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Best Forest Garden Method: Quick, Cheap, Easy, Profitable — 10 Comments

  1. Update: The new forest garden is doing well. I was a little concerned in Nov/Dec because many of the bananas were starting to yellow. This was probably due to the rainy season washing away nutrients. Since then the plants have been fertilized and mulched and everything has greened up nicely. Now the banana plants are around ceiling height. Some are taller than others because it takes time to plant everything. The ones planted early around the fence line are now the tallest. Soon, the others should catch up.

    I’m currently traveling through neighboring countries to learn more about forest gardening, building soil naturally with inexpensive local materials, Korean natural farming, and growing microgreens and baby greens for profit.

    For instance, I’ve learned how the banana plants on the new land could have reached maturity several months sooner simply by digging slightly larger planting holes with more compost.

    Not only can this type of information help save countless family farms, there’s also incredible profit potential. There are millions of hectares of dirt cheap land with depleted soil. In fact, our little homestead is almost entirely surrounded with dead soil that rarely produces crops. The land typically sits fallow until a good rainy season comes along every decade or so. Sometimes land like this can be purchased very inexpensively. That’s one of my long term plans — get more land someday and return it to productivity using efficient (dirt cheap) forest garden methods. So in other words, approach it as a business versus a hobbyist/backyard project like I did with my first forest garden.

    I’ll post more about this as I learn more. There are so many possibilities such as planting dwarf (non-GMO) coconut, banana and papayas that produce sooner with the fruit within arms reach. More energy goes into producing food and less into woody trunks/stalks. For instance, we’re starting to get meter long bunches of bananas that take two people to handle.

      • Yes, I think so. Non-invasive species would probably be better. We planted several leucaena (invasive) in our first forest garden. The sesbania trees died from insect infestations. So still not sure what’s best for our area. I love the idea of really hearty nitrogen fixing trees busting up the clay and creating fungi networks because our soil is as hard as adobe brick.

        These are the sort of details I’m trying to learn without getting a degree in agriculture, etc. So far I’ve been unable to get answers to very specific questions.

        Keep all trees and other plants in the raised beds, because the swales are used as pathways. Soon wild grass will take over so it’s not too muddy. Then we can pull or push carts and wheelbarrows on the pathways. Dumping rice hulls (super cheap for massive truckloads almost the size of an 18 wheeler) on the pathways enables you to walk on the pathways all year except after the hardest rains.

    • Yes. Bananas are 2m apart in the row. Eventually some bananas will be thinned out as the trees get bigger (4-5 years).

      Note: the papaya are planted between the bananas = 1m from each banana. By far the strongest, fastest growing and best tasting papayas have come from seeds sprouted in compost. All I do is throw fruit and vegetable peelings into a pile and forget about it for 10-12 months. (No turning required, although I do cover in the rainy season because it would get washed away.) At some point the papaya seeds will sprout naturally from the compost when they’re ready. They will be super strong because they’ll have all the enzymes, beneficial bacteria, etc. that they need. When they’re 4-5″ high, gently pull apart and plant directly in the garden. Do not try to grow in pots and transplant later. They don’t like to be transplanted like that, but if you catch them as babies like I’m saying then they will thrive. The papayas will get so big and heavy with fruit that many will require staking so they don’t fall over. And of course, start with the best papayas you can find.

  2. Dr. Owen:
    The Food Forest Garden is wonderful. Obviously providing much food, and adding serene energy. It is inspiring, and I salute you and your partner for doing it and sharing it. Job well done!!

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