Image credit: Perennial Solutions
Back in January I posted about a great video tour of a mature forest garden. Now the same folks have created a superb video introduction to the principles of designing edible polycultures, including some common examples of plant pairings that offer edible food crops, as well as nitrogen-fixing support plants that should help reduce or eliminate the need for bringing in external fertilizers. When done right, the theory is that these principles should create productive, healthy food gardens that pretty much look after themselves—with humans playing the supporting role of harvesting and the occasional bit of weeding or pruning.Principles of Forest Gardening
Created by Perennial Solutions, the video first walks us through some of the top tips for creating successful edible polycultures. Whether it's minimizing competition, maximizing cooperation, or finding plants that make the best use of the nice we are providing, the idea is to create forest gardens that can—as successfully as possible—fend for themselves through the symbiotic relationships between their various elements.
Examples of Permaculture Polycultures
The video goes on to provide specific example of successful polycultures that can be replicated in most gaqrdens—from ramps growing under jostaberries to a three-species polyculture consisting of asian pears, gooseberries and Siberian pea shrubs, these are certainly more interesting than your average vegetable or fruit garden.
Permaculture Projects Gaining Popularity
With permaculture projects like UMass Amherst's on-campus edible forest garden becoming ever more common, and peak fertilizer continuing to be a looming threat, it's great to see folks creating more and more accessible, easy-to-follow resources for permaculture design.
Can Forest Gardens Become a Major Source of Food?
Whether edible forest gardens ever become a source of food for significant numbers of people, or whether they remain a niche interest, remains to be seen. But any discipline that creates a supplemental, low input and low impact food source can only be a welcome thing.