Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Space-saving Food Forest Ideas

Most of us tend to think of fruit trees as being needier than they are. Some trees warrant this preconception, sure… like commercially grown peach and apple trees.

Trees may also be needy because you’re trying to grow them in a location not ideally suited to their needs.

Yet if you’re growing something that works in your climate and making sure it gets plenty of compost and other good stuff, then you can take a deep breath and start thinking of new ways to increase production or save space.

If a gardener spends his time reading Ag extension guides to growing trees, he’ll start to think you need huge spaces between individual specimens in order to get production. Yet… forests don’t work that way. Trees are packed in here and there in a crazy quilt of life.

Yes, when you plant things close together you get less production per tree… yet you may get more production from the space as a whole.
Here’s a great video giving you one idea how this can be accomplished:

Now: imagine you planted comfrey around those trees… or onions and garlic… or sweet potatoes. Your production from the space has just jumped higher. Better yet, plant a row of trees this way and tuck in berry bushes and other perennials along the front and back of that row, with various herbs mixed in to repel pests and provide you with culinary delights (or even natural antibacterial bandages).

If you’re gardening in a small space you don’t have to give up on tree crops. You just need to do things differently.


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At January 8, 2014 at 9:04 PM , Anonymous Andi said...

He just cut 2/3 of that tree off! Does that really work?

At January 8, 2014 at 9:07 PM , Blogger David The Good said...

Yes it does, though not on all trees. When I visited the UF experimental research facility south of Gainesville, I was astounded by how they were growing peaches. They had cut the trunks off at only 18" from the ground, then let the trees cup their branches upwards from there, selecting a grouping of strong branches. You could harvest them without a ladder. Now this isn't necessarily the healthiest way to grow peach trees, but they sure as heck go nuts the next year after a brutal pruning.

At January 8, 2014 at 9:18 PM , Anonymous Andi said...

This gives me lots to think about... my peach trees took off last year, now they're already TOO TALL.


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