One thing I repeat consistently is that no two lives look the same. Minimalism, homesteading, simple living – it all looks different for everyone, which is why I feel we all learn from each other. When Craig, from Green and Growing, reached out to me to share with you about forest gardening, he introduced an entirely new perspective to me.
Typically, gardening is thought of as tilling the ground to plant and/or planting in raised beds or pots, but I doubt you think about utilizing the woods on your property as well. Better yet, I am sure you are thinking what kind of plants can I utilize that grow in a forest garden setting. Thankfully, Craig is explaining the how, what, and where for us!
Be sure to tell me which forest garden intrigues you the most in the comments below this post!
Forest Gardening Tips and Tricks
The basic, egalitarian idea behind forest gardening is the ability to create a long-lasting and sustainable garden that works with the environment rather than working over the natural landscape. Forest gardening takes time and dedication, but the end results are more than worth the effort. Keep reading to see a few helpful tips and tricks on how to grow and maintain your own forest garden.
Create Healthy Soil
Before you can begin planting, you must make sure that the soil in your garden is healthy and nutrient-rich to facilitate better growth and longevity in your forest garden. Healthy soil is also better able to hold water, which will help keep your plants happy and growing tall.
To create a good base soil for your garden, consider starting a compost heap and get your hands on a variety of mulches and whatever other kinds of nutrients the soil of your garden’s location might be lacking. Once you have your soil ready to go, you can begin planting with confidence.
One of the greatest benefits of a forest garden is its ability to grow a diverse population of different plant species. When you set out to start planning your forest garden, keep in mind that it is just as important to have a variety of plants in addition to multiples of the same variant. Luckily, a forest garden offers plenty of space if you plan your garden right, so you should have all the room you need to accomplish this task.
Diversity in your garden should extend throughout the seasons, so that the garden is consistently and continuously growing a wide variety of fruits, nuts, herbs, vegetables, mushrooms, flowers, fibers, etc., over the course of the year. Eventually, the forest garden will become its own, self-sustaining ecosystem, so long as you provide it with the tools it will need to grow properly.
Find a good area to start that gets plenty of sunlight (and at different levels so all plants, from the tallest to the shortest, receive the light they need) and is protected against strong winds. It is also best to not start your forest garden too close to a body of water, as the occasional flooding will damage your crops and the water itself will cause your garden beds to erode more quickly.
The perfect balance is to find a location that can withstand extremes in temperature on both ends of the spectrum. You want your garden to be as low maintenance as possible; let the forest do what it does best. So make sure your garden is well lit, well watered, and generally stable where you decide to start growing.
Pick the Right Plants
Depending on the type of forest that you are working with, make sure that you are choosing the proper plants that will flourish in that specific climate.
Climate: between 68-77 degrees F year-round and humid
The plants that thrive best in a rainforest are those that can withstand a great deal of rainfall and moisture. This include tall, broad-leaf trees, orchids, coffee plants, etc.
Climate: four seasons with precipitation throughout the year
Mosses, ferns, wildflowers, maples, oaks, and birch trees do best in a deciduous forest, among others.
Climate: coastal, heavy rainfall year-round
Evergreens are the most common type of tree in coniferous forests, particularly catering to large trees and low-growing shrubs.
Climate: long winters, short summers
The soil in a boreal forest is very thing, and growth is limited to primarily evergreen varieties of trees and shrubs.
Remember that a forest garden, while highly rewarding in the long run, is a big commitment that will take time to see ample results. If your first harvest is not as lush as you had hoped, don’t get discouraged; the ecosystem will always provide, and your garden will bloom before you know it. Practice patience, and see your forest gardening efforts come to life.
Craig loves to spend all the time he can outdoors and finds every excuse to leave the house. He writes about everything about our planet and edit even more of it. He hopes you’ll join him in making the Earth a cleaner and greener place! Follow Craig at the Green and Growing Blog, and on Facebook!