The idea of being self-sustainable was something that my hubby was stuck on for a while. He wanted us to be able to have everything we need right at our fingertips, but the more we explored that idea we realized that it wasn’t realistic for us… yet. Maybe one day we will live on a humongous amount of land with lots of animals and all kinds of food growing in our yard, but for now we are working with a little less than one acre and I think it’s a really good start.
It’s not that we don’t like people or hate grocery stores, it would just be awesome to see where all of our food is coming from and exactly what’s going into it. We’ve just recently started buying more organic foods when we can afford to do so, and we have plans to start a vegetable garden in the spring. We aren’t experts or anything, but I would say that we’re pretty ambitious… at least the hubby is. He probably spends an hour or more everyday reading and researching [for fun] about permaculture, a design science based on nature. Basically, it goes against any kind of landscaping we’ve ever seen. Plants that we thought were weeds are actually somehow beneficial and the seemingly insignificant ones are all of a sudden very desirable. So we are in the beginning stages of making our yard into a food forest.
It’s exactly what it sounds like. A forest filled with food.
But what about the yard? Well, there will be some areas that are clear with grass or clover, but for the most part, it will be full of fruit trees, fruit shrubs and vines, herbs, and other supportive plants that ensure good soil and a healthy fungal network underground.
I’m really nerding out right now and I know it.
Almost a year ago now we planted some fruit/edible trees: Anna Apple, Ein Shemer Apple, Hood Pear, Baldwin Pear, Fig, Paw Paw, & Bay Tree (not all planted yet)
We also have some fruit shrubs: Blueberry & Pineapple guava
Some edible vines: Hardy Kiwi, Muscadine Grapes, Maypop, Sweet Potato, & Malibar Spinach
And some herbs, most of which are not planted yet: Tarragon, Rosemary, Cilantro, Lavender, Oregano, & Green Onions [2 types]
In a forest there are general niches for plants to fill, the above plants fill some of those niches but there are more than a handful of layers to a [food] forest. This graphic shows all 9.
We’ve also planted non edible plants that are useful for nitrogen fixation or for “chop and drop” purposes to enrich the soil for healthy fruit trees and shrubs. We’re even planning on introducing some insectary plants that will attract beneficial insects for the garden.
We’re trying to look past the plants as just individuals and instead have a holistic view of their relationship with other plants, insects, fungi, bacteria, and factors like sunlight, temperature and water. We aim to create a very nature-like edible forest in our yard that minimizes maintenance because the closer we mimic nature’s processes, the more sustainable it will become.
Wish us luck on our process of transforming our yard. We hope our neighbors don’t mind the mess too much! 😉