Friday, April 21, 2017

Food forest gardening

Slowly over the years trees get bigger and the garden becomes transformed. I find photos of when I had a lush lawn, when I first planted the olive trees and when the back garden was a herb garden. Now because the trees got so big, the lawn wouldn't grow and because I had more shade, the choices of what I could grow became restricted. At the same time I find that with the increased intensity of the sun these days, many plants seem happier in dappled shade.

I recently heard about food forest planting and realised my garden is now naturally ready for that - it has evolved. So with some judicious pruning I am hoping to have more plants under my trees that enjoy dappled shade and give me something to eat. I planted an almond in the veggie patch to give me dappled shade for lettuce. Although lettuce grows in the hot sun on vegetable farms, I feel the wind and sufficient water help them survive there better than in the more enclosed area I have, where due to the wall around it, the heat is intensified. We also have severe water restrictions so growing food becomes very challenging.

Part of my plan involves leaving plants in the ground even when they have died. My maize plants are dry and dead but I am hoping they will provide support for broad beans. I planted brinjals around dead bean plants and they are thriving. Leaving the roots in the ground keeps the ground healthy as the microrrhiza are not disturbed. I noticed after years of planting how the soil became powdery and am trying to get it vibrant and healthy again.
My Jerusalem artichokes can be left standing to provide support for peas. Also my Golden rod will support peas - in this way the summer plants will support the winter plants. The fruit trees, being deciduous will allow for winter planting of veg that needs full sun so potatoes will go in there. Also blue berries should do well.

I encourage you to google Food forest planting to be inspired for your own garden. So many people still have lawn and a couple of shrubs, where they could have a thriving food producing garden.