Prepping up our food forest for summer

With all the rain we received over the past few months, it would be a shame to loose all that precious moisture to the spring and summer heat. So now that our food forest is planted, it’s time for us to help it grow.

Catch and store energy

Lomandra living swale

Lomandra living swale

We mulched on the contour lines that we had pegged on the ground prior to commencing work, and that we had planted with lomandra, vetiver or lemongrass – lomandra on the top third of the slope, near the bush, vetiver in the exposed middle layer where moisture escapes and lemongrass at the bottom of the slope where moisture gathers.

The mulched contour lines act as a moisture and nutrients trap, allowing microorganisms to take shelter under and populate the area. It will also create slight wind movement (by lifting it) hence dissipating the effect of our valley’s ambient moisture that could create fungal problems on our young trees.

Overtime, the mulch will be absorbed into the soil and it will be necessary to add some more. Then, when the lomandra, vetiver and lemongrass have reached maturity, it won’t be necessary as we can chop n’ drop their foliage (more on that later).

Observe and interact

Vetiver living swale

Vetiver living swale

As the saying goes, there is always space in a permaculture garden for one more salad to be planted… same goes with a food forest. By observing the area now that all trees guilds are planted, we noticed some gaps, physical gaps as well as gaps in the type of plant that we have growing there.

We noticed we could fit in three more canopy species! And there was space for heaps more support species:

  • We transplanted home-grown cuttings of salvias to attract beneficial insects.
  • We scattered seeds of calendula, marigolds, alyssum, echinacea, and borage for their many benefits: splashes of colour, medicinal use, ground cover living mulch, bee fodder.
  • We transplanted many more rhizomes in the wet part of the slope to capture that precious moisture and hold it there: cardamom ginger, galangal, arrowroot. Their foliage can be used as chop n’ drop mulch.
  • We created four more living swales of lomandra, lemongrass, comfrey and arrowroot.
  • We dug in some Jerusalem Artichokes which once grown will provide a colourful edible windbreak and useful shade onto the chicken yard.
  • We’re growing seeds of perennial vegetable such as globe artichokes for their heat resistance and striking foliage.
  • We added two more natives (swamp banksia) at the bottom of the food forest where it is moist.
  • We planted a grape on a windy dry ridge as well as rosemary and lavender.

We’ve been busy!

The test now will be one of patience!

We’ve done the hard work – the planting is done, there is nothing else we can do apart from:

    • Excluding chooks and ducks from the area for at least one year, unless in a tractor cage.
    • Manually weeding the encroaching kikuyu grass around plantings.
    • Grazing the grass layer (our pastured rabbits are great for that).
    • Occasionally drenching those plantings with comfrey, nettle or manure tea.
    • Applying self regulation and accepting feedback: don’t plant any more things and take account of those plants that don’t make it!
    • Gathering recipes for preserves and jams!

See you at one of our courses to learn more about permaculture design and forest gardening.



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