Episode-1246- Food Forestry and How it Actually Works

From Nov. 21st to Nov. 23rd this month we are running an earthworks workshop, I think we still have two spots by the way for anyone that wants to come.  You can find out about that here.

During this workshop we are putting in the main frame earth works for about .75 acres of food forest.  That is just the beginning though.  Main planting will occur in the spring.  At that time about 40 long term productive trees, lots of bushes and shrubs, some climbers and about 280 support trees will be planted.

I talk about food forests often and point to work by people like Geoff Lawton as to how they work and frankly to show that they work.  I do my best but I think many don’t really get the how and less get the why.  Today’s show is an attempt to communicate that better than I have in the past.

To me this might be the ultimate survival strategy for mankind by the way.  There is nothing that we know of on planet earth with the productivity and sustainability of a forest.  A food forest is simply a guided version of that blueprint that nature has used since long before we existed.

Join Me Today As I Discuss…

  • My list of 40 productive trees for this one small project
  • What is the 7 layer system, how does it function
  • What is a support tree, why so many, what do they really do
  • Why does a forest build soil faster than a prairie even one that is well managed
  • How does man “accelerate a natural cycle” and why
  • How do we then “slow down that same cycle” and why
  • What needs can be met with a managed forest, more like what can’t
  • How small can these systems really be, how large could they become

Resources for today’s show…

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49 Responses to Episode-1246- Food Forestry and How it Actually Works

  1. Matthew N Gooseneck

    I look so forward to permaculture episodes…

  2. Mental illness, Amerikan society? No sir, fuckin lazy yes but there those who are mentally ill with more sense than modern Amerika, but they have an actual illness. Amerika is lazy mentally as well as physically, please don’t confuse this with an actual illness. I believe you meant it theoretically, though I had to say something.

    • Modern Survival

      You are confusing institutional level mental illness with a mass delusion.

      Yea dude we are mentally ill as a society as a whole. Laziness can’t be used to explain it all. There are plenty of people in America that work there asses off, on and off the job. Many of these people are still delusional.

      You can only use laziness to describe a limited segment of society. For every lazy ass I will show you 4-5 busting their asses.

      • And it isn’t even real laziness but a form of depression from feeling systematically powerless or incompetent. When schools and the rest of society keeps dumbing each other down with vapid entertainment, brain-draining school, combative xenophobia rampant, disinformation everywhere, economic terrorism globally ruining lives, too much more, this will happen.

    • More attacking the symptoms but not the source here. Read ‘Year 501’ by Noam Chomsky, ‘Shock Doctrine’ by Naomi Klein, and ‘Confessions of an Economic Hitman’ by John Perkins. Also look for youtube users wind0wninja and matrixcutter to see the collective delusion in place. I have the ATG writings of the Informer around and plan on getting an archive posted somewhere as someone nuked the site….http://www.thinkorbebeaten.com

      “Buckle up Dorothy, cuz Kansas is goin’ bye-bye!”

  3. Jared Jeanotte

    Great show today. Can wait for farmstead meat smith tomorrow. That guy is really knowledgeable.

  4. .
    Jack,
    This is one of your best episodes!
    Please take the last 10-15 minutes (stress/sick) and make a video out of it.
    You just echoed a conversation I had with my wife -soooo true.
    Thank you for all you do!
    My wife and I grew a garden this year with ZERO watering thanks to you.
    Looking forward to our food forest,ponds, etc.
    Love ya brother.

  5. Jack,

    Last year I dug out my raised beds and filled them with tree trunks then covered them with dirt and raised the beds another 10 inches. It is incredible the change in fertility I have seen. Not to toot my own horn, but if anyone cares to see the change in my garden, I have before and after pictures on my blog, which I started mostly to document my garden – just click on my name.

    I just posted Fall 2013 pictures to compare with the pictures of last year and even with the pictures of my barren yard in 2008. I’m amazed at the transformation and eating great.

    One thing I did not hear you mention that you may want to consider: Pink Lady apple trees have very low chill hours and cross pollinate well with Gala. The other bush/tree that I did not hear in your list but are a delicious fruit are figs.

    Another tip, if you will, the loofa vine attracts bees like crazy and the sponges are multi-purpose. It dies in winter and creates great bio mass.

