'm like you. i hate to waste good land growing grass!  can't wait till' i don't have to anymore!
 
pollinator
Posts: 1080
Location: Los Angeles, CA
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books chicken food preservation forest garden hugelkultur urban
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We've lived in our place here in Los Angeles county for almost 17 years now, so our orchard/integrated food forest is quite mature.  I never set out to have what I have now, and only discovered permaculture 6 years ago, but it is tremendously satisfying to see how far its come, and it's tremendously productive—we can't eat even half of what we grow.  We've got about 50 producing trees right now.


Almond
All-In-One
Garden Prince

Apple
Anna (2 of them)
Dorsett Golden
Fuji
Gala
Pink Lady (Cripps Pink)

Apricot
Royal Blenheim

Aprium Interspecific
Cot-N-Candy White
Flavor Delight

Asian Pear
Hosui
Shinseiki (2 of them)
20th Century (2 of them)

Avocado
Fuerte
Haas (2 of them)

Cherimoya
Unknown variety

Cherry
Minnie Royal
Royal Lee  

Figs
Black Mission
Brown Turkey
Janice Seedless Kadota

Pineapple Guava

Lemon
Eureka
Improved Meyer

Lime
Bearss
Key (Mexican)

Mandarin Orange
Gold Nugget (semi-dwarf)
Satsuma

Mango
Manilla

Nectarine
Arctic Star - white
Double Delight -yellow  

Nectaplum Interspecific
Spice Zee

Orange
Moro Blood
Valencia
Washington Naval

Peach
Eva’s Pride - yellow
Mid Pride  
Red Baron
Babcock

Persimmon
Fuyu (Jiro)

Plum
Methley
Santa Rosa

Pluot
Flavor King
Flavor Grenade  
Dapple Dandy

Pomegranate
Wonderful


We grow a bunch of different cane berries, goji berries, and such.

Perennial greens and veggies include artichokes, chaya and moringa.  We've got a tree kale that just doesn't want to die—we've been eating off it for 3 years.

We've got bees that have sex with all the trees and give us lots of honey every spring. I sit and watch them.  They are my friends.  The chickens clean up whatever falls to the ground, giving us eggs and occasionally we'll raise a batch of meat birds.  As I've gotten older, its easier to buy a 10 lb. bag of chicken breasts at Costco than it is to butcher all those birds.

We growing annual veggies 12 months of the year (all the usual garden suspects)—right now in the winter, all our salad greens, lots of cabbage for making kraut, sugar snaps, kale, carrots, beets, herbs, onions . . . and in the summer, about 40 different hot weather veggies.  I'm known among friends and family for chilis—about 20 different varieties of peppers growing out there year round.

Our herbs just keep going and going and going—all the usual suspects, and a bay laurel tree.

We incorporate thousands of pounds of wood chips throughout, and that keeps water bills much much lower.  This past year, I've been working on rain catchment tanks and a grey water system, which has eliminated about 95% of our watering this winter (almost 4 months of nothing but rainwater, which is significant in Southern California).  I was doing Back to Eden a decade before that movie came out, and I was surprised to see someone else doing what I'd been doing for so many years (only I took a lot of crap from "knowledgable" gardeners until they saw that their garden's couldn't possibly keep up with the productivity of our system).  Now I just refer people to that movie and they leave me alone.  They walk away with a bunch of produce—NOBODY leaves my house empty handed.

I haven't started my tiller in 11 years—if I knew how to do such a thing, I'd have sold it on Craigslist a long time ago.  All no-till, all the time.

Just when you think there is no more place to plant another tree, you find a little spot where the sun is hitting the ground and being wasted—plop—in goes a dwarf almond.

I bring two 5 lb. bags of coffee grounds home from work 3 to 5 times a week.  We compost everything possible except our own poop (I don't think I'll ever be that hardcore).  I do, however, pee outside 90% of the time.  We are doing our part to capture carbon on a massive scale.  Speaking of which, our cover crop system produces tons of biomass and fixes nitrogen for the trees in the orchard.


