Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Food Forest’ Category

Design Your Beautiful Summer Garden!

Designing your garden is an intricate and intimate process depending on a lot of factors. It will ‘look’ like you as you are at the time of your life that you do it. If you plant from seed, it leads to making a pretty accurate seed list.

Some of your choices will be the same as what your family always did. Or, you may be a permaculture type doing a Food Forest guild system. There is no right way. You are you, your situation unique. You may be the same the rest of your life, only influenced by drought, deluge, seasons or climate change. You may be research oriented and enjoy trying out new plants and practices from across the world, allowing volunteers the birds bring to grow. You might decide to leave an untouched wild area in the name of freedom or magic, or rest a section of your garden each winter! Or plant it to green manure!

Choose a sunny place with easy access to water! Bioswales may be part of your water capture plan. In SoCal consider a centuries old technique, a water saving Waffle GardenGreywater distribution location may determine where fruit and nut trees will be planted. Then how will their mature shade affect the rest of your garden? Use dwarfs?

Garden Design Slope HillsideMake your garden a shape that flows with the area, whether that be simply the space available, or contoured to the land. Use slopes and hillsides! (Image by Arterra LLP Landscape Architects) Grow permeable windbreak shrubs to slow wind. If you don’t have outdoor space, but do have a sunny doorstep or balcony, put those containers to work!

Layouts can be any design you want! Circles with cross points, spokes, concentric, spiral! Squares like a formal British royal garden. Wild like a cottage garden or food forest garden guild. Beds in blocks. Straw bales wherever you can put them! Terraced on a slope! S curves along an existing path interspersed with ornamentals! Maybe you would like to add a greenhouse this year, or you need a shed and convenient workspace.

Put in pathways – straw bedding, boards, gravel, pallets, as suits the spirit of the location, are safe and make you happy to be there!

Where is the summer and winter sun path? Where will you plant tall to short? A full 6 to 8 hours of sun is best for almost all veggies. You can do shade, but it’s slower and fruits are not as big or plentiful.

If you choose to make your own compost, select an easy access area for composting, near the kitchen, if you will be using it on an ongoing basis. Plant compost speeding herbs like comfrey or yarrow right next to it. Plant pretty calendula or borage to hide it and bring bees and butterflies! If you use straw layers, leave space beside your composter or compost area for a bale staked in place on its end.  See more

Also choose an area, maybe near the compost, for your worm box if you will be growing them for their valuable castings. Mine take full sun all year. See more

Decide if you want to do a no dig Lasagna type bed or your soil is fine and you can just get to planting right now! But first, either way, install gopher protection wire!

Think about your choices for permanent residents! Plant perennial herbs by the kitchen door, at corner points or gates. The perennial Dragon Fruit along the fence. An amazing chayote needs tons of room. Artichokes are big, and grow 10 years! Set aside an all year area for flowering plants for bees, beneficials, butterflies and birds!

Where will biggies like that Winter Hubbard Squash, pumpkin, squash or melon, artichoke fit or is there really enough space for it per its production footprint?

What plants do you want? Will you judge by nutritional value first, return per square foot? Will you really eat them or has your family just always grown it? Will you be biodiversely companion planting or monoculture row planting?

Are you growing for food or seed or both? Waiting for plants to flower to seed takes time, and the space it takes is unavailable for awhile. But bees, beneficial predator insects, butterflies and birds come.

Will you be planting successive rounds of favorites throughout the season? If you plant an understory of fillers – lettuces, table onions, radish, beets, carrots, etc – you won’t need separate space for them. If you trellis, use yard side fences, grow vertical in cages, you will need less space. See Vertical Gardening, a Natural Urban Choice! If you plant in zig zags, rather than in a straight line, you can usually get one more plant in the allotted space.

Would be lovely to put in a comfy chair to watch the garden grow, see birds, listen to the breeze in the leaves.

Social at Davie Village Community Garden in Vancouver's West EndOr a social area, table, chairs, umbrella. Have candlelight summer salads in the garden with friends. This is at Davie Village Community Garden in Vancouver’s West End.

Plant sizes, time to maturity  There are early, dwarfs, container plants that produce when they are smaller, have smaller fruits. There are long growing biggies that demand their space, over grow and outgrow their neighbors! Maybe you don’t need huge, but just enough for just you since it’s only you in your household. Or it’s not a favorite, but you do like a taste! The time it takes to mature for harvest depends on weather, your soil, whether you feed it or not along the way. The size depends on you and the weather also, but mainly on the variety you choose. You can plant smaller varieties at the same time you plant longer maturing varieties for a steady table supply. How long it takes to maturity, and the footprint size of your mature plant is critical to designing your garden, making it all fit.

Vertical and Horizontal Spacing!