    • Modern Survival

      Figs will go in many other locations, we have three already here and frankly that is a lot of figs. But yea more are going to go in, mostly in the smaller spaces.

      Pink Lady might be a good addition, we actually have a dwarf of that cultivar in our woody bed area. You made me realize something I deffinitely need to work in though, I have no crab apples in my design, for shame! Got to fix that!

      • The Portuguese bar two blocks from me has some fig trees and the owner’s son is aware of aquaponics. There is a school project off 1/9 somewhere nearby.

    • Modern Survival

      Awesome stuff. Wood core beds are simply amazing when you think about the simplicity of them.

    • Very cool site. What’s so awesome is you’re doing it in a backyard suburban type of thing. Its funny how us “rural” folks can be so easily impressed with the small space permaculture. Obviously I could to that as well (and should), but I think what happens is you feel compelled to spread out a bit instead of making sure you use your space as wisely as possible.

      Figs are definitely over the top. I laughed reading jack’s 3 figs and saying “that is a lot of figs”. Yeah no shit hahaha. Man what a great plant. We planted one in the spring and the darn thing is over 6 foot tall now and we ate a few figs off of it on its first year… Crazy. Next year I can’t wait. We just bought another fig as well.

    • Where are you located?

      • I’m in Frisco, TX. My garden is an enclosed area of 15′ by 32′, mostly to keep the dog out. I also have about 15 young trees around the house (2 plumbs, 3 apples, 2 peaches, 1 apricots, 1 pluots, and 2 lemons, 2 tangerines, 2 fig bushes). The citrus tree are an experiment, but I have managed to keep them alive for two winters. One lemon, I even built a green house around it and planted it on the ground. Everything is on the south side of the house.

        Prior to listening to Jack, I would have thought it sacrilege to plant so much in so little space, but now I see that diversity of plants creates diversity of predators. I don’t fertilize or use insecticides.

    • Jack, what’ll you do with crabapples? I have a tree that is beautiful and produces like crazy…. but what do you with the crabapples?

      • Modern Survival

        Well some do jelly, I like to add them to ciders, meads and beers.

        The main reason I include them in designs though is for pollination. Nothing in the apple world flowers the way they do. Bees love them and it gives you great cross pollination insurance and beautiful tree.

        Some craps are also a lot more palatable then others by the way. Everest is one, so is Golden Raindrops. Dolgo and Centennial are also pretty good. Some are a lot more tart, hard, etc then others.

        These varieties all produce fruit that is 1-2 inches in size where as many wild crabs produce fruit in the 1/4th to 1/2 inch range.

      • Robert Selzler

        My wife makes an excellent crabapple jelly, which my kids love. It’s a bit sweet for my taste. It kind of reminds me of cranberry sauce, but thicker.

  6. Thanks Jack,

    Been waiting for this one ever since you came back from Montana this past summer. I am currently reading Dave Jackie’s book ‘Edible Forest Gardens’. Love it. I want to do this on my land.

  7. Honey Berry is in the honey suckle family so there is another fruit producing support species.

    • Modern Survival

      Well not sure about that. French Honeysuckle is the type that fixes nitrogen, not all members of the family. They are related though, so I checked into it but can’t find any claim at all that Honey Berry Fixes Nitrogen. Great plant but might be marginal in our summers if we don’t create a micro climate for it. I may try it because it intrigues me but I don’t think it is a nitrogen fixer. Goumi and Sea Berry do though. Goumi I MIGHT be able to pull off, I think it is unfortunately too hot here for Sea Berry.

      • Youtube user ‘growingyourgreens’ mentioned Goumi and has or had one in his garden plan. He is another one ripe for these concepts and another resource for plant ideas and information. I learned a lot from him.

  8. @Jose Garcia Planted my first loofa vines this year, just a couple. Amazing how well they did. Does seem to need a long growing season. When my other viney plants died out from powdery mildew and many many squash beetles, they kept on going. When most plants were wilting in the triple digit heat they spread everywhere, covering a wall of our house, up to the roof, across a chain link fence, up a tree. Yellow blooms everywhere. Bees loves those blossoms. It is still blooming. Lots of fruit, still growing. My crepe myrtle tree is covered with what looks like green clubs. My grandkids and their friends are looking forward to a “sponge day” where they can peel and make sponges.

