Small Woodland Owners' Group

Forest garden

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Postby tracy » Tue Jun 01, 2010 2:01 pm

We are planning a forest garden in our garden at home... ie edible stuff that keeps growing and you don't have to replant. Anyone tried it?

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Postby Rich » Tue Jun 01, 2010 2:40 pm

Yes we did have great plans for a forest garden have a look at we went down to visit it last year, truly amazing what he has done in 15 years on a 3 acre site I think it is.

Anyway way we were going to gradually introduce fruiting trees into the coppice we cut closest to the cottage last year, already there's wild blackcurrants and strawberries there, but became a bit suspicious and very much less enthusiastic about the project when we discovered where the septic tank overflows to! Then I also read somewhere that you shouldn't introduce anything into a an ancient woodland. I spread a few wild garlic seeds around last winter, fortunately they didn't come up. I think the message was if it could be there it already would be. Very different if you are planting a new wood, and we've shifted our attention to the paddock now, I think the first thing to do is plant your wind breaks, Martin Crawford used Italian Alder, must be 30 or 40 feet now!

Still my abiding memory of visiting the project in Devon is that it's much less work than doing annual veggies, and in my book that's a good thing!


Richard Hare
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Postby tracy » Tue Jun 01, 2010 4:01 pm

Thanks, I will have a look. We are planning on doing this at home - so no worries about introducing things!

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Postby Henrietta » Fri Jun 04, 2010 8:09 pm

Hi Tracy, is that the same as a permaculture garden. I have been adding to mine for about twelve years now. We only have a small house on an estate, but the garden is a reasonable size. As we are blessed or damned,(whichever way you want to look at it) with the heaviest wielden clay, it is ideal for trees, which the garden does it's best to revert to. I have squashed several apple trees, including a Bramley,(in my book essential) and a John Downy crab apple, a morello cherry and a red currant,I never get a thing off either as the blackbirds strip them both, a quince, which is in the wrong place, as they apparently like a damp situation, a green gage, which has grown at tremendous speed, a wild damson and a little mirrabelle, neither of which have done anything yet, most likely because I grew both from stones and therefore don't have the smaller root stock. Oh, and a ztar plum. Apparently five fruit trees constitutes an orchard. I've also put in some hazel, if I can share some with the squirrels. I did get quite a few nuts a couple of years ago and decided to make some marzipan for the christmas cake, but it wasn't very nice to be honest, too oily.

Added to that we have currants, gooseberries, strawberrys which I finally replaced last year after they had produced so badly. I've also encouraged wild blackberries at the bottom of the garden. This year I saw a goji berry at a sale, a bit of a novelty.

Perrenial vegetables gets more tricky. Welsh onions are good. There is a spinach type plant called Daubentons kale, but like a lot of others, I haven't managed to find any yet. Herbs are an obvious choice. Other than that I put various things in pots, pushed in any where I can find the space. I have to say it is very crowded, and you sometimes have to be ruthless about cutting back, no good growing something if you can't get to it.

There is a very good Permaculture magazine, available from The sustainability Centre a East Meon.

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Postby Stephen1 » Fri Jun 04, 2010 9:22 pm

Have you seen Patrick Whitefield's book on Forest Gardens - it's very good.

We had a little 3/4acre forest garden, but since the second Little One came along it's been one of the things we've just not had time to maintain and it's tumbledown into being just an orchard.

Our experience was that they are wonderful but perhaps a little bit more work than some of the most enthusiastic advocates suggest to maintain even when established.

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Postby RichardKing » Sun Jun 06, 2010 2:03 pm

I just wanted to mention that composted sawdust from chainsaws is a great soil improver for heavy clay.

When fully composted it is a dark brown/black and resembles peat.

I have been getting large quantities from the farm next door who regard it as a waste product.

For the last five years I have been spreading a two inch thick mulch of it over the flower beds & vegetable patch. Over the course of the year the worms incorporate into the soil & it has resulted in a massive improvement in soil texture, drainage, fertility & organic content (not to forget carbon capture), and even weed reduction.

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