I’ve come along way since last May when I posted my first phase of the food forest garden design for the backyard. Lucky for me, all the trees and shrubs I planted last year made it through the season so I can build off of that initial plan. The Great Sheet Mulching of 2007 went well also, so the garden is a blank slate just waiting to be filled in this season.

The food forest plan is complete, finally. This is, of course, just a plan. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that you can’t control nature and all plans are merely evolutions of a design in progress. Here is a recap of some elements of the design:

  • We are building a driveway, patio, and trellis this summer – more on these projects in later posts.
  • I have decided to re-build my chicken coop. Generally the same design, but it my carpentry skills have improved dramatically. Improvements will include a slanted roof, so the coop will rest next to the house, insulation/less air gaps, and better light for the girls.
  • Existing concrete paths are shown in gray. Informal paths throughout the garden are shown in a bluish-gray.
  • Dark brown areas will be filled in with smaller, perennial plants. Emphasis will be placed on beneficial insect-attracting flowers and herbs.
  • Orange boxes are my vegetable beds, built last year.
  • Potato tires are a project I am trying this year for the first time. Start with one recycled tire and plant potatoes in it. Once the greens get high, place a new tired and fill with soil, forcing the shoots to produce more potato tubers. Repeat. Find more info here and a post will follow later in the Spring.
  • Herb spirals were something I first read about in my favorite Urban Permaculture book, Gaia’s Garden, although I have since seen them elsewhere. Here is an example.

Whew. Here is the final, final, final rundown of my forth-coming purchases to complete the shell of the food forest:

  • Chinese dogwood – edible fruit (E), wildlife attractor (W), spring flowers (F), fall color
  • Aronia (2x) – E, W, F, fall color
  • Flowering Quince (4x) – E, F, lovely branch structure for winter interest
  • Artichoke (2x) – E (my favorite veggie), mulch material
  • Trumpet Vine – beneficial insect attractor (BIA), long-season bloomer
  • Currant (2x) – E, W, BIA, F
  • Blueberry (2x) – E, W, BIA, F, fall color
  • China Blue vine – E, evergreen vine for privacy
  • Raspberries (10x) – E, W, BIA, F
  • Beautyberry (2x) – W, winter berries for interest
  • Asian Persimmon – E, W, F, fall color
  • Silverberry (2x) – E, evergreen shrub for privacy, fall flowers
  • Hardy kiwi (male & female) – E, W, F
  • Porcelain berry vine – E, W, F

The front yard is western-facing, so I am not expecting huge crops since sunlight is limited. Everything there though is up for grabs for the neighbor kids. The old, ancient pine tree is a great landmark that provides shelter for passing birds and squirrels. So basically, the front yard is for the community – not so much for us.

The backyard is entirely for us. Well, and some friends. There are quite a few projects on our roster to make the design come to life, but we are ready for the work and look forward to a season even better than last year.

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Written by Renee Wilkinson