    • When I grew mine two seasons ago, I planted them mid-April, directly in the soil. One little plant covered an entire side of the fence and I had to keep on pruning it. The sponges get a little moldy around winter, but that’s when they are ripe for peeling. I just soaked them in a bucket with warm water for five minutes to remove the husk. Then I let them sit in a water and chlorine solution for a few minutes to remove some of the mold. Probably, if I had cut the loofa when they are still green and let them hang dry in the shade, there would be no mold. Either way the sponges worked great to clean floors, grills, start fire (a little stinky), etc…

    • Baking soda is a great thing to have for fungal problems. Even cured a man of lung tumors in Italy. Cancer has many natural causes and related cures. Tumors are a reaction to a problem and baking soda is a great resource for inital pH management and antimicrobial/antifungal to have around while the trigger is determined and remedied.

    • Thanks Thomas, I did use a baking soda spray, which seemed to help for a few days. It seems to work for the most part. Not so helpful with the squash beetle invasion.

  9. Great episode Jack! Something for me to plan on adding to my homestead when I get it….

  10. Great show! Food forests really intrigue me and I can’t wait to see how yours turns out. I also look forward to the food forests questions show you mentioned.

  11. Jack,
    When you were talking about the pine trees and beetle/fungus problem. Who planted the trees that way? Does this problem exist everywhere or only in areas where someone has created mono-cultures? Is this a man-made problem or is this just nature doing what nature does?
    I hear commercials all the time about ash beetles and not moving wood to other locations, but I don’t know many details.

    • Modern Survival

      It is MOSTLY a problem with monocrops or waked out ratios.

      Pines is mainly a monocrop issue. Pine stands of almost 100% pine have been created by intention and by mismanagement both. Some were planted that way, others are a direct response to clear cutting and not doing any diverse replanting.

      Ash is more a ratio issue. Ash became en-vogue years ago as a big, fast growing, beautiful tree. So people planted it in neighborhoods, parks, schools, etc. This isn’t a monocrop but the ratio of Ash to other species is just out of whack.

      Now many blame the beetle and the borer and wants to save the trees which we can’t and probably shouldn’t do. This though is even not a macro enough view.

      On top of this we have literally destroyed forest ecosystems wholesale across the planet. The entire system is sick and nature is doing what nature does, decomposing the sick, the dead and the dying.

      The solution is massive replanting of diverse and stable eco systems. Also a shift in understanding.

      Pine – short term pioneer, life should be in natural systems 15-50 years in most climates.

      Ash – mid term bio mass accumulator. Life should be 30-60 years in most natural systems.

      Those numbers are off the top of my head but close and apply to the trees that survive the first few years and mature. For each that does in a natural system a dozen will die, be eaten, be trampled, be out competed, etc.

      The pine is a pioneer it goes out and grows where no other trees will. It moves alkaline soil to the acidic end of things. Blocks wind, accumulates biomass, supports micorbes. In spots oaks, hickories, etc that are long term over story begin to grow. In the end forests are dominated by long term hardwoods and there are stands of pine here and there.

      Ash is a mid term tree, there are not now and never were any long term massive stands of mostly ash trees. They grow in pockets and places, they grow fast, accumulate massive biomass and build soil in their leaf drops. The total number of mature ash will decline over time.

      In the end there will be ash, pine, gums, etc but they are not supposed to be the main over story of a mature forest, they are designed with short life cycles in the world or tree life expectancy.

      They don’t go away, they occupy niches, extend forest, repair natural and unnatural disturbance. What we have done by planting so many of one species is whack out the ratios. Nature is not going to let us do that long term.

      • Pine is an underutilized resource too. Hydrocarbons from the sap alone can have uses not commonly known. The guy out on Vermont can have a green goldmine there waiting for him to play with. Get some guilds up, even mushroom cultivation under the trees like I saw in this vid series on alleycropping and agriforestry. Many are primed for permaculture and just don’t know it.

      • Alliopathic medicine principles can be contagious. They fight the symptoms but not the cause, nor find the cure.

