Getting Started PART 1 - What Is The First Step To Creating Your Own Edible & Herbal Food Forest

Uncategorized Mar 05, 2020
 

FIRST CREATE A PLAN!!! 

Year after year I see people rush, throw plants in the ground, and hope that magic happens by the following year!!! IT WON’T!!! YOU NEED A PLAN! 

You can not expect plants to become layered, structured, seasonal, and companion planted properly if you have no idea what you are doing. In other words, a well running food forest needs structure! Layered – so plants grouped together will not smother each other out. Structured – so they have an exact spot with an exact purpose. Seasonal – so they come up at the correct time of year.  And companion planted – so they are beside other plants that are compatible and complement each other. 

Your edible & herbal food forest needs to gradually develop as nature intended, and there is no way for that to happen if you do not create a plan! Imagine waiting 10 years for a special tree to bear fruit, only to find out 10 years later you picked the wrong variety and it won’t happen. You really have to take your time and make sure you cover all your bases!! This is exactly where my end tagline comes from – The Future Is Worth The Patience Of The Present! REMEMBER THAT ALWAYS!!! 

 

THERE IS GOOD NEWS – I CAN HELP YOU!!! 

That is what this membership is all about!! I can fast track you to the finish line much quicker because of what I already know. I can help you along the way and we can figure things out together. You still need to fully understand what you are doing before doing it – THAT is the secret to long term success and that is where I come in! I can help you create your dream food forest – just take your time, learn as you go, and enjoy the process.

 

HOW TO:

CREATE A PLAN

START BY DOING YOUR RESEARCH

You have to know what you want from a food forest and what you are getting yourself into. I gradually figured it out by asking people questions, searching the internet, and reading books! You must think to yourself – what will I actually be doing not only now, next year, but even 10 years from now in my edible & herbal food forest and what are my goals for final success!!! 

WHAT I WANTED

Here is what I wanted for my ideal food forest:

First of all, I wanted to make a difference in our daily lives by creating a more self sustaining/self sufficient lifestyle. I wanted to drastically decrease our “grocery store” purchases and see how close to 100% self sufficient we really could become.

I wanted to create a fully functioning magical-wonderland of edible & herbal “perennial, biennial, and annual” plants with 4 seasons of harvests. Perennials are permanent and come back year after year – Biennials are semi permanent and come back for two years – and Annuals last a season or two then die. I wanted to catalog and label everything like a living encyclopedia of nature. I wanted to focus mostly on “perennials,” because I knew that would be less work for me. And I wanted plants that could reseed themselves – some do and some do not!

I wanted nuts, mushrooms, fruits, & vegetables companion planted everywhere so they could take advantage of each others virtues. Companion planting is the way to go for a food forest!

I wanted to create an extensive supply of herbs that I could nurture myself then turn into homemade necessities and everyday household products. This was huge for me as I have always made so much of our daily necessities myself – but now I wanted to actually grow the herbs instead of purchasing them already dried!

I wanted a biodiverse ecosystem (animals/insects/bugs included) that could function okay without me, but run superior with my daily/weekly/monthly assistance! I wanted an actual forest with intriguingly natural hallways, doors, & walkways – and where possible I wanted it to evoke some kind of childhood or adult memory!! 

I wanted my harvests to be gradual and consistent instead of all at once. I never liked the idea of spending entire weekends saving buckets of produce from the garden…and quite honestly none of my family members liked that idea either. I like to save my harvests (whether I am drying, freezing, cooking, smoking, etc) a little at a time because I can add these shorter daily chores into my daily/weekly schedule much easier than trying to lasso up the family to preserve 100 quarts of tomatoes over the course of a weekend! Not that I am against canning vegetables…it is a lot of work and I plan to do more of it in the future! I just prefer shorter, easier methods of preserving foods! 

I wanted lots of “cut and come again” plants (that means if you keep cutting they will keep producing) so I could use their foliage, sticks, stems, and wood for compost, mulch, food, structures, firewood and MORE! I didn’t want to keep paying for truck loads of mulch delivered to my house. Eventually, I wanted my food forest to supply its own resources!

And most importantly, I wanted to be able to handle most if not all of the chores myself! I didn’t want to constantly be asking my husband for assistance. The comment/question “hey honey can you till the soil this weekend” was always so hard to ask! Not because he wouldn’t do it, but because HE WOULD!!! He works hard himself, tilling the landscape on his days off just seemed unnecessary and a little unfair! 

