Forests into Gardens

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Forests into Gardens

A ForestGarden

It has been said that each of us has within us a forest. Deep down inside of our consciousness are the memories of our ancestor’s landscapes, which more than likely were in woodlands or near them. In our past history, we relied on the forests to provide for our basic needs for food, shelter, clothing and beauty. Today our forests are becoming few and far between as our cities keep spreading out with more and more concrete. Now we are coming to awareness that trees are a very precious commodity not just for building or simply being cleared away. They are actually our lifelines. They are the lungs of the earth and they absorb carbon dioxide which is creates the greenhouse effect and creating climate change. Today we are aware that climate change is happening faster because of our own actions.

Our forests not only inhale carbon dioxide but they exhale the oxygen that all life badly needs. Trees are the lungs for the planet and all its living beings. It is also a known fact that the earth cannot survive without the ground cover provided by the trees. Trees provide a canopy to cut down on the harm that the ultra-violet waves of sunlight can cause. They are part of the plant life we need to subsist on. There are over thousands of trees that bear fruit for eating. Some gardeners are catching on to the idea of forest gardens.

The forest garden has several layers…the top one consists of trees, the middle layer is filled with shrubs and the ground layer incorporates herbs, vegetables and flowers. The larger trees are space out to allow for the sun to fall in between the plants beneath them. The trees enfold the growing space without smothering out the other plants. We can even create a seven layered garden: tall trees, fruit and nut trees, shrubs, herbs, ground cover like creeping thyme and strawberries, clover (high in nitrogen), vine layer and root layer that uses onions, garlic and daikon radishes.

The beauty of trees as a center piece in gardening is their ability to enrich the soil with their humsy roots and offer their branches for the animals. Trees, such as fruit trees can bear more food than an acre of grain plants and do not have to be replanted every year. A forest garden can be as versatile as we want it to be. It can be a combination of food, beauty, habitat for the animals and provide an income to the household.

There is an evolution process that occurs with the forest garden. Many of its plants are not measured in a year, but in a decade. All of its occupants will have different life spans and each of their rhythms will play off of each other. The lower levels of the forest garden will drink in the sunlight first rather than the top layer followed by the shrubs and then the trees. With time from the first plantings onwards, the forest garden will fill out in character. The original herb layer will eventually have to be replaced with new plantings as well as shrubs and small trees taking over the space preventing any other new growth.

Trees are not only beautiful. They are full of life-giving energy. They provide a sense of stability with their roots going deep and outward into the ground, feeding not just themselves, but all of life around them. They are the earth’s greatest protector from the weather, the wind and erosion to generating mulch and fertilizer. They provide for a great abundance and could be the next solution to ending most of the hunger in the world.

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