Planning a Forest Garden – the intent

By | January 19, 2012

I’ve been working for some time now on a project to send a “garden in a box” to refugee camps in the Sahara with Martin Dewhurst. It’s called New Dawn Rovers.
One of the big issues is that there’s a very limited amount of rainfall there and providing shade and adequate moisture will be one of the big challenges. So we’ve been studying some of the approaches the Permaculture boys have used in greening deserts in other parts of the world, most notably in Jordan.
As I’ve been reading up about this I’ve become increasingly interested in the permaculture approach and while we’re not ready to apply it to the nursery at this stage, I’ve come to the conclusion that we should build a forest garden area between our house and the open field. We’ve got a certain amount of remade ground from putting in the rainwater reservoirs for the nursery (which in itself involved removing a row of Apple Trees.
So the plan is to replace these and try and build a stacked tract of ground that has fruit trees embedded in fruit bushes with a ground cover of comfrey, sweet potatoes, legumes and some leaf vegetables.
The area is about 45 m long (east –west) and about 20 m wide at one end and 12 m wide at the other. It already contains a plum Tree, a Mulberry, 3 blackcurrant bushes and a couple of crowns of rhubarb. Just outside the area next to the house is a Fig.
My aim is to grow Damsons, Apples Plums, Quince and Apricots – mostly as bushes but a couple as half standards with blackcurrant, gooseberry and raspberry in between and some good ground cover. It needs to be scalloped to make use of the sun and it needs to become self fertilising and self mulching. Finally it needs to be protected from deer which are endemic as we are about 10 miles south of Ashdown Forest here.
Most of the area is under grass apart from the bit of made ground left over from the pool.
We’re going to have to do this in stages as it will take quite a lot of effort and planning. We already have a certain amount of boundary fence in place but we have quite a bit of willow ready to turn into hedges and to lay at the back. Since we have about another six weeks left to make hardwood cuttings, I’m minded to get on with that and ordering the fruit trees first.
Here’s a couple of pictures of the site before we start.

View across the site showing mulberry tree

View across the site to South West showing Mulberry Tree

I’ll keep you up to date as we progress.

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