Forest Gardening: An Introduction
the backyard food forest
Have you begun to feel that the time you spend watering and cutting your lawn is a waste and probably doing more harm than good? Tired of using poisonous chemicals to keep that lawn green and golf course ready?
Or are you longing for fresh fruits and vegetables?
Perhaps both appeal to you and if you have answered yes to one or both then it could be time to turn your yard into a food forest garden.
If you do undergo the transformation, you will be no longer be using your time and energy to maintain an unnatural ecosystem- the lawn- which gives you little in return for your efforts.
Instead, you will be investing that time, energy and dollars in an ecosystem that provides you and your family with fresh right off the vine, produce all the while, creating a backyard habitat that will attract, butterflies, bees and birds.
The backyard food forest meets not only you and your family’s needs but provides food and shelter for butterflies and songbirds, for example.
The inclusion of native plants and others, such as herbs, berries and fruit trees, in the backyard forest garden will form the layers of your backyard forest.
Your lawn wants to become a forest; it wants to follow Nature’s way and eventually become a forest but the constant maintenance that a lawn requires prevents this natural progression from taking place and creates considerable work for the homeowner.
As you move away from the lawn; from an unnatural and stalled ecosystem that wants to evolve but is constantly thwarted in its desire, you move from wasting your resources to investing them and stop using resources poorly and begin to invest so that one day you can reap the rewards of your work as you harvest, fruit, berries, herbs and vegetables fresh from you own backyard.
The role of the gardener is not to stall ecosystems and combat natural growth but to work with that desire and need to grow and guide the progress so that it meets the needs of all beings.
This way balance is maintained and the garden becomes a place of mediation between Nature and Civilization rather than a war zone.
You can start small. There is no need to overturn your whole backyard into a forest garden the first time around, select a sunny corner and work with dwarf fruit trees for example.
This is a process and you may proceed at your own pace.
If you are interested in converting your backyard into a food garden then the book, I’d suggest is Gaia's Garden:A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture by Toby Hemenway. It is published by Chelsea Green, 2001, and has a foreword by John Todd.
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- How to Grow Fruits and Berries
You don't have to own a large estate to grow a wide variety of fruits at home. If you don't have space for full-sized trees, you can plant dwarf forms of apples, pears and other fruits. Or try pruning and training trees on a trellis in the time-honor