The Food Forest: Its Humble Beginnings

We are setting about creating a sub-tropical food forest on the sloping western end of the house paddock. We have a long way to go!

Kevin has weed-whacked huge swaths of kikuyu and other weeds from the grassy areas of the house paddock. I have raked all this precious treasure into piles, and have moved it to cover the first part of what we hope will become our much-longed-for food forest. In mulching, we have two main aims:

1) Stifle the growth of kikuyu and other weeds in the mulched area.

2) Add organic matter to improve soil quality and drainage. (The drainage part is very important on our clay soil.)

Food forest area before we planted the tropical apricots

At the downhill edge of the food forest area, we have already planted two passionfruit vines. These were a Christmas gift from my parents. Dad helped us plant them back in the Summer. They have a nice wooden frame to climb over. I have since started more passionfruit vines from seed. We plan to plant at least one of these in the food forest, so that it can climb up the Australian frangipani that is already growing in the area.

Young tropical apricot tree

There are a few other trees already established in the food forest area. We plan to use these as nurse trees to provide a bit of shelter for our new transplants. Today, we planted two tropical apricots in what we hope are relatively sheltered positions downslope from established trees. Kevin dug big holes, and we created mounds of lots of organic matter to plant the trees in. We hope that the mounds will help with drainage!

We plan to continue intensive mulching of this area, in order to maintain some control over weeds while we establish the first part of our food forest. We already have various plants and trees ready for planting (both trees and under-story plants), so stay tuned for further developments! We are very excited about this project.

Guess which part has the mulch, and which doesn’t…

As well as the food-forest plants themselves, we plan to establish a bamboo hedge along the edge of the house paddock — using non-invasive bamboo varieties, of course! In spring, we hope to plant some giant bamboo, as well as a smaller variety. Purposes of the bamboo hedge:

1) To provide us with a supply of poles and stakes of various thicknesses

2) To shelter the food forest and house from wind and chill air coming down the hill

3) To create a weed barrier between the pasture and the food forest

We imagine that the food forest will take shape slowly, as we obtain suitable plants, and they grow to fill the space. This is the very humble beginning!

8 Responses to “The Food Forest: Its Humble Beginnings”

  1. Sara says:

    Hi Rebecca,

    You obviously have everything well planned out. You sound very organised.

    Sara from farmingfriends in the UK

  2. Christopher says:

    Hi Guys

    Good luck with the food forest!

    My German friend has a place near Waipu, and he has tried to do the same. He has apples, feijoas, pears, peaches, figs, blueberries, and lots of bananas.

    Guess what the possums love?

    He’s now thinking about enclosing his food tree areas in possum proof fencing.

    I am currently eating my way through a large bunch of bananas that he grew. Very yummy – home grown bananas 🙂


  3. Kevin says:

    I’m pretty good at trapping the possies. I’ve been turning them into compost. Yummy!

  4. Nicole says:

    I am envious of the warm weather trees you can grow that I just can’t grow here!

  5. GK says:

    Hey Kevin, how about this idea for expanding your compost ‘business’?

    At TerraCycle we manufacture affordable, potent, organic products that are not only made from waste, but are also packaged entirely in waste! TerraCycle Plant Foodâ„¢ is made by feeding premium organic waste to millions of worms. The worm poop is then liquified into a powerful organic plant food and bottled directly in used soda bottles.

  6. tochigi says:

    Hi Rebecca,

    keeping in mind how much I love to eat fresh take-no-ko (bamboo shoots) in the spring, here is some food for thought:

  7. Rebecca says:

    Hi Tochigi,
    I love the idea of eating fresh bamboo shoots, but I’ve heard that the best ones for eating come on the phyllostachys varieties of bamboo, which put out runners and are very invasive. I’ll have to find out if there is a clumping (bambusa variety) bamboo that also has shoots that are good to eat. Maybe the treecrops website can give me the answer to that! Thanks for the link.

  8. Anthony says:

    Hey guys, 5 years later – how is your food forest developing?