Saturday, October 10, 2015

My Secret Garden

After attempting to grow vegetables in my backyard, which receives less than 4 hours of sun per day, I shifted those efforts to the front, where the sun shines up to 8 hours per day.  I can grow things there, but not as well as those that come from my plot in our community's garden area.  Now, I am going back the other direction.  Rather than concede my remaining undeveloped 0.6 acres to the forest, I'm beginning to turn it into a forest garden.  Ironically, this entails removing a good number of trees for reasons just mentioned.
The thing is, a forest garden is not the type of forest that we find most places.  It is a place where selected plants are allowed to successively develop together, as in a new forest, but does not result in an overstory that shuts out the shrubbery from the sun.  My first tree removal authorization comes with the stipulation that I plant a new tree for every 5 that I cut down.  In my area, that is probably a good ratio to build a forest garden by.  The trees I cut down will either end up as biochar or as hosts to some of my gourmet mushrooms.
My forest garden will be a secret garden since my undeveloped land is mainly in a ravine not visible from the road.  Plants growing on slopes tend to be smaller than those on level ground, so I may be able to get away with planting a larger range of plants, while keeping their sizes down to garden scale.
Since forest gardens are an attempt to restore our surroundings to something approaching the Garden of Eden, I thought I would start with one of the trees reputed to having been there - the fig (contrary to what you may have been led to assume about Eve eating a forbidden apple).  Along with that, we picked up a gooseberry bush from Edible Landscaping on our last swing through Virginia.  They are positioned well to be the premier supplier of forest garden plants in our area as this idea catches on.

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