Establishing a Food Forest DVD Review

Establishing a Food Forest DVD Review

Establishing a Food Forest DVD Review

This post is titled Establishing a Food Forest DVD Review. Wednesday night I watched the DVD “Establishing a Food Forest” which was presented by Geoff Lawton.  This is at least the third time I have watched this 80-minute DVD and every time I watch it I still pick up something new.

Food Forest Definition

Establishing a Food Forest DVD Review

Establishing a Food Forest DVD Review

Before I get into the review of the DVD, lets define Food Forest.  On Wikipedia, the term Food Forest re-directs to Forest Gardening.  Here is Wikipedia’s definition of Forest Gardening:

“Forest gardening is a low-maintenance sustainable plant-based food production and agroforestry system based on woodland ecosystems, incorporating fruit and nut trees, shrubs, herbs, vines and perennial vegetables which have yields directly useful to humans. Making use of companion planting, these can be intermixed to grow in a succession of layers, to build a woodland habitat.”

DVD Overview

The DVD starts out with classroom lecture going over what a food forest is and how to design one.  They go into looking at patterns of existing forests and the layers of a forest.  The layers as described by Geoff are; canopy, understory, shrub, herbaceous, ground cover, vine/climbers, and root yield.  He does go into a few additional layers that are specific to the tropics.

Many of these layers are support species planted for the future end results.  He talks about support species as follows:

  • Ground cover – hundreds of thousands of nitrogen fixers per acre that will only survive for 6 months. This could be clover or other nitrogen fixing ground cover.
  • Herbaceous / bush layer – tens of thousands of nitrogen fixers per acre that will only survive for 4 to 5 years. Examples are certain legumes and peas.
  • Understory layer – thousands of small trees that fix nitrogen that will survive 10 to 15 years.
  • Canopy – hundreds of trees that will go full term.
  • The above are all support species used just to fix the soil with nitrogen and other nutrients and provide mulch through chop and drop. Mixed in with all of the above will be our fruit and nut trees.
  • In the beginning the mix will be 90/10. 90% of mass is support species and 10% is our fruit trees.  As time goes on we end up with 10% of mass is support species and 90% is our fruit trees.  This happens as the fruit trees get larger and the support species die out.
  • The support species is coppiced, pollarded, and chop & dropped. This happens during the wet season, which is when there is more rainfall than evaporation.
Establishing a Food Forest DVD Review

Establishing a Food Forest DVD Review

After the classroom portion of the DVD, Geoff goes to the field and plants a food forest into a swale at the Permaculture Research Institute (PRI).  He demonstrates mixing a nitrogen fixing inoculant with some legumes (cowpea and lupin).  He shows a large variety of plants that they are putting in, how to put them in and why.

He then goes back to that same swale after 3 months and gives you a tour, shows the progress and explains what is going on.  He talks about too many grass hoppers not being a grass hopper problem but a deficiency in Turkeys.  He talks about too many slugs/snails not being a slug/snail issue but a deficiency in ducks.  He also demonstrates “feed the forest” by doing some chop and drop.

He shows fungus being the “teeth” of the forest and explains how the fungus is breaking down the dead plant life to feed the living.  He shows how chickens help establish a food forest and also explains how a food forest is low maintenance once established.

He shows a kitchen garden that has over 400 species of plants in it.  He goes on to explain how all of the diversity confuses the pest and how they make climates attractive to predator insects to predate on those confused pests.

My thoughts on this DVD are that it is a wonderful learning resource and I wouldn’t understand why anyone that likes gardening doesn’t want to put in a food forest after watching this DVD.  It is also one of the reasons I put a food forest in last year and will put more in going forward.  It is a wonderful concept and I enjoy the thought of high yield and low maintenance in the future.

