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Planting Food Forests Over Multiple Years  RSS feed

 
pollinator
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Location: Idaho USA
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What are the advantages and disadvantages of planting food forest layers over multiple years rather than all layers at once?
 
pollinator
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Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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Hi Greg! My own development of a food forest has been in progress for 15 years. And I'm still adding, modifying, expanding. Personally, I prefer the slow approach. I gives me a chance to see what works, or doesn't. I can modify things to my liking. Discover which things I will actually eat and which I don't. Discover what I would like to add more of. I can expand into areas that I've learned I don't wish to use for other purposes.

Another big, big reason for the slow approach is that I prefer to do things myself and by low tech methods. Rather than use a bulldozer, backhoe, or hydraulic hammer, I use hand tools and small power equipment. Thus I don't disturb the land as much and I intimately get to know each plot that I plant. I create a real attachment to each tree or section of plants. I like the mental connection.

I can appreciate the need most people have for instant success, instant production. I've seen it in my gardening students. I lived that sort of life in my younger days. But I've left the desire, drive, and stress behind. My own contentment comes from the slow, intimate hands on approach......not the "it's completed!" goal.
 
Greg Harness
pollinator
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Location: Idaho USA
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Thank you, Su. I have been thinking about labor effort and cost and opportunities to gain experience as advantages to going slow. Most of what I read encourages planting the whole forest at once. I wondered if I was missing something in the big picture. If it’s all about preference, I prefer slow and steady.
 
Posts: 23
Location: Ozark County, Missouri
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I can relate to The slow method. My partner and I are establishing a food forest on our homestead and are happy to be taking it days (relatively). It's already proven Well worth the time Waiting, observing and focusing on chunks at a time.

"Rather than use a bulldozer, backhoe, or hydraulic hammer, I use hand tools and small power equipment.." 100% agree with this. Can't tell you how many Herbs and shrubs Ive found while I Had my feet on the ground. It's
Harder to find gems with heavy machinery.

I can also relate to the desire to "get it established" quickly, but also appreciate the feedback through watching what works and doesn't. This year's drought has taught me a lot! Plenty more goumis and Asian pears to plant after seeing their success.
 
wren haffner
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Location: Ozark County, Missouri
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Also, the slower method allows for the more resilient (and cheaper) option of propagating plants from your plantings. We're already happy to see our nodding onions and comfrey exploding in numbers in a short time. Took quince rootstock cutting this year so we can get more Asian pears planted on the cheap, and when we're ready.
 
gardener
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Slow gives you time to think about your plan and if it really will be the best layout for you in the long term.
Slow allows you to take advantage of lower prices at sale times without breaking the bank.
Like Su Ba brought up, slow also allows you to make corrections that you found out after a period of time.

For those who really need a shot of instant gratification I always recommend raised garden beds with those you can grow food now, if the placement turns out not so great, you can move it at the end of the growing season.

Food forest (from my experiences with them) are geared towards the slow and steady approach, since you are layering, you put in the tall stuff first and work forward from there, by the time you are at the front, the tall stuff is producing for you.

Slow gives you time to sit in the dirt and get to know mother nature better.
 
pollinator
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Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
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Greg Harness wrote:What are the advantages and disadvantages of planting food forest layers over multiple years rather than all layers at once?



I like to investigate reverse solutions! ...so why not plant all at once? Why not, if you can do it? Why refrain? If you believe in your plan, if you have the money, the seeds etc.... well money and seeds both end up rotting in their respecting form of bank!!!

Joke above appart, I think we go slow because we are afraid ...of having to kill. Yep! Who here loves cutting a tree? I would ponder this and my relationship to death, killing, mourning.... and what teaches nature? Composting and cutting are fine! Plants are all too happy to sacrifice for the good of other beings, especially their own species. Look at all the seedlings after a rain, and how many of those weeds are there when they are big? The few left are fed by the soil and also the ones that did not make it. We are just not very fond of this, as humans full of projection. We really hate to sacrifice what we planted. I am not sure plants hate it....

Now my idea is to plant trees ...for cutting. They make a lot of organic matter, and they also put organic matter at no effort costs, just by growing roots deep down there! Cut the trees, leave the roots: organic matter is self-burried with no digging. My logic is for example at my place to grow tagasaste and pigeon peas.

