Planting a food forest: The plan

Moos on an old trunk

We have another big project besides the restoration of our house: planting a little food forest! We already found out that we theoretically could sustain our trees by rain water alone.

Why we want a food forest

In future we would love to live harmoniously with nature and not fight it. Ideally, we only go out and harvest – near zero maintenance.

A food forest is therefore ideal. Once it is well established it can survive on its own, even expand! In comparison to a conventional garden, we have another advantage: using the vertical growing space and therefore growing more food per acre.

The plan

First phase

Because it’s more economic and we have a wider range of choice, we are going to grow the trees mostly from seed. As we mentioned before, we have already ordered our seeds from rarepalmseeds.com.

The first months we grow the seedling in little seedling bags. Because we have thousands of seeds, this is going to be a numbers game. Many seeds won’t make it into seedlings and later on trees but that’s okay, it will still be a lot!

We will start out planting mostly hardy and drought tolerant species of the legume family. Many of which are Acacias but we also got Tipuana Tipu, Prosopis cineraria, Gleditsia triacanthos (also known as Honey Locust) and others.

Those trees are fast growing and have the ability to fix nitrogen in the ground. Because they are fast growing, they will establish a canopy quickly, providing shade in hot summers. Shade is what we really want, because the sun can quickly dry out the soils in the summer time.

During the colder months, when shade is not required, we will trim those trees and leave the cuttings on the ground as a green manure to further help establish good soil.

Second phase

During the next years then we will proceed and slowly replace many of the pioneer trees with fruit and nut trees. This effectively turns our pioneer forest into a food forest from which we plan to live off.

The list of trees we want to grow is still open for exploration but will certainly entail avocados, oranges, bananas, peaches, figs, walnuts, almonds, pistachios and so on.

The cuttings from the pioneer trees then will serve as food for the fruit and nut trees. They will also provide shade and wind shelter in the beginning until the newcomers are well established.

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