Monday, October 13, 2014

Food forest in the tropics becoming a reality?

Everywhere I look I see food forests being referred to as the way to go growing food in a small area.  I often have to put up a shade cloth to protect the delicate greens like lettuce.  I have toyed with the idea of planting a dwarf avocado, and growing lettuces and greens in the shade of the tree instead of putting up a shade cloth.  A couple of weeks ago I saw a grafted avocado which the market seller assured me was not going to grow too big for my little yard.  In a leap of faith I purchased it, pushing aside the memory of the 40ft tree that was growing in my back yard in Africa.  This weekend I added yet another shade cloth.  It is so hot and dry and the shade cloth helps to keep the plants cooler and they dont dry out as quickly.


I had to prune back the long branches of the barbadoes cherry so that they didnt touch the shade cloth.  I have been mulching with my own compost instead of buying mulch, but at this rate if it doesnt rain soon I might pick up a bag of sugar cane mulch. 
  The bok choy and rocket has gone to seed, so that will remain until I can harvest the seeds.  I dont mind if that area just self seeds itself every year, but feel as though I should save some seeds just in case.  Wouldnt it be marvellous if my little garden could grow up again year after year.  Is there anyone out there who does that?  Do you just let the plants die in place and cover them over with mulch?  I often like to grow a green manure crop in between, so does that upset the balance and drown out the original seeds?  I know my amaranth comes up all over the place, but then that is easy to recognise.  At the moment the entire front bed is covered with tiny amaranth plants, so I guess I could dig that in.  what is better for the soil?  A green manure crop, a ground cover type of crop ( or mulch?  The asparagus bed is weeded and I have started harvesting a few tasty stalks.  I keep them in a jar in the fridge until I have neough for a meal.   Only the purple asparagus has lovely thick spears.  My little seedlings didnt make it through the dry season :(.   I am not sure whether to start more seeds or hope that the green ones thicken up a bit.

 I moved the little potting bench next to the bins, right at the end of the path.  Front and center, as I want to make sure that I do keep up the watering and taking care of the seedlings and microgreens.  I was tempted to buy a small greenhouse for this area since they were on special at Bunnings, but they are flimsy and wont last more than one season.  I bought another tree too :)  a bay tree!  I am not yet sure where to plant it, so it is just sitting on the potting bench waiting further instruction.   The leaves are strange - they grow right alongside the stem before they open up.

  I am starting out some microgreens (carrot, leek and radish)  so that I have some salad greens to go with all the cherry tomatoes that are in full production.  I also started some rosellas as I want to grow more this year along the back fence and tatsoi - which I got from Liz at 8 acres. I am waiting for my rocket to seed so that I can send her some of those seeds.


All in all I think I had a rather productive weekend in my food forest.

PS - I fixed the trouble that I had with photos turning sideways!  Edit and rotate them in picassa and then add them from there to the blog.  :)  Happy me!




16 comments:

  1. I'm not a good enough gardener to answer any of your questions :-) and I lazily leave the garden to go to seed every year. I don't actually save any seed, at least not yet though I hope to in future. I just clean up the garden in late Spring and plant again. I like the idea of a food forest. xx

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    1. I dont have the cold winters that you have, so pretty much try to grow all year round. your roasted vegetables looked great - one of my favourite melas to have on hand.

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  2. If you just let them go to seed and let them fall from the plant you end up with clumps. I like to pick the seeds and then just throw them around so they are a bit more spread out. You always miss a few and eventually stuff comes up every where. i have coriander in every garden bed but that is fine by me as it attracts good bugs, looks pretty and comes up at different times depending on the soil conditions which means that you get more of succession in your harvest.

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    1. Fiona,
      Yes that is what has happened with the amaranth. I can only grow the tropical sawtooth coriander, which goes all year round. I love the taste (and smell when watering or disturbed) but my hubby loathes it. I do have lots of plants that come up everywhere and pull them up when I need to use the space for something else... they add greens to my compost.

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  3. Great post. A cover crop may interfere with seed but in nature there will always be weeds and you will find that many plants will pop up again when it is time. I think too that any cover for the soil in a good one. I like cover / green crops of which I dig back in. Mulch is also a must for the soil as it keeps the latter moist and protected and also feeds the microorganisms as it breaks down. You can't go wrong! :) Love your shade cloth. Good luck with the avo, we just can't grow them at our place.

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    1. Frog,
      I hate to have to buy things in for the garden and have been trying to somehow provide my own mulch. I have been using the compost for that. I find I have to buy a bag of sugarcane mulch once or twice a year though.

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  4. I hope the avocado does well for you. I've never had much luck here. I don't think they like humidity or maybe it's just me. I'll have to be content watching your food forest flourish this year. I'm putting our vegie patch to bed for the Summer - too much else to do at the moment - but I'm missing it already.

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    1. Roz,
      You must be very busy no wonder you dont have time to grow veggies. I hope it is ok - it is much more humid here I think! I am looking forward to seeing your new garden.

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  5. I let everything go to seed, I save a little of the seeds, but most of it I scatter around the garden, then it just comes up when the conditions are right. I move the seedlings around to space out the plants appropriately. I tend to mulch, and over winter I have plenty of chick weed in the garden as a volunteer cover crop! I pull it out to make compost, but it keeps growing vigorously!

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    1. Liz,
      I like that! calling weeds volunteer cover crops :) My rocket seeds should be ready soon and then I will send them on along with some flower seeds.

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  6. Oh and shade is a problem for me too, I can see how a food forest would work, sounds like you're making good progress :)

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  7. I save some seeds (messy process with big paper bags of drying seed pods all over my laundry) but I often let the greens in my garden (at the moment giant red mustard, bok choi, borage, rocket, daikon radish, kale and parsley) go to seed. Eventually they seem to form a seed bed all over the place. The Italian parsley now sprouts from between the pavers and around the concrete near my back steps which is extremely convenient! "Herb weeds"! I like to think of much of my gardening as "editing" what comes up! Thanks for your post!

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    1. Oh I love the name herb weeds - I shall adopt it if I may?

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  8. An interesting read thank you. I think your little potting bench looks nice at the end of the path there in the photo. I think I would be pulling up all the amaranth seedlings for micro greens....had never thought of leeks for micro greens...and are you eating the micro carrots roots or the tops? I have a curry leaf tree that helps to give light shade to the herb/greens area. Aloha

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    1. Thanks stellamarina, yes it is more accessible and hubby thinks I might keep it tidier - haha. Yes they make great microgreens - I just cut the tops off. Alas the carrots were planted in a non draining microgreen tray and were flooded after the rain last night so I dumped them into the herb spiral this morning. I will have to see how they survive in the ground now. I got these seeds from the seed collection - they have some very interesting varieties. I have curry leaf trees in another section, but might move one into the herb spiral too as that is more convenient for harvesting.

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  9. That's a very interesting bay leaf tree....never seen one quite like it.
    A friend gifted me with two lovely avocados this week....it would be ideal if I could find a small/miniature tree since I love them so.. LOL.

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