 
Author
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Location: Herefordshire, England, UK
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Starting slow allows you to make mistakes on the small scale, learn from them and not make them again as you expand. You'll learn a lot about plant biology, propagation and combinations by observing your initial patches.
If you introduce a plant that becomes a problem for some reason - maybe something that turns out to be invasive in your conditions - you can stop it in its tracks before it gets out of hand. And you can avoid planting masses of a crop that you find out you don't like.
Another advantage is that every small forest garden patch becomes a nursery for the next phase, so you will almost certainly save money.
I have seen quite a few places that were started ambitiously grand scale, where the owners became overwhelmed with the scale of the maintenance task and ended up abandoning all or most of the planting. If you start small you may decide after a couple of years that you have as much as you can take on for the time being.
 
Xisca Nicolas
pollinator
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Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
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Tomas Remiarz wrote: - maybe something that turns out to be invasive in your conditions -
save money.
overwhelmed with the scale of the maintenance task 


I like those 3 points!

checking for possible invasion in important for saving time money and efforts. I am not very happy with my foetidisima cucurb for example... the texas watermelon with a root less edible than it was supposed to be, and seeds that they do not say enough that they are really small though edible! On the reverse I was warned about kudzu up to "please, do not plant this!", and not only it was not invasive here but i lost it!

Save money....
Appart if you buy the seedlings or expensive seeds, I do not see much risk in sowing a lot of seeds and see what comes out and get some organic matter if you cut?

and last the wisest!
We need to plant what needs the least maintenance, or plan animals for pruning etc. Most garden beds with annuals are what needs most maintenance, or there is something I do not see? Maybe also considere how to not have to prune? It seems that the more we prune, the more we will have to prune afterwards!

So I would say that this is not only about the scale, but the choice of species and the general design for a reasonable maintenance. Maybe this topic is ot talked enough... Maybe because it depends more on specific personal criterii than general ones that can be implemented in all cases?
 
Posts: 27
Location: Cape Town
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If I were to start over again, I would take the nitrogen-fixing trees first and plant them in very expensive holes. I would surround them with chop and drop shrubs and take a year to see them well established. In the meantime I would be building compost heaps or digging sunken hugels where I wanted the other trees to come, observing all the while: the wind, the sun, the shade, the water - and the indigenous plants which somehow survived and that often hold the key to successful ecosystems. I rushed too much in the beginning, trying to do too much from a finished design on paper. Now my land teaches me how to farm: the stuff that is happy self seeds and what requires cosseting has died long ago. There are a range of inbetween plants that survive with some care, but mostly what thrives is where I have created functioning guilds through much trial and error.

The single most expensive item in thirteen years of farming has been building my own capacity - paying for my mistakes and learning from them. Still today, the more I farm the more I notice that what my land needs most is my attention. It is easy to sit at the dinnertable and dream. It is hard work to provide the aftercare needed and I have learnt not to plant beyond my capacity to maintain.  So giving yourself time is the greatest gift you can give to yourself and the land. Don't waste it. 
 
Xisca Nicolas
pollinator
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Ho yes I love natasha's answer!

In between doing too much and not enough, I think there is a middle place. Maybe we confuse "slow" with doing nothing at the beginning and wait? i think "slow" has to do with doing things in the right order, and about not loosing time for things that cost or are lost with no gain. BUT, if you do nothing and wait, you will learn nothing! If you sow and things die or live according to the places, then you LEARN something.

The best is when we learn from mistakes that did not cost too much.... I think maybe the first step is to decide if we are going to use a machine or all by hand, because the machine can go only where you have not yet planted. Then I would observe where I have more soil or more stone, and the probability about what is under and cannot be seen. You want to know where the water goes, where things are taller and greener etc.

Making compost will never be a mistake so it is a good job.

Also, we do not speak enough of ROOTS as a source of self-burrying organic matter! I will make a topic just for this, so that the title can attract due attention on its own... I think we all agree about sowing legume seeds for nitrogen, but I think it is needed to investigate if something else can be useful as planting too. If I consider cajanus cajan for example, I have read they should not be planted twice in the same place, about a pest in the roots. It was not precise but called my attention as I use it a lot.

So, what I would not do though I have... is planting trees I want to grow and not cut, too soon. Cultivate a mass of organic matter, yes.
 
Eliminate 95% of the weeds in your lawn by mowing 3 inches or higher. Then plant tiny ads:
Food Forest Card Game - Game Forum
https://permies.com/t/61704/Food-Forest-Card-Game-Game
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