Food forestry and forest gardening

The story of designing and establishing a temperate climate food forest in rural North Canterbury, New Zealand.

Using permaculture principals to work with and mimic nature, we are are guiding natural processes and directing the outcome with human intent. By selecting practical plants that serve multiple functions we build diversity in all layers of the biological system.

The general approach is to guide natural processes towards a productive ecosystem. By introducing human knowledge and planning we can encourage and accelerate the growth and development leading to beautiful, abundant and nutritious habitats.

Nitrogen fixing plant species suited to temperate climate such as North Canterbury New Zealand

Nitrogen fixing plant species suited to temperate climate such as North Canterbury New Zealand

Nitrogen is an essential element for plant growth. Certain plants have a useful ability to capture nitrogen from the atmosphere. This is often achieved through symbiotic relationship with fungi in the root zone. Being able access unlimited nitrogen allows these plants to grow quickly while also making some available to surrounding plants. The practical reality is that including nitrogen fixing plants of various shapes and sizes amongst other productive plantings improves overall health, vigour and fertility,  nitrogen  permaculture  plants  collection 
Plant propagation

Plant propagation

Details  There are many ways to obtain healthy plants for next to nothing. By propagating your own plants you not only save money but can introduce genetic variation by starting new plants from seed. If you are looking to replicate a natural ecosystem or create a biodiverse and healthy garden you are going to need a lot of plants. Many species can be cloned by taking cuttings or by layering.
Mulch, soil carbon and organic matter to improve moisture holding

Mulch, soil carbon and organic matter to improve moisture holding

Mulching is the practice or process of covering the soil with a thick layer of organic matter. This has a number of benefits depending on the mulch material and desired outcomes. Some of the advantages include preventing moisture evaporation, smothering weeds, feeding soil life and increasing soil carbon and water holding capacity.
Use as much mulch as you can get your hands on.
June 06, 2015  mulch  carbon 
Beneficial insects

Beneficial insects

Insects play an import role in the health of our gardens and the wider ecosystem. By creating a conducive environment we can encourage the tiny helpers to hang around. Insects prey on others, pollinate plants, are food for birds and generally add to the richness, complexity and diversity of a healthy ecosystem.  insects 
External inputs

External inputs

One of our aims is to eventually reduce or eliminate the need for external inputs for the orchard and garden. The goal is to keep fertility on site and make the most of that which enters naturally, such as rain and bird droppings. In the meantime, as we work towards this, there is always a use for biodegradable organic matter.
Commonly used materials include: sawdust from local joiner, seaweed from Kaikoura, rotten willow logs from the river, pine needles, organic grain straw, conway river lime and dried animal manures.
March 31, 2015
Seaweed for the garden

Seaweed for the garden

Kaikoura is a handy source of seaweed, a great resource for the garden. We try to get a trailer load when we head up that way.May 25, 2012
Polycultures

Polycultures

The other end of the spectrum from monocultures, polycultures are mixed plantings of various species that work together and may imitate naturally occurring collections.

Unlike monoculture, which is prone to pest and disease, depletes and degrades soil, polycultures are ecosystems in themselves, utilising the balancing and collaborative effects of nature.
November 13, 2011  Mixed planting  polyculture  permaculture