Mother Nature has been growing plants and trees for about 400 million years ago. That’s so long ago that even people did not exist. After people arrived, they thrived on nature’s bounty.
Nevertheless, farms and forests have been in a very strange relationship. On one hand, we have to cut down the forest to make way for agriculture. On the other hand, a growing movement called agro-forestry “capitalizes” on the free services forests provide farmers and gardeners with.
There’s a guy called Martin Crawford, who has been working on his 2-acre forest garden in England for over 20 years. Well, actually he let it do the work for him for most of the part… He realized that trees do much more than just protect the delicate edible plants from the elements and extreme weather. They provide nutrients, water, and pollen. The fact is, that you cannot find all your favorite traditional annual veggies in a forest garden. But you’ll have a chance to discover various new edible plants, that you were not aware of their existence before. And this man noticed that if you pick your plants carefully, they will propagate themselves every single year and live among the other species around them. Meanwhile, they will ask for no planting, fertilizing, weeding or watering for that matter.
Now, he has like 500 varieties of food growing in his garden. And the interesting thing is that it does not require much work. The only thing he has to do is plucking and eating the fruits! But prior to this, the initial planting required a lot of digging in the area. He did a lot of research and watering at the beginning.
Creating a Forest Garden
He has a book which is called Creating a Forest Garden, and in his book he talks about what this kind of a garden should include. It’s all about useful plants like fruit trees, nuts, vegetables, mineral herbs, among other things. It shall also include indirectly useful plants. They will help the system function better. It means that there should be nitrogen fixers, mineral accumulators and plants that attract beneficial insects because that will eat pests.
And one last thing that is very important when it comes to planting – the soil. When farming on a forest garden, do not care about the soil. His advice is that you shouldn’t clear the forest. Instead, you should let the forest grow the food for you.
More information on the topic, can be found in his book, mentioned above.