Oh and one more thing – as a woman, I wanted to make sure I could physically take care of this enormous edible & herbal paradise. If a chore was too physically demanding, then I planned to change it to fit my abilities and “tilling the soil” was going to be the first chore to change!! As it turns out, tilling is actually not even necessary and can hurt more than help! I have an entire post coming in the near future all about this subject as this may shock some of you…let’s talk about it!!! 

 

15 YEARS LATER…

This dream of mine has become a reality and has surpassed my wildest expectations. I spend a little bit of time in my food forest every single day for several months in a row from Spring through Fall – then weekly during the winter months. I actually do my best work when it is colder outside! I pace myself! Some months are more demanding than others such as harvest season – but I prefer it this way because it allows me some down time during the not so demanding months! This is my contribution as a mother and a wife and the best thing I feel I can do for my family!! This is my job!! A job that I LOVE!

I am full speed ahead and plan to add some animals to the mix like chickens for eggs, and maybe rabbits for their droppings. Rabbit droppings make great compost filled with nutrients you can feed to your plants. I also plan to train someone to take care of things here so if needed we can get away for a few weeks! I plan to add some bigger structures and outdoor hardware too like a smoker, pizza oven, and water feature for quickly rinsing vegetables, and I will share all of it in this membership with YOU!

It makes me feel good knowing that I have control of the foods we eat and the products we use. Plus, it saves us thousands of dollars a year!!! You can’t beat that! My vision, my dream, is now a reality!

WHAT DO YOU WANT

Here are some questions to help you get started: 

  • What is the zone in my area? 
  • Where is the sun coming from in direct relation to my landscape? – How does the sun hit my property throughout the day? THIS IS MOST IMPORTANT!!!
  • What plants grow best where I live? – Are they native…in other words do they come from my area to begin with? – Take long walks in your nearest woods to identify the local plants that thrive in your area!
  • What do I want to grow and what are their requirements? – Example: fruits, nuts, mushrooms, herbs, etc. 
  • Do I have the room/space for each plant I wish to grow? – Think vertical the smallest spaces will grow so much more than you think!
  • What do I plan to do with the plants I have chosen? – Am I just planting stuff because they are cool looking or because I have an actual purpose and plan for each one? 
  • Do I want to add animals into the mix? – Example: chickens, rabbits, goats, etc. and what do they need in order to manage them?
  • Do I need to ask permission or apply for some type of a license/permit? – Some areas have restrictions and regulations! – Find out what they are and follow the rules!
  • Do I have access to large truck loads of organic wood chips and mulch? – You will need a lot of mulch to mimic a food forest floor!
  • Where is my water coming from? – Do I have good access? – You will water more at the beginning, and less once everything becomes established!
  • Can I keep a journal? – You will absolutely need to take notes and document everything! – It’s just good practice and always helpful to have permanent records to refer back to especially 15 years later!! 
  • Are there any physical limitations to the chores or work I will be performing? – Make sure you are able to accomplish the necessary tasks – Don’t give yourself work you physically can not do! 

 

 

MAP OUT A PLAN ON PAPER

Once you have figured out most of the above questions, next you should try to draw it on paper. Get out your coloring pencils & pens and try to draw what you are planning to create. It can be a simple line drawing with words or an elaborately drawn masterpiece blueprint. 

Start with sun placement, then add the plants you wish to grow. Do it in sections, especially if you have a large area to work with. You can add to your drawing as you grow and develop your food forest.

You will appreciate these drawings later on in the year, when the snow is blanketing your landscape (if you get snow) and you can’t remember what you planted or where you planted it! I do a lot of planning during the winter months and these homemade drawings come in very handy! Always keep track of what you are doing in picture form – you will thank yourself later!!!

 

 

WHAT’S NEXT

In my next post “Getting Started Part 2” I will talk about sun placement and how incredibly important it is for you to understand its relationship with your landscape!! Also coming up I will put together a valuable list of books and resources that helped me figure out what plants I actually wanted to grow, and what I needed to know about growing them!

Stay tuned…

ACCESS THE REST OF MY FOOD FOREST GUIDE HERE

THE FUTURE IS WORTH THE PATIENCE OF THE PRESENT!
YOUR FRIEND,
MICHELE
THE HOMEMADE GARDENER

 

 

 

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