  • Vertical Space – More plants per square foot!
    • One method is to double trellis up! Cucumbers below beans!
    • The other is to plant in ‘layers!’ Plant an understory of ‘littles’ and fillers below larger taller plants ie Lettuce under Broccoli.
  • Horizontal Space – Give them room to thrive at MATURE SIZE!
    • Pests and diseases go right down the row of plants of the same kind that touch each other. You may lose them all ~ better is Biodiversity! Interplant with pest repelling edible companion plants!
    • Plants too closely seeded/not thinned, get rootbound. That lessens growth and production, weakens your plants since your plants are literally starving.

Look up each of your plant choices. Make a list – name, variety, days to maturity, mature spacing. The mature spacing gives a good indication how tall your plant might get and if it will shade out other plants. If you put your list on your computer you can click on the column to reorganize the list per footprint space/height or days to maturity.

Your purpose may be for your and your family’s daily food, as a chef for your clients, for a Food Bank. Fruit and nut trees may be part of your long term plan.

Now that we know how much space you have and your purpose for growing each plant, we can estimate how many plants of each you need, how many seeds you will need if you plant from seeds. Know that Mama Nature has her own schedule – lots of rain, no rain. Wind. Hail. Heat. Birds love picking seeds you planted and slugs are perpetually hungry. We won’t speak about gophers. Add to your number of seeds to account for surprises and gardener error. Get enough for succession plantings.

If you are a SoCal gardener, you may plant several times over a season. If you are canning, plant bush bean varieties and determinate tomatoes to harvest all at once. If you want a steady table supply all season long, also plant pole bean varieties and indeterminate tomatoes. If you have a Northern short season summer window, you may choose cold tolerant early bush and determinate varieties for quicker intense production.

Take into account the number of people you are feeding and their favorites!

Graph paper, sketches, a few notes jotted on the back of an envelope, in your head. It all works and is fun!

Here’s to many a glorious nutritious feast – homegrown organic, fresh and super tasty!

Back to top


The Green Bean Connection started as correspondence for the Santa Barbara CA USA Pilgrim Terrace Community Garden. All three of Santa Barbara’s community gardens are very coastal. During late spring/summer we are often in a fog belt/marine layer most years, locally referred to as the May grays, June glooms and August fogusts. Keep that in mind compared to the microclimate niche where your veggie garden is. Bless you for being such a wonderful Earth Steward!

Love your Mother! Plant bird & bee food! Think grey water! Grow organic!

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Garden Design, Labyrinth - Pastor Craig Goodwin author Year of Plenty, Spokane WA

Garden Design, Labyrinth – Pastor Craig Goodwin, author Year of Plenty, Spokane WA. Another fun form of Food Not Lawns!

Choose your plants well and place them wisely!

Plant to Plant Locations!

Northmost taller plants

Few summer plants like much shade, so plant tall to the North, short to the South. That puts tall trellises and cages to the north, or to the East so plant get the most heat they can from the afternoon sun. Pole beans, Lemon cucumbers, indeterminate tomatoes like SunGold, cherry toms, tall peppers. If your soil has wilts diseases, leave plenty of space between tomatoes so their leaves don’t touch. Thought the fungi are also windborne, it slows it down if tomatoes are planted apart rather than the disease going right down the row.

Depending on access to light, interplant cucumber vines low on a trellis with your pole beans to repel cucumber beetles. After the cukes get up a bit, over plant fast growing WHITE radishes as well to ward off cucumber beetles. Though cute, the beetles carry wilt diseases plant to plant. Eat some of the radishes, leave the rest. Radishes let to grow get 3′ tall, would shade out your cukes. Let them flop down or remove lower leaves so your cukes get sun they need. Ideally, as with tomatoes, you would plant cucumbers, a very vulnerable plant, separately from each other.

Medium height  

Squash need space, lots of space! Allow plenty for that gorgeous non-stop Zucchini or get dwarf varieties that you can keep up with! Even with dwarf varieties, healthy leaves on stems can be almost 3′ tall, easily a foot wide! Cute little Patty Pans are great and they get big too! Healthy Winter Squash can easily grow 40′ vines and produce many squash! Put them along a border or a fence line if you have that space. They are shorter than zucchini, but know that the leaves also get a foot across!

Next put in your indeterminate tomatoes, mingled with medium height peppers, eggplant in front, then tallish onions. Also plant radishes with eggplants as a trap plant for flea beetles. Flea beetle damage, little pin holes, seems so less severe, but it slows the growth of your plant way down, and there is little production. Pretty basils smell good, ward off evil insects, and need full sun. If you are going to dry farm your tomatoes put the basil somewhere else because it needs plenty of water.

Depending on which size you choose, and you have the heat to grow them, pumpkins and melonsmight be next in height. Again, you need room unless you are coastal cooler and choose small varieties. You can trellis them; just be prepared to support the fruits.

Southmost Shorties!

