I follow a blog by a new but wonderful blogger who lives pretty locally to me, Lynda from Living in the Land of Oz. She’s pretty new to the blogosphere (like I’m such old news myself 😉 ) so please pop over and check her out. I’ve learned some very important things from Lynda. We’ve chatted on the phone, shared laughs, shared information and contacts and more. Her most recent blog post however is about another great eco film about a woman turning her traditional Devon farm, run using fossil fuels and traditional farming methods, handed down over thousands of years (although more recently mechanised) into a farm that can and will be sustainably run once the pending peak oil crisis hits us. The education I received in that one short hour! The mind blowing information, revelations and honest home truths left me absolutely floored! And VERY inspired. Inspired enough to raid the kids art drawer, pull out the textas (marker pens) and paper and get designing. Well, drawing more like. I’m not much for design to tell the honest truth. lol The most frightening comment made in the film though is the belief that the critical year for this crisis is 2013. It fits with what i believe, that’s for sure.
Anyway, long story short, I had planned to plant an orchard out the eastern side of our house where there is currently a stand of silver Poplar
trees weeds and this had evolved into a hugelkultur inspired orchard but has been upgraded to the gold standard now. 😀 The plan is to chop out the trees weeds, remove the debris (there are rows upon rows of roofing tiles in there, all brittle and useless though I think) and grass weeds (I might just put down cardboard mulch), poison out the tree stumps (if only there was another affordable and practical option but truly there really isn’t 😦 ) then put the logs back in, cover them with a high nitrogen source (hoping to follow up some friends with horses) and cover the lot with soil. I’m debating on poplar tree borders and mulched poplars to fill the area but that will result in higher carbon output from the trees and hence a higher nitrogen content must be added – more horse poo or fresh mown grass etc – but that is highly dependent on being able to beg, borrow or steal an industrial mulcher like council workers and tree loppers use. Anyone have access 😉 We also need to channel a lot of standing water from our front garden that accumulates on our thick clay soil in depressions in our oh-so-even front lawn over winter. 😉 Rather than dig swales which are basically shallow channels like the ones that run down the middle of freeway verges, a time consuming and energy consuming practice, we’re planning on low but (hopefully) effective channeling hugelkultur beds which will also help absorb and use that excess water. 🙂 I figure we may almost end up with seasonal creek beds running across the garden, all of which we can channel into the creek that dissects our block. I also need to put paths through the beds to allow access to plant and harvest the trees.
Now however, with this heading to being a forest garden I have at least 28 tabs open in Chrome to look up cultivars of trees, to assess the qualities of the plants I plan to have in the forest garden and their compatibility with our soil, climate and each other as well as their safety (as much as my kids love rhubarb I am anxious about planting it as I am not sure whether the leaves being highly poisonous is too much of a risk to take) and growing properties. I mean, does it matter if the garden ends up with an under-carpet of mint if that mint is drawing up nutrients that will aide all the other plants? This is what I am ready to research this morning as I sit here typing by candle light. 🙂
Forest gardens are layered forests of edible or beneficial to edible plants, set out similar to how a real forest is. Large trees, an under canopy, large shrubs then smaller ones, climbers using the taller trees to haul themselves up and ground covers that suppress weeds, protect roots and help trap moisture. There are plants that fix nitrogen with their roots (legumes), plants that draw nutrients up from the deep (comfrey), trees with deep roots that draw water (as do the poplar trees and it’s probably why they were planted in the first place) and also trees that flower, drawing the pollinators. If you want to know more, check out here, here, here and here or ask Dr Google. There is heaps of information out there. 🙂
So Lynda, I just want to thank you so very much for your post. You have focused my direction, guided, educated and inspired me incredibly. From the bottom of my stomach (it IS a food forest after all) I thank you. 🙂