Forest Garden Day

With the forecast of continual rain and flood warnings popping up on the MET Office site we wondered whether anybody would join us for planting the Forest Garden at GraceWorks on Saturday. Fortunately there were a number of people who braved the weather and joined us at our Evington site.

After a hot drink Samantha Woods explained to us the principles of a Forest Garden: Creating a low-maintenance sustainable plant-based food production and agroforestry system based on woodland ecosystems, incorporating fruit and nut trees, shrubs, herbs, vines and perennial vegetables which have yields directly useful to humans. Making use of companion planting, these can be intermixed to grow in a succession of layers, to build a woodland habitat.

 

We learnt about the different root-stocks, how to mark out the canopy area so that there is enough room between trees and how to leave open glades where shrubs and bushes that need more light can thrive. Plus the placement of Morello Cherries and Blackcurrants on the North facing wall because they don't need sun to produce delicious fruit.

We also had a look at different kinds of nitrogen fixing plants: Some plants can turn atmospheric nitrogen into nitrogen fertilizers useful to themselves but also becoming available to their neighbors over time through root die back, leaf fall, and chop and drop pruning. These are known as the nitrogen fixing plants. This is a mutually beneficial relationship with the plant providing carbohydrates obtained from photosynthesis to the microorganism and in exchange for these carbon sources, the microbes provide fixed nitrogen to the host plant.

We planted a nitrogen fixing hedge along the boundary of: Sea Buckthorn and Elaeagnus Umbellata (Russian Olive) - these plants both produce edible fruit and are nitrogen fixing.

We also planted a range of fruit trees including: Family Apple Tree that produces Hereford, Sunset and Cox apples, Mulberry Tree and Plum Trees.

It was a great day and thank you to everyone who came down and helped out with the planting.