"Bludgeoning hard times with a rolling pin"

"Bludgeoning hard times with a rolling pin"

Friday, July 9, 2010

Is suburban forest gardening possible?

I recently learned about a section of permaculture called forest gardening. For those concerned about any aspect of a “peaking” society (peak climate, peak oil, peak population, peak water) or for anyone who may want to live closer to nature or merely save money, forest gardening sounds exciting to explore.

This method throws farming and traditional gardening for a loop. There is no tilling of soil. There is almost no maintenance required, making it appealing to an aging population, folks with disabilities or just the chronically lazy.

Why do forests thrive unattended by human effort? Because they want to grow there. It’s their natural inclination. Forest gardening takes this natural setting and introduces edibles—but only the ones wishing to grow in a particular region.

Layers make the most of a small plot. Neighboring together could be: vines, ground-level edibles such as strawberries; root vegetables; typical garden residents like lettuces and herbs; shrub-size berries; and dwarf fruit trees. This whole environment would be protected under a canopy of large fruit and nut trees.

Weeds are minimal and fallen tree leaves provide rich mulch. Plants attracting beneficial bugs (to dine on bad bugs) could be added. In a small space, a whole ecosystem thrives.
After years of chemical farming requiring expensive machinery, working with nature sounds almost too simple.

Though much information I found about forest gardening is from England and the notion of permaculture hails from Australia, residents in Colorado and Massachusetts are succeeding at forest gardening. One source I read claimed ten people could be fed from one acre. Encouraging.

Perhaps suburbanites can practice sustainability after all.

Would you attempt a forest garden?


  1. I gave up gardening in the woods a few years back! I just let nature take its course.

  2. Tidy gardening intimidates me. If there is a way to let nature do its thing...and we still can get a harvest, that sounds good to me! (i.e. lazy)

    Thanks for commenting, Charlotte!