Food forests and gardens

The food forest gardening approach is the creation of systems which are productive and abundant yet which require very little maintenance. It is entirely possible to design and plant a forest which, within a relatively short period of time is productive and relatively self-maintaining.
By exploiting the premise of companion planting, trees, shrubs and herbs can be intermixed to grow on multiple levels in the same area, as do the plants in a forest.
We can consciously apply the principles of ecology to the design of home scale gardens that mimic forest ecosystem structure and function, but at the same time grow food, fuel, fiber, fodder, fertilizer and medicine.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Saving water through cover cropping.

The best way to save on water usage in the garden is to increase vegetative ground cover.
This keeps the soil cool which reduces evaporation and also aids in water absorption.
Water will only penetrate the soil if the ground temperature is cooler than the water falling upon it.

Plants to use for ground cover can be either nitrogen fixing crops, like Red Clover (Trifolium pretense), Lupin (Lupinus spp.), or Vetch ( Vicia spp.) or other edible ground cover plants such as
Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile)
Chicory (Cichorium intybus)
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
Strawberries (Fragaria X ananassa)
Thyme (Thymus spp.)
Yarrow (Achillea millefollium)
Calendula (Calendula officinalis)
Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum coronarium)
Daylilies (Hemerocallis)
Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis)
Fucshia (Fuchsia x hybrida)
Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus)
Pansies, Violas and Violets (Viola spp.)

Another way to increase ground cover is to pack your garden out with a poly-culture of different vegetables and herbs. My next post will comprise an extensive companion planting list. Companion planting is the best way to avoid problems, as some plant families are incompatible while interplanting others will enhance production, flavor, nutrient uptake and resistance to disease and insects.
For example, Brassica and Nightshade are two plants not to be interplanted due to the chemicals in decayed roots of Brassica. Lettuce and Potatoes plants are specifically susceptible to Brassica. On the other hand Naturtiums and Coriander can reduce Potato Beetle Larvea.

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