In a Nut Shell

Let me preface this by saying for the last 5 or 6 years my interest in the plant world has spiraled out of control. Instead of picking up my favorite old books, I now reach for my trusty edible and medicinal wild plants book. Truely it has become an obsession. I watch videos on youtube to learn about planting methods and ultimately to learn about permaculture. I think that I have honestly watched just about every video pertaining to permaculture that has been posted in the last 3 years! I digress…..

Without further ado; Here is the idea in a nut shell.
We are turning our backyard into a food forest garden. This term, coined by Robert Hart ( I think, he seems to be credited with it often enough, let say it was him), refers to planting strategically to create the 7 layers of a forest using food plants. Ok, so lets go through the layers:

  1. A ‘canopy’ layer consisting of the original mature fruit trees.
  2. A ‘low-tree’ layer of smaller nut and fruit trees on dwarfing root stocks.
  3. A ‘shrub layer’ of fruit bushes such as currants and berries.
  4. A ‘herbaceous layer’ of perennial vegetables and herbs.
  5. A ‘ground cover’ layer of edible plants that spread horizontally.
  6. A ‘rhizosphere’ or ‘underground’ dimension of plants grown for their roots and tubers.
  7. A vertical ‘layer’ of vines and climbers.

When we moved onto the property the back yard originally had 2 huge Black (I think) Maples; a large Cedar at the back left hand corner and an Oak growing along the back fence close to the middle of the yard. These qualify as the canopy layer.
The 11 fruit trees we have put in comprise the low tree layer.  They will reach between 10-15 meters in height.
The shrub layer is comprised of the berry bushes, the currants and the lily patches.
The herbaceous layer is our veggie patches and our herbs (bergamont, mint, oregano etc.)
The ground cover layers is being planned out and we are seeking some indigenous plants to fill this layer, so far we have put in a wild ginger which is a creeping ground cover kind of plant. We also are attempting to use strawberries of multiple varieties to fill this layer.
The rhizosphere is also being planned. We recently found out that we can eat the tubers of our day lilies. I have loads more research to do on this layer, I am open to suggestions!
The vertical layer is mainly comprised of our honeysuckle and our grapes. But we are also going to put ion peas and beans to climb the firepit surround.

So I think that about covers it. I am open to any questions, comments and criticisms. This is my first blog, and it is our first try at permaculture food forest gardening. We need all the help we can get!

Here is a summary of Robert Hart’s work, There is way more to the concept. As I come across links to helpful or informative videos I will post them.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by renee on September 4, 2011 at 9:38 am

    dont forget the aloa vera, For cut and intestinal , a wonder drug.And, milk thisal for creating new liver cells must have .Good luck


    • We actually have to grow Aloe in the house, as we do not have a great climate for it. Milk Thistle is a great herb too, we have some volunteer Thistle growing along the driveway!


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