Episode-1251- Food Forest Questions and Answers – Part One — 24 Comments

  1. In a backyard situation, is the insect issue a problem that can’t really be dealt with by spacing? It makes sense what you talk about by basically controlling pest problems with different plantings between trees.

    I have planted 25 trees in our backyard somewhat based on the ideas laid out at (he was in one of Lawton’s videos). I have a variety of apples, plums, cherries, peaches, and pears, but I put them in rows of each type. The rows are my pseudo-swales. Our backyard has a grade going down the mountain, so I don’t really need to dig to control the water as much as setup berms to trap it and direct it.

    Anyway, my thinking at the time was pollination. Certain apples pollinate better with other varieties, and from what I was reading, you didn’t want your pollinators spread too far from each other, or chances are greatly reduced that the same bug would find the right match. So my thought was to simply have all the apples together, all the plums together, etc. With the heavy pruning they will get, the trees, I think, will have a smaller number of blooms, making the pollination situation a bit more vital. Tree spacing in each row is only 4 feet, and 6 feet between the rows.

    In that situation is pest problems really avoidable?

  2. Jack, do you have an opinion or basic guidelines about what trees work best from seeds and which should be planted as seedlings? I’d benefit from a brief discussion (maybe a TSP video) that goes over the best way to raise seedlings to fit into a system like this. I feel like a lot of the videos I find, people are dumping tons of miracle grow into their pots.

    Also (and I should have sent in a question to this effect….), how would you suggest a person integrate swales AND Holzer style Hugelkulture (the tall type!) into a food forest. If you have the space for it, what are some design guidelines or ideas for setting swales and HK up so that they work together. I’ve heard Wheaton say that HK should NOT be set on contour. Any insight into this?

    Excellent show, btw. I’ll be listening to this one again for sure.

    • Sorry, should have added. Wheaton always says, “add texture to the landscape,” Could you expand on that at all? Usually it seems like he’s talking specifically HK, but I’m sure there’s more to it than just that!

  3. I knew I forgot about commenting on the seed thing. Black Locust seeds. Dear god. I bought I think a pack of 100 and I way underestimated their germination speed/ratio. Probably no less than 80 of them germinated, and they germinated within 4 days of planting them. I wish I knew that because i planted a bunch of seeds in each spot and ended up having to cut out a bunch of good trees, oh well.

    I just bought a pack of 1000 on Amazon for 20 bucks and will be starting about a million of these guys here soon. So worth it. The Aunt went and picked mimosa seeds for us so we’ll be doing alot of those. (But I’m thinking about building them into a grazing system where they can be browsed by animals, rather than cutting back).

    • Edible Food Forests by Dave Jacke and Eric Toensmeier has some pretty amazing tables in the back 1/3 of book 2 in the series. I don’t remember a table of alleopathic species, but black walnut is specifically listed as alleopathic and there is a table of plants in the book that will tolerate being planted near it. If you are interested in planting black walnut and want that list I would be happy to provide it to you. Email me at

    • Apparently some pines are alleopathic as well. I searched about this awhile back online and found various resources. I saw the pine thing on Youtube and on

  4. Great podcast. In my orchard, have some 80 pecans. Need to clip back the dead limbs and plant some similar edibles as Jack noted. The problems I have other than irrigation needs are squirrels and deer and keeping them away from my orchard.

  5. Thanks for answering my question. It was also great to hear you talk about how swales are primarily used to get trees started. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say or write that. Thanks.

  6. Caraganas are a good shrub to use in colder climates, they are a nitrogen-fixer legume and frost hardy to zone 2. The seeds are edible for humans and apparently good for feeding animals also (see first link). My mom planted them as hedge/windbreak in what was basically an alkali flat in the south central Colorado desert (5a, constant wind, direct sun, alkaline silty soil) in the 1980’s and they have thrived. Bumblebees love caragana flowers.

    • Awe Siberian Pea shrub. Heard some feed them to chickens and others say their chickens won’t touch them. Not sure if that is picky chickens, chickens that are not hungry enough or different strains of Caraganas with different flavors. We are going to even grow a bit of that here though it likely won’t handle our heat very well. We shall see.

      On the chicken thing it might be breed specific. For instance our layers LOVE sprouted black oil sunflower, our meat birds won’t touch it.

  7. Really enjoyed this. Ya, Ive seen the listed video and several others on Miracle Farm. Fantastic! They have a kick-starter program to produce a dvd on food forests and such.

    The interesting thing is, the guy doesn’t prune his trees. He “trains them” by bending the limbs and top down to form bows, thereby reducing their height. Ive never heard of that before, but it makes sense. Looking forward to the next installment. Cheers!

    • Now that you say that I think I have seen it in orchards and such before just didn’t realize that is what it was. I think in that Eden Garden movie if you look at that guys trees that must be what he is doing.

    • That “tree branch bending” technique is called espalier. It’s pretty awesome and could definitely be used in permaculture for living fences, fedges, etc.

  8. So glad Jack mentioned Miracle Farms and shared a link .. only thing is he said about a dozen time “this orchard in british columbia” but it’s in QUEBEC!

  9. i’ve never used the paid app you mentioned for mapping out the sun aspect on a property (so, i can’t speak to the features), but here’s a free alternative that i have used:

  10. I’m so looking forward to part 2 of this podcast….especially since you talked about answering my specific questions at the end 🙂

  11. Funny comment about rain and your events. Remember, if its not rainin’ your not trainin’.

  12. I plan on planting a food forest with mostly cuttings, and a couple transplants. Do you foresee any potential problems with the fruit and nut tree cuttings? VS starting all trees from seeds.