      • I also find the lack of talk on hemp particularly intriguing as it has many uses that apply here. Nitrogen fixation, and the NUMEROUS yields, are not to be taken lightly. The cartels saw it as such a threat to later illegalize it to preserve their unsustainable industries.

        • Modern Survival

          What would be the point of me telling people how awesome something they can’t by law grow be?

          Hemp is a great plant, it should be legal but let me say again much of the miracle plant BS around it is just that, BS. Hemp again is grown in many nations in very large quantities legally including Canada. It will not save the world and sitting around wishing you could grow it is pointless.

      • Also we need to cover the effects of what is reported to be in chemtrails. This is not ‘tinfoil’ but a real danger. See the clips of trees in Mendicino Park with their bark shorn off and the inner bark aluminized. Monsanto has ‘aluminum-resistant’ GMO products which is also telling. Add to that the information on the Morgellons Exposed site to consider. Rosalind Peterson if I remember the name correctly is a great resource.

        There ARE weaponized organisms and chemicals at play in the world. Observe and interact right? Some remedy MUST be sought or all this will be for naught!

  12. I definitely think the Cow thing for clearing forests is a good idea. I’m going to look at using some goats to do some of it. I have done it by hand and have cleared almost half an acre of very very dense understory. Lots and lots of work, but you know, I wanted to clear it by hand and put some serious blood sweat (no tears) in my property.

    My intention on keeping a food forest understory clear from some of the “invasive” local plants, is planting stuff that is going to provide that function. We have intense edge species, so the competition is extremely serious, that just means I need to plant densely the stuff that I want, or some sort of support species that I can keep adding in. (Mimosas for example).

    Oh I’ll tell you what you get from grass. A PAIN IN THE FING ASS. It is extremely hard to remove once really established and removing to put a garden (by hand) is quite some work. I will admit though the only reason I don’t go scorch earth on it is so I can have pastured animals.

  13. Awesome show, Jack! I, too, LOVE the permaculture episodes. They get me so pumped up and empowered.

    One thing I had to mention is that I appreciate the comment you made on the Philippines’ typhoon because it completely validated what I was thinking. I was looking at pictures of the damage yesterday and how towns were completely leveled. I wondered what the devastation would look like if there were food forests there. Would it have been as bad? I’m not sure, but I would like to think the damage would be less and there would have been an instant supply of food, medicine, and building materials to help rebuild houses and other structures. Anyways, when I had that thought, I figured I had been listening too much to your shows (although I don’t think that is a bad thing at all) and then you made the comment in this food forest show about the Philipine typhoon damage. Looks like I’m tuned into your brain wavelength 🙂

    • Someone from the Philippines contacted me for financial help but I keep trying to direct her to resources to watch and work with so she can help others. Money only works in a ‘stable’ monetary system, not post-disaster…

  14. Regarding crab apples I can recommend Crab Apple “Jack Humm” good pollinator and a useful addition for cider production Also would suit Texas as it is low chill variety
    Just my 0.02c
    Cheers

  15. Could someone post the subject line for questions for the followup show? That would save me the time of bouncing around the podcast looking for it again.

  16. McPermculture Guy you say? You found him. Idon’t just say this. I literallyy cannot NOT do it anymore. My whole being is driven and am in contact with Nick Burtner. Id like to focus on urban environments to not only get small plots and areas working but walls, rooftops, and rooms.

    The permaculture principles are what I have been looking for for a straight-up business consultancy. GTD is a specific application that deserves a deep comparitive analysis, which I shall do when I can.

  17. New Jersey needs this badly and I know many spots locally that are IDEAL for this. Not only that, there is a post-Sandy fund that Adm. Obama has put in where one can form hugelbeds and food forests to handle the water intake and even as windscreens, and for dune or beach reclamation/security.

    This territory/state is a goldmine. A diamond in the rough.

  18. Holy smokes, just discovered your podcast from (i think it was) a recent interview you did with Scott Mann @ The Permaculture Paaahhdcast.. This episode is the best argument for food forestry and not doing things the same because that’s what society had been conditioned to do that i have heard, ever.

    I felt like i was listening to a neighbor dissecting plotholes in Starwars in the garage over beers. I am excited that you’ve got umpteen million episodes to listen to, ha!