Extras

In addition to the 80-minute main feature, there are five clips in the bonus section of the DVD:

  • 30-Year-Old Food Forest – 10-minute video walk through of a 30-year-old food forest in Thailand. Most of the plants in this clip are tropical and likely wouldn’t grow in temperate climate North America.
  • 300-Year-Old Food Forest – a 6-minute video walk through of a 300-year-old food forest in Hanoi.
  • 2000-Year-Old Food Forest – a 4+ minute video walk through of a 2000-year-old food forest in Morocco. This video has many fruits that do grow in North America.
  • Permaculture World Wide – a 4+ minute video about how to grow permaculture plants world wide and how to raise funds to do so.
  • Harvesting Water DVD – This is the trailer for another of Geoff’s videos “Harvesting Water DVD”

About Geoff:

According to Wikipedia: “Geoff Lawton is a permaculture consultant, designer and teacher. Since 1995 he has specialized in permaculture education, design, implementation, system establishment, administration and community development.”

He is Managing Director of The Permaculture Research Institute – www.permaculturenews.org. and is the go-to practicing expert on anything permaculture.

 

To Buy the DVD:

A downloadable copy of the DVD can be bought at:

permaculturenews.org/product-category/digital-downloads/

 

The physical DVD can be bought at:

www.ecofilms.com.au/store/

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Nanking Bush Cherry Plant Information | Unique Edible Plants

Nanking Bush Cherry Plant Information | Unique Edible Plants

This post provides Nanking Bush Cherry Plant Information | Unique Edible Plants.  The Nanking Bush Cherry, Prunus tomentosa, is another unique edible plant, in bush form, that is showy in the spring with flowers and in the summer with the bright red cherries clinging closely to the branches.  It can be used as an ornamental, fruit producing shrub or as a wind break in a hedge row.

Nanking Bush Cherry Plant Information | Unique Edible Plants Nanking Cherry flower

Nanking Bush Cherry Plant Information | Unique Edible Plants

In mid-Spring the bush produces white or pink flowers that are fragrant and attract beneficial insects.  They are partially self-pollinating, but do better with another variety around.

The red fruit is sweet and tart and taste like a cherry with a pit in the center.  Since there are not a lot of named varieties in the US and most are propagated by seed, the flavors of the fruit seem to vary greatly. You can also find some plants online that have yellow or pink fruit, as I just did (and purchased.)

The fruit is very close to the stem on a very short stalk.  The stalk usually stays on the branch leaving an opening on the fruit that will cause it to leak juice.  This causes the fruit to not store well.  The fruit can be used for fresh eating, dried fruit, fruit leather, preserves, jams, jellies pies, tarts, and fruit juice.

Nanking Bush Cherry Plant Information | Unique Edible Plants nanking cherry berry

Nanking Bush Cherry Plant Information | Unique Edible Plants

In a good year it can provide yields of up to 15 pounds per bush.  The fruit is harvested in early to mid-summer depending on your location.  Harvest the fruit when it is fully colored and juicy.  The fruit that I have seen are about half the size of the cherries sold in stores.

The leaves are simple leaves that are obovate to elliptic with unequally toothed margins, dull dark green color and downy hair on the underside.

The Nanking Cherry (Prunus tomentosa) is a deciduous shrub that has a USDA hardiness zone of 2-7.  It will grow to be 5-10 foot in height and width, prefers full sun but will tolerate a little shade and prefers neutral to slightly acidic soil. It was introduced in the US in 1892.

In the spring of 2014 I bought 10 seedlings and planed 4 in my Pasadena house and the rest on the farm.  This summer I had two of the plants at the Pasadena house produce.  Hopefully all of the plants will produce next year.

Propagation

Propagation is done by seeds, layering, and cuttings.  For seeds, clean the pulp off the pit and stratify for 2-3 months.  Laying involves burying a portion of the tip or mid branch until it roots and then cutting it away from the main plant. Cuttings can be done with hard wood in the fall/winter or soft wood in the spring.  This summer I had a 75% success rate with softwood cuttings in a mist bed.

Recipe

Maple Whisky & Nanking Cherry Barbecue Sauce

Purchase Nanking Cherry plants at Great Escape Nursery

(Recipe from http://dinnerwithjulie.com/2011/08/16/grilled-ribs-nanking-cherry-recipe/)

8 cups Nanking cherries, washed and stemmed
½ cup sugar
½ tsp ground ginger
1 tsp onion powder
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp mustard powder (or 1 Tbsp grainy mustard)
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp black pepper
1 cup brown sugar
1 ½ cups maple whiskey (from Highwood Distillers in Alberta)

In a large saucepan combine cherries and sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until cherries have given up their juice. Remove from heat and push through a sieve to remove skins and pits. Return cherry juice to saucepan over medium heat, add all the dry ingredients, stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and add 1 cup maple whiskey. Continue to simmer until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the final 1/2 cup whiskey. Cool and refrigerate in a sealed container.