Yeah --- I've grown a food forest.  It's one of the best things I've accomplished in the last 15 years.




 
steve bossie
Posts: 470
Location: Northern Maine, USA (zone 3b-4a)
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yeah mine will look like that pretty soon. have 4 apples , 2 man. apricots, 4 hazelnuts, 4 elderberry. 4 honeybery, 3 blueberry, 2 mulberry, strawberries, 3 types raspberries, aroniaberries, black currants, goumi berries, goji berries, juneberry , autumnberry, seabuckthorn  and rhubarb. the juneberry , mulberry, seabuckthorn, autumn berry, apples, hazelnuts and apricots  can get over 20ft. tall. just ordered some hardy blackberries and 2 new raspberry cultivars to add to the jungle!
 
Brad Mayeux
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Marco Banks wrote:

 We've got about 50 producing trees right now.

We grow a bunch of different cane berries, goji berries, and such.


I do, however, pee outside 90% of the time.  We are doing our part to capture carbon on a massive scale.  
Speaking of which, our cover crop system produces tons of biomass and fixes nitrogen for the trees in the orchard.



thats pretty hardcore.
i collect urine also most of the time.
i just knocked down a banana. it had produced fruit and pups
thats a lot of biomass.
My Muntingia Calabura died back to the trunk in the cold
more biomass...

i am in a suburban lot, so sunlight is a premium
i have several rental properties i plan on putting extra plants
( i have like 10 guava 2ft tall in pots) - larger trees +nuts like Tamarind.

I have a few Eleaegnus and Honey locust for nitrogen.
i plant beans here and there too.

i am in touch with a guy in Brazil that gets me seeds of rare species
most in the Myratecea family, similar to Jaboticaba.
Eugenia brasiliensis (and several others) Hexachlamys etc...
most have some cold tolerance since Southern Brazil gets a light frost here and there.
it may be 3-5 yrs before i get fruit, even 8 yrs for some species
But thats OK for me.
im 54 but plan on eating fruit till i am at least 75

I am hoping to find the right species and push the city to plant them in parks and even roadsides.

Jaboticaba would be great, but its a slow grower
might work in certain situations.

How cool would that be ?

i have 4 types of Jaboticaba. the larger one has been producing fruit over a year
in 2-3 years i should be getting a hundred +

But i found even very small plants can be valuable.
i have several ground cherries and cape-gooseberry
visitors go nuts over them
they are about 1 ft tall.
i just spent the morning transplanting 25 seedlings all over the property.
and another 25 cherry tomato that re-seeds itself easily.

I wish i had more room. Maybe one day i will make use of the roof
groundcherry and tomato would probably work well.

Jaboticaba - excellent taste !!!
i cant wait till my 4 are this large.

Jaboticaba_004.jpg
[Thumbnail for Jaboticaba_004.jpg]
 
Marco Banks
pollinator
Posts: 1080
Location: Los Angeles, CA
183
books chicken food preservation forest garden hugelkultur urban
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Brad Mayeux wrote:

Jaboticaba - excellent taste !!!
i cant wait till my 4 are this large.



I've looked at Jaboticaba and wondered if I should grow one.  I'd have to find space somewhere.  I'm hoping to buy my neighbors house when she eventually moves out (she's in her 80's)—its a massive back yard (for Los Angeles standards) with all sorts of possibilities.  Jaboticaba certainly are a funky looking tree.

Right now my problem isn't having enough fruit—we give away hundreds of pounds of fruit a year and my stone fruit trees (and apples and pears) are still in their adolescence.  But the chickens clean up the tree fall and there's always the compost micro-herd to feed.  Do the little Jaboticaba berries (is that the right term?) fall off the tree when they're over-ripe?  Do birds eat them?

What I'd like to add to my system is more grains to feed the chickens.  Right now I grow white oats as one of the plants in my winter cover crop mix.  The girls go crazy for them when I chop and drop the winter cover crop, but I'd like to investigate another grain crop to feed them inexpensively.  Milo?  Good old fashioned corn?  I've never grown amaranth.  I plant sunflowers throughout the food forest and they are always a hit with the girls.  I'll just chop off a sunflower head and toss the whole thing into the chicken tractor.  They polish it off in minutes.

