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Monday, October 28, 2013

Food Forest Layers

Food Forest Layers

We recently took a wonderful workshop with The Green Education Center in Orlandoto learn forest gardening, so we want to share some of the basics hoping to inspire you to build your own and share your journey doing so!

We have begun three of these gardens in our small yard.
The system of forest gardening is based on the observations of how the forest naturally grows, using this system gives you a sustainable food garden that does not need a lot of maintenance.

So to begin, you only need a small area of your yard.
Prepping the soil. 
One way is to use chickens to do the work.  (This is the method we used.)  You could place card board over the ground to be used and wait for it to break down, this will smother the other plant life that you do not wish to use.  The other way is manually using shovels to dig up all the plants. 
Depending on your current soil condition, you may want to add mushroom compost and an organic soil.
After the ground is prepped, you can begin adding the layers of your forest garden.
1.       The Underground Layer-used to grown root and tuber vegetables
2.       The Ground Cover Layer-edible plants that will spread horizontally
3.       The Herbaceous Layer-perennial vegetables and herbs
4.       The Shrub Layer-fruit bushes like currants and berries
5.       The Low Tree Layer-smaller dwarf fruit and or nut trees
6.       The Canopy Layer-mature fruit trees
7.       The Vertical Layer-edible vines and climbers 
Be sure to add at least one nitrogen fixing plant.  Lastly, add a green mulch to cover all of the soil in your garden. 

We also added a compost bucket that is buried in the garden with holes drilled into it.  The concept of this is that the worms will come in, eat the compost, fertilize the soil and come back for more food.
The system you create will work in harmony with nature and need much less tending.  Soon you will enjoy the fruits of little labor!