This post is a Food Forest Update on the food forest I put in last year. It includes various different tasks that were completed this weekend.
The first thing we did was to remove the electric string that runs around and through the entire food forest. When the string was originally put in, it was haphazardly installed with loops on almost every section. This makes it near impossible to troubleshoot the system for shorts or opens.
A proper design has only one end connected to the source and the other end just tied off and not connected to anything. This way you can put a tester on the end and you should have the proper voltage. If you don’t, you know to troubleshoot and the testers will help you locate the issues.
By having the string down, it allowed me to more easily perform the other tasks over the weekend, so I did not put the string back up until the end of the weekend when everything else was done.
Dam That Wash Away
During large rains there has been a wash away issue since the system was put in. Last month I dammed up some of the wash away area with logs. This weekend I completed this task by adding several more dams. The point of the dams is just to slow the fast moving water down. We also put a foot of oak leaves in the wash away area to help slow down the water. Hopefully some of the water will seep into the soil, but at the very least the dam will prevent erosion.
My Weed Forest
When I arrived at the farm late last week the food forest was more of a weed forest than anything else. The weeds were reaching heights of three to four feet. This was causing excessive shade on many of my smaller plants, so much so, that I actually lost quite a few plants. This weekend I took a pair of shears and carefully cut down all of the weeds.
Cutting the weeds down to the ground will give the plants that I want more sunlight. But the cut down weeds will also act as mulch. I just cut them down and laid them on the ground. Then I added some horse manure on top of the weeds, followed by a thick layer of hay.
This will fertilize the plants, keep the soil moist, and bring in lots of soil life that will greatly help the plants.
After the mulch breaks down a little, hopefully by the early fall, I will add some white clover seed to fill in any empty spaces. The clover will act as a living mulch and will also add nitrogen to the soil.
Plants Planted and Labeled
The picture below titled “Food Forest Update – East Half” shows the layout of half the food forest. All of the plants that I put in are mapped this way so if I lose a label I still know exactly what each plant is.
I planted a couple of dozen more plants this weekend. Mostly herbaceous and vine plants and a few small shrubs. Next to many of the larger trees I added a comfrey plant to bring nutrients up to the level the trees can use them.
After the plants were in the ground, I went through and made sure everything had a label. I used the metal impression labels in the food forest. On the top line I have the common name, then I have the Latin name, and below that I have the year the plant was added to the food forest. At the very end of the tag is a number that corresponds to the location in the food forest.
There is a strawberry tree in the food forest that is not supposed to survive below zone 7. The farm is in zone 6. The tree actually survived last winter even though we had a pretty harsh winter.
To help it survive going forward, we added some large rocks around it to act as a heat sink. This should form a micro climate to keep the plant a little warmer. The way it works is the rocks absorb the heat from the sun during the day, which keeps the area warmer than the surrounding area after the sun goes down.
To assist with the micro climate, the rocks are placed in a way to keep frost pockets away from the plant.
Check out our YouTube video below titled Food Forest Update.
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