For those whose experience with a food forest is this passively managed thing where you only have to work for a couple of hours a week (as Mollison seemed to promise), that is far from my experience.  I need to be out there all the time.  There is always something to plant (annual veggies).  Always something to harvest.  Always something to be pulled out and composted.  There's always the compost pile to turn and volunteers and weeds that need to be pulled.  Perhaps mine isn't a true food forest in that regard.  That's why I call it an integrated orchard or integrated food forest.  Yes, a watermelon may come up volunteer from time to time, but if I want to enjoy them, I have to take the initiative to plant them, make sure they are getting adequate water, and they don't harvest themselves.

The hand aches and the brow sweats, as Wendell Barry once wrote in one of his poems.  

It certainly feels "foresty" in so many respects.  The birds, the cool air, the abundant bio-mass that accumulates beneath, and the amazing fertility that seems to grow year after year.  Yet I continue to haul in wheel barrow after wheel barrow of wood chips to replenish those that decompose.  Slugs and snails are an ongoing battle.  Cabbages don't plant themselves.  Corn must be picked (not a day too late, or it loses its magic).  Fruit trees need to be thinned if you want decent sized fruit (people will always exclaim, "How do you get your pomegranates so big?"  Thin them aggressively in the spring.)  If you want it to look beautiful and to be productive, I know no other way than to be attentive.  

And I wouldn't have it any other way.  I cherish those hours in my food forest.  I talk to the trees and they offer rest and perspective back.  
 
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I feel the same way you do, Marco.

I guess some people would call it work.

I call it forest bathing, or nature meditation time.

I'm often tying a limb to create a better tree shape, mulching, pruning, or just observing.

Eating weeds and letting vegies go feral will hugely decrease your required work time.  That is the majority of my veggies.

It's a big part of my retirement plan.

I feel like I'm going back through millions of years of human-ish history every time I wander out there.

When it's warmer my doggie can be out with me, chasing off the squirrels.

I think it's good for her too.
John S
PDX OR
 
Brad Mayeux
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Marco Banks wrote:



 But the chickens clean up the tree fall and there's always the compost micro-herd to feed.
Do the little Jaboticaba berries (is that the right term?) fall off the tree when they're over-ripe?  Do birds eat them?



Never heard them clled berries, just fruit.
honestly, i dont know if they fall, or rot on the tree. ?

that tree in the pic is many years old.
they grow pretty slow and fruit slower.

the fruit is very much in demand, and very tasty
i can ever see me letting even 1 Jabo fruit go to waste.
the sell for a good price online too.

I would think mulberry would be great for the chicks.
supposedly it makes the eggs better, and is very very healthy for them
as it is for us also.
pretty sure even the leaves are good for chicks
ive had them in salads. very young ones arent bad. not the best green, but adding 3 or 4 leaves to a salad or tea
is supposedly very healthy.

they grow so fast, i often use them as mulch, especially leaves in the fall.

-----------

Marco Banks wrote:
For those whose experience with a food forest is this passively managed thing where you only have to work for a couple of hours a week (as Mollison seemed to promise), that is far from my experience.  I need to be out there all the time.  There is always something to plant (annual veggies).  Always something to harvest.  Always something to be pulled out and composted.  There's always the compost pile to turn and volunteers and weeds that need to be pulled.  Perhaps mine isn't a true food forest in that regard


And I wouldn't have it any other way.  I cherish those hours in my food forest.  I talk to the trees and they offer rest and perspective back.  



If you do what you like, you  never have to work.

yeah, i am in the yard all day (or maybe 1/2 the day) as well.
i am semi-retired, but i also plant on making a few bucks down the road
on selling seedlings, seeds, or ? who knows.

 
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This conversation is reminding me something I read once about how hobbyists used to be who the professionals would go to when they needed expert opinions. Because the professional was working for the pay check they didn't develop the depth of knowledge of the person who did it for the joy of the work. I had a conversation on similar lines at an SCA event where a participant was discussing being contacted by universities when they needed expert level information on medieval topics. Once again, the hobbyist was happy to take all the time and do all the work necessary because it was a labor they loved.

I love 'working' in my garden. Someday I'll actually be good at it. This takes hours of my time every week, every month, going on for years. It's easy to make the time when it's so pleasant to do.
 
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Speaking of food forests and experts looking to those with less institutionalized authority-

scientists 'discovered' the largest food forest in the world
 
See where your hand is? Not there. It's next to this tiny ad:
Food Forest Card Game - Game Forum
https://permies.com/t/61704/Food-Forest-Card-Game-Game
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