If you like this blog post and want to find out more about Great Escape Farms please go to https://greatescapefarms.com/ Also, sign up for our email list at the bottom of the linked page.

Purchase Nanking Cherry plants at Great Escape Nursery

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50% off Plants at Home Depot

50% off Plants at Home Depot

If you are in the market for some cheap plants, head on over to Home Depot.  Most of their trees, shrubs and perennials are 50% off.  Yesterday I bought a $50 nectarine tree for $25 at the Pasadena, MD Home Depot.  The Pasadena store is pretty picked over on fruit trees right now.

This morning on my way into work I stopped by the Columbia, MD home depot.  They have about a dozen 4 in 1 apple trees for around $30.00 after the discount.  A 4 in 1 apple is four different types of apple trees grafted onto one trunk.  This is a great sale for a plant like this.

If this is something you are interested in, I’d recommend going today because they will likely all go by the end of the weekend.

If you like this blog post and want to find out more about Great Escape Farms please go to https://greatescapefarms.com/ Also, sign up for our email list at the bottom of the linked page.

Autumn Olive Tree Facts and Propagation at Great Escape Farms

Autumn Olive Tree Facts and Propagation at Great Escape Farms

Autumn Olive Tree Facts and Propagation

This article provide information on Autumn Olive Tree Facts and Propagation. This tree or bush bears edible fruit and is a nitrogen fixer. Autumn-Olive (elaegnus umbellate) also known as Autumn-Berry, is a deciduous shrub that can grow into a small multi-trunked tree reaching as high as 20 feet. The leaves are a grayish green and looks as though it has scales on the bottom of the leaves. The leaves are about three inches long and very narrow measuring only about one inch wide.  It is often used in forest garden design to assist in repairing soil as the food forest garden matures.

The Autumn Olive Tree Facts and Propagation

Autumn Olive Tree Facts and Propagation

It is a drought tolerant plant that can grow in full sun or partial shade. It does prefer well drained soil and does well on the edges of forests, hillsides, and abandoned fields. Birds like the fruit and propagate the seeds. It is a very hardy plant and is usually not bothered by deer. Some view Autumn Olive as a noxious invasive weed.

Forest Garden Design

Autumn olive is one of the few non-legume plants that fixes nitrogen in the soil. This is accomplished with the assistance of a certain bacteria called Frankia. This allows it to be a pioneer plant to grow where others can’t and begin to repair the land and soil making it a perfect plant in a Forest Garden Design.

Autumn Olive Fruit

Autumn Olive has tiny flowers in the spring that give way to berry fruit in the late summer and early fall. The flowers are fragrant and the plants are self-fertile. I have plants that bear red berries and plants that produce gold berries on my farm (both pictured on this post). The fruit is astringent (makes your mouth pucker) but sweet.   As they sit on the bush they get softer, sweeter, and less astringent. The birds and small mammals like the berries as well, so don’t wait to long to harvest. A single bush can produce 20 to 70 pounds of fruit.

Autumn Olive Tree Facts and Propagation

Autumn Olive Tree Facts and Propagation

The fruit contains the carotenoid lycopene, which is several times higher than that of tomatoes. The fruit does contain seeds and it has been said that the seeds are chewable, but I have just eaten the flesh and spit the seeds out. I’ll have to try chewing them sometime and see what they are like.

Autumn Olive berries can be eaten right off the bush. They can also be used in jams, pies, fruit leathers, other deserts and juices. They store well frozen once cleaned.

Autumn olive is native to Asia and was introduced to North America in early to mid 1800s. It is hardy down to USDA zone 3 can be found growing in southern Canada and the majority of the United States.

I bought one of my Autumn Olives from RainTreeNursery.com and had good luck with them. Autumn Olive is one of the plants I will have for sale in the Great Escape Nursery store in 2016 or 2017.

Purchase Autumn Olive at Great Escape Nursery