Put taller Romaine lettuce, arugula, feathery cilantro, to the back. Let your arugula and cilantro grow out for flowers for bees, and seed for next year’s plantings. Stir in some pretty beets, turnips, radishes for eating. Last, very southmost, plant pretty patches of low lettuces, bunch onions, mingled with strawberries! Arrange comfortable harvest access to your strawberries.

Space to Space Designs!

Now, blend those delicious plant choices into Patterns! Put them all in rows, circles, squares, diagonal rays, or have no plan at all, jungle style! That’s a plan too, right?! Whether your space is small or large, you can make pretty with it!

If you plant in rows, alternate different types of plants as well as different varieties of the same plant. Plant green alternated with purple basils. Different varieties come in at different times, attractive to an insect at one time but not another. Breaking the pattern of same plant to same plant stops insect pests from making a slurping beeline down the row of your plants. Diversity is good.

Circles can become graceful ‘S curves’ with lovely taller plants, maybe tomato cages in the center of the circle, with stepping stones for harvest access, or plant something special in the inside of each of the ‘S’ curves. Very attractive. Your S could be the continuous perimeter of your circle each instep like a keyhole area! Curves all the way around. Try a double Mandala circle!

Veggie Garden Designs, Circles, S Curves, Squares, Keyholes

Squares are absolutely divine! Your whole garden can be planted to it, or just a section or have several, each featuring something special! Put contrasting color plants in lines crossing corner to corner, like an X, or put in a 5-pointed star inside your square! Alternating colors in same length rows might make your square.

Diagonal rays can be corner to corner side by side, or Sunrise/Sunset with pinks, Marigolds in yellow or orange to set the pattern.

Favorite perennial herbs can be heady scenty lovely corner accents! Or put them at welcoming entrance points for easy harvest access. Lavendars, culinary sages, dwarf rosemarys, thymes, Italian oreganos. Put them in the ground or raised up in colorful containers to keep them from being invasive and so they can be easily replaced when they age.

Healing herbs like bright yellow chamomile and calendula, and striking blue borage with star flowers! They are taller and useful. Don’t forget other edible flowers like chives, cilantro, clover, fennel, Johnny Jump Ups, marigolds, Society garlic and all time favorite, rose petals! Bury-your-nose-in-it Mint is so pungent, wonderful tea. Needs lots of water and a container. Very invasive. How about some medicinal aloe next to your old unused terra cotta chimenea?

Other Epic Thoughtful Choices!

A centuries old Water Saving Waffle Garden
An incredibly terraced hillside food forest starting with fruit trees, sitting places under them, terrific views.
Depending on where you live, create a lowland water garden with fish, ducks, and a variety of edible pond plants. This can be done with containers too!
Baffles, dividers enclosures using vertical Pallet Gardens to create a private rest or sitting areas
Balcony multi level super Container Garden

You and the Creator can collaborate. This is called playing with your food!

Read Full Post »

Beacon Food Forest, Seattle WA open for free foraging late this summer 2014!

 

So what is a food forest?! Simply, it is a perimeter, usually U shaped, of trees with veggies growing in the hot less windy protected center area. If done like nature, it is seamless, with low veggies, then shrubs, then understory trees, then the taller trees. You can’t tell where one ‘layer’ begins or ends. In sustainable style, the trees are for wood or food, like nut trees, multi variety grafted dwarf fruit trees, native elderberry. The shrubs might be native hollyleaf cherries, blueberries or a thicket of black berries, roses for rose hips, currants, guavas, rosemary. Many times, people have been in flourishing native gardens and not even known it. 

Beacon Food Forest is using land donated by Seattle Public Utilities, and has a $100,000 grant from the city. Glenn Herlihy, one of the creators, says the forest could eventually produce “quite a bit of food,” and he hopes it will be a place where the community can come together. The forest will include a teaching space, conventional community gardening plots, a barbecue spot, and recreational areas. 

Set to become the nation’s largest forageable space, it will cover seven acres within city limits, offering FREE FOOD, everything from plum, apple, and walnut trees, to berry bushes, herbs and vegetables. 

Herlihy hopes visitors will practice “ethical harvesting”–taking what they need, or what they can eat right away. But for those feeling greedy, there will be a “thieves garden” containing lower-grade stuff. “We also plan to have a lot of people around, so you’re not going to feel comfortable taking a lot of stuff,” he adds.

The Video! Beacon Food Forest, in turn, has inspired London’s Mabley Green, close by the Olympic Park, to create their own food forest of fruit and nut trees with vegetables, raspberries and herbs on the forest floor. The latest news I could find on that was dated Mar 10, 2014 – the project has been approved to the tune of £860,000, that’s $1,445,942 US! They want it to be the world’s largest “edible park!” Chairman of the user group, Damian Rafferty, says the edible garden would help tackle childhood obesity rates, of which Hackney has some of the worst in London. “We also want Hackney mums to be able to say to the children, ‘Run to the park and pick some apples for the tea.’ It’s about bringing a bit of rural into an urban area.”

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now. – Chinese Proverb

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: