Our Permaculture Food Forest Evolution

Element Eco-Design's Suburban Food Forest

Fall Planting for Spring Success!

Early fall is a great time to get perennials and home fruit trees in the ground, they still have enough time to settle into their new homes and often preform better the following year than those planted in the hot summer sun. Another great reason to plant your trees in the fall is the cost savings! Nurseries often discount trees and perennials at the end of the season to clear out for next years stock. Be sure to check the tree over thoroughly, you do not want to bring home a damaged or diseased tree.

The same rules apply when planting a fall tree as a summer one but Gord and I tend to avoid adding an excess of nitrogen such as bonemeal and opt for Mycorrhizal fungi instead.  We do this to encourage root growth over branch and leaf growth which may be susceptible to frost damage.  Be sure to water your tree regularly despite cool fall temperatures this will give your tree the best chance for surviving the winter.


Our Permaculture Food Forest Evolution

I think any designer would agree with me, planning your own site is the hardest thing to do!  Gord and I have no problem visiting a client and coming up with a whole list of beneficial recommendations for their Permaculture project, but when it comes to our own site we get stuck. I think it is because our site is an evolution of sorts, the master plan has been set for the property but the devil is in the details.  We are constantly being inspired by the designs we create for our clients, the books and articles we read and the all of the fantastic new flavours we experience each season. Because of all of this our Backyard Food Forest design has become an ever evolving project.

The area in question is located at the back of our property at the base of our North sloping yard.  The area is well protected to the North by a large stand of mixed conifers, which actually work to create a wonderful, warm, sun-trap microclimate.  The area began as dynamic accumulator(AKA weeds) central and only after adding layer and layers of cardboard, wood chips, straw, spoiled hay and over 100 bags of leaves does it kind of resemble a designated garden.  Our next step was to replace the previous dynamic accumulators with plants of our choosing, this helps to occupy the space that would otherwise be occupied by said dynamic accumulators. As the area is well over 75’x30′, that would be a lot of seedling to plant, I opted instead to broadcast sunny, annual, Calendula seeds over the area.  Calendula is a great medicinal plant which grows in thickly and quickly out competes most common weeds. Calendula is loved by bees and although it is enthusiastic, it is also easy to manage and easy to remove when it is time to add in a more productive plant.

Since prepping the site last fall and broadcasting the Calendula, Gord and I have added multiple berry bushes and fruit trees such as Blueberries, Huckleberries, Saskatoon, Native Thimbleberry, Chinese Chestnuts, Hazelnuts and an Ever-bearing Mulberry. We are now beginning to plant the fruit trees, we have a multi-graft Apricot/Nectarine, a Peach, a Nectarine, a Pear and an Apricot all waiting to be planted. Next spring we will add to our support species with perennials such as Yarrow, Echinacea, more Comfrey and one of our favourite nitrogen fixing plants False Indigo.

So although our plan has changed many times and Im sure this is not the final design, we are glad to get some plants in the ground, some guilds formed and we look forward to obtaining a yield next season!