Hi all, I'm brand new to permies.com. Just bought my first home and wanted to convert the front yard to a little 7 layer food garden. I have an enormous maple on the north side of the lot, giving me about a 22x15 foot plot to work with all south of the tree (part/full sun). Could I use the maple as my canopy layer? For the other layers, what would compliment the maple well? Is there a sample guild or has someone tried this with a maple? Many thanks. I'm new to this and was not sure where to turn for advice.
some expectation management first: I don't think you'll fit 7 layers into that space. For more detailed advice could you let us know where in the world you live? A couple of photos of the site from different angles would also help.
Latitude and climatic zone has a massive impact on the amount of layers you can fit on top of each other. In temperate and cool climates, you could probably fit three or at most four layers under a mature maple.
In a 22x15 ft space you could probably fit a small tree, 2 or 3 shrubs. That could still give you a lot of opportuntity for crop diversity in the herb layers.
Most fruittrees require a 18ft by 18ft space. So it sounds like you can barely fit in 1 tree.
But less say you did have enough space. I would recommend
Garlic, Mint, Garden Violet, Raspberry/Blackberry, Goumi, Aronia, Figs/Mulberry, Elderberry, Pear, Pawpaw, Maypop (grape might be a better vine)
Anything that is shade(leaf shadow) and also drought(root competition) tolerant should work just fine.
Thanks everyone for the advice. This is a great place for me to learn! I appreciate all the help I can get. Yes my yard is quite small. When we moved in there was a bed under the maple with some sedum, grasses, dusty miller, and bulbs. But the city ripped up the plants and half the yard for water main work. I definitely don't want lawn, but food. Thinking of annual beds but like the idea of perennial foods. I live in southwestern Ontario Canada.
In regards to fitting fruit trees into that space, and I've mentioned this before in several other postings mainly because it works, why not try to espalier fruit trees?
Google Image 'espalier' and you'll get the idea.
There's all sorts of designs that can maximise potential, and it will allow layering of both annuals and perennials.
Though, as others have said, that maple is likely to be a major impediment - any chance of it being considered a threat due to root disturbance (falling over in a storm) or otherwise mysteriously getting sick, prompting removal?
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