Monday, May 26, 2008

Robert Hart - Forest Gardening

I just watched a very exciting and encouraging video explaining and demonstrating the forest garden concept. I am totally blown away by this! I can't wait to get a piece of land now and start my own food forest.

It is actually fairly easy. Definitely does not take a degree in agriculture or millions of dollars and acres and acres of land.

So what is Forest Gardening?
I made some notes while watching a video about Robert Hart the creator of the forest garden concept. I downloaded off of pirate bay. You can get the torrent here.

Both informative and inspiring, this video features Robert Hart in his pioneering Shropshire garden, explaining the principles and practice of forest gardening; Ken Fern of Plants for a Future, who grows 1500 species of useful perennial plants on a windy plot in Cornwall; and Mike and Julia Guerra who have created a tiny garden behind their maisonette in Hertfordshire, using permaculture, forest gardening and organic principles. For as little as two hours work a week, they can supply produce for six months of the year.

Here is the definition from wikipedia: Forest Gardening.

The basic structure of a forest garden is as follows:

7 Levels of Plants in a Food Forest Ecosystems

Tall light demanding trees (canopy) pear tree
Short shade tolerant trees - lemonade tree,
Shrub level - currents / gooseberries, japanese wine berry
Herbaceous - apple mint, rosemary, basil
Crawlers - Strawberries,
Ryhzosphere roots layer - mashure small potatoe, potatoes
Vertical / climbers / creepers - nasturtian, runner bean, chinese
gooseberry (kiwi fruit)

A fully functioning food forest which is self-sustaining and produces food on an ongoing basis can be grown in under 4 years. It is relatively easy to create your own. Most of the work is in setting it up, but then it is self maintaining.

How to Do It

Plant an orchard of standard fruits trees at standard 20 feet intervals, then dwarf trees midway, bushes, currents and, herbs and perennial vegetables on the grownd.

Then the main work is cutting back on plants that encroach which
must be done everyday in the summer, and building soil fertility
throught mulching. The system will provide maximum output for minimum

Keep garden permanently mulched by covering soil in a layer of dried leaves, grass and garden waste. This builds up fertility and suppresses weeds. Provides ideal soil conditions for growing.

To produce really good compost woody plants are most useful, but they
need to be shredded.

Robert Hart's inspiration came from Toyohito Kagawa, the Japanese Mahatma Gandhi, who saw the link between conservation and food production.

One of the main aims of promoting fertility, releasing fertility using earthworms and food of the soil.

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