How to Build a Food Forest 2.0
A food forest is exactly what it sounds like, a forest that has food producing plants growing throughout. This does not mean all the plants in the forest produce food but at least some do. In fact it is best not to have too many food producing plants in your food forest as adequate support species are necessary to have a successful food forest.
How to Build a Food Forest
1. Choose your plant material. For me, the plants I chose are:
Thornless Honey Locust
Allegheny Serviceberry (Also food producer)
Nitrogen Fixing Species
New Jersey Tea
Food Producing Species
2. You should get rid of the grass, at least in strips for the to limit the competition with the tree roots. There are many options to do this. Sheet mulching, rototilling, plowing, sod cutting and removal, and using animals to do the clearing.
3. Install any earthworks you may need. I installed swales.
4. Plant your trees. I planted the trees 6 feet apart and the shrubs 3 feet apart. I made sure to have at least one support species next to every food producer. We used an auger to speed up the process. I ended up with 60% support and 40% food producers. Bear in mind that my food producers are not high maintenance grafted trees. I would use more support species with grafted trees or avoid grafted trees altogether. Further this spacing is very close, but my nitrogen fixers and pioneer species are short lived. Nitrogen fixers are cut to six feet tall every year. This releases nitrogen into the soil to feed the fruit trees. In time the nitrogen fixers will die.
5. Seed in a good groundcover. I used a nitrogen fixing groundcover of clover and alfalfa. Add straw as a covering to the seed.
6. Mulch all the trees. I used straw to mulch, but wood mulch is perfectly fine as well.
7. Do your rain dance, because it will be crucial initially that your trees get water to become rooted. Make sure your trees get watered initially, and to make sure they get at least 1 inch of watering or rainfall per week.