Tuesday, 23 February 2010

The Food Forest

Two years ago we planted Stage Two of our orchard. Stage One being a year older and around 20 fruit trees near the chook run. We've removed half of Stage One by transplanting the stunted trees to other areas. For some reason they many not thrive in that location...

Stage Two was planted in a disused paddock area
previously filled with long grass and bracken fern like this one

Stage Two began as over 50 food-producing trees planted on a west-facing slope with deep, rich soil and good drainage. It was planted in typical grid formation to allow for the tractor to go between the trees and slash the grass which grows lush and tall through most of the year. The trees have thrived - with many well over head height already, and our first samples of the fruit to come ripening with the changing seasons. They have had less care and attention than most of our other tree plantings - a little feeding, some mulch (removed by helpful free-range chickens), removal of shoots below the graft point as required and grass and weeds pushed back, hoed or cut only around three times each year. In the beginning I had to spray with eco pest oil for what may have been red mite, but as the trees grew larger, signs of disease vanished. I do hope that they stay away!

After recently watching a fabulous Food Forest DVD we lamented not planning and planting this way from the start, but vowed to alter the orchard to mimic a forest over the coming wet seasons.

This week, we have planted out around one third of the trees required to fill the space between the rows. Varieties added included mulberries, pigeon pea, malabar chestnut, mandarin, wampu, loquat, miracle fruit, sweet leaf, a few different tropical stonefruit, cumquat, albizia, ice-cream bean and more.

We grow some of our trees from cuttings and seeds, are gifted or buy some through our local community groups like Seed Savers and LETS, buy some at the markets and a few at local nurseries.

We have only a few macadamia seedlings remaining in our tree box, so it's time to plant seeds and source more trees for the food forest project. If you have a favourite type of tree, please leave a comment and let me know about it.

Here are the trees on the hillside. A lot of them are 2m tall now and the bamboo on the edge is several metres tall and 1.5 metres diameter.


Jamie said...

It all sounds lovely, Bel.

Annabel said...

Sounds awesome! I think my favorite type of tree would have to be a cherry tree. (Yum.)