Plant an Edible Forest Garden

Plant an edible forest garden. Make your garden more productive by exploring forest gardening. You can learn how to mimic a natural forest, and create a productive fusion of garden, orchard and woodland.


| August/September 2007



A kill mulch has been laid down around these kaki persimmon trees.

A kill mulch has been laid down around these kaki persimmon trees.


Photo by Harvey Ussery

Make your garden more productive, plant an edible forest garden by learning how to mimic a natural forest in your landscape.

Plant an Edible Forest Garden

Are you feeling adventurous? Do you want to delve deeper into gardening? Even better, are you thinking of planting an orchard? If so, consider starting a forest garden. With a little planning, you can grow a productive forest garden, full of plants that work together in imitation of a natural forest.

I’m convinced that imitating natural systems is fundamental to any successful effort to raise food. The idea behind forest gardening is that natural forests produce an abundance of food. People the world over have harvested food from the forest, reaping where they did not sow. Forest gardeners imitate the forest’s natural structure to take advantage of this abundance, but they increase yields even further through careful planning and management. The result is a productive fusion of garden, orchard and woodland.

I’ve been exploring the idea of forest gardening for several years, and have recently begun to try it on my own homestead. But before looking at my forest gardening efforts, let’s consider in more detail how a forest garden works.

A Garden of Perennials

One of the main differences between a forest garden and the typical food garden is that forest gardens rely on perennials. Most vegetable gardens include mainly annuals — such as tomatoes, lettuce or radishes.

To understand the difference this makes, consider the role of annual plants in nature. Annuals colonize and cover disturbed ground, because theirs is a high-energy, in-a-hurry lifestyle. In a single season, an annual sprouts from seed, grows to maturity, ripens fruits and seeds, then dies.

max
12/7/2015 1:05:03 PM

Hi Rich, Have you planted any plants yet? If not, you could contact me and my brother for advice, we are two forest gardeners that live in mallorca, spain. If you want, you could contact us at chris.frolich@outlook.com Then we could advice you for plants to plant, where to start etc. We always like to help people interested in forest gardening :) Regards Max & Andres


rich
3/23/2014 4:52:12 AM

Hi I live in Cornwall, UK and I have a 2 acre woodland that we intend to start turning into a food forest. The problem is where do I start please? I have cleared the trees of rubbish that had grown up around it including fallen trees etc. now I want to start planting but what do I plant please? Thanks Rich






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