Sunday, March 31, 2013

Paw Paw Tree and the Seven Layer Forest

It was exciting to finally install the last of our "upper tree" level of the garden. The Paw Paw tree arrived on Friday, along with blueberries (that are still in the house), 5 grapevines of different varieties and a new Meyer Lemon to replace the one we had indoors that didn't make it.

In the Food Forest idea of setting up an area, there are seven layers:

1.  Canopy layer consisting of the original mature fruit trees.
2.  Low-tree layer of smaller nut and fruit trees on dwarfing root stocks
3.  Shrub layer of fruit bushes such as current and berries
4.  Herbaceous layers of perennial vegetables and herbs
5.  Ground cover layer of edible plants that spread horizontally
6.  Rhizosphere or underground dimension of plants grown for their roots and tubers
7.  Vertical layer of vines and climbers

For our little yard attempt at this: we have a very large, old Maple in the neighbors yard.
The low tree level has 4 different apples, 3 pears, hazelnut, almond, 
The shrub layer has Goumi, Jostaberry, Pink Grapefruit current, Red Current.
Herbaceous layer of perennial vegetables and herbs: herb spiral with culinary herbs, Sea Kale, Nasturtium, Arugula, Horseradish, etc.
The Ground cover layer includes peas (planted today) for fixing nitrogen, Comfrey, and we are still working on this layer.
The Roots or tubers, we have mainly Sunchokes and are looking at more of these.
The Vertical layer of vines: we have Hardy Kiwi, Concord Grapes, and 3 other variety of grapes to install.

We also have 8 annual vegetable beds - three of which we planted today with peas to fix nitrogen for the tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, and other annuals that will be growing in the beds.

My planning, right now, is for more culinary herbs, medicinal herbs, as well as pots of flowers throughout the yard and in the driveway to make use of that space. Ideally, I would like to take up the asphalt and install gravel with room for more garden beds that are not permanent.

The first explanation I ever saw about Food Forests was with Geoff Lawton from Permaculture Institute in Australia . He has helped me to see and understand that nature will work if we set up the right conditions for growth. 

The first day of having my hands in the soil again, and it all comes rushing back - winter is over and we are eating the last of our canned vegetables, and the cycle begins again. I have so much to learn, and in the garden, every day teaches me.
The corner of the yard - empty and waiting for a tree

Paw Paw Tree planted - it doesn't look like much now,
but it will be 20 feet tall x 10 feet wide (dwarf)

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