Planting an Edible Forest Garden

The weather was rather gloomy and chilly when I pulled on my hat and jacket to go out in the garden at 1 today.  If my friend, Seija, wasn’t here to help me, I probably would have put it off  a bit longer.  Thankfully, our task of the day was to plant some bare root trees and shrubs that arrived last week from St. Lawrence Nursery, so we got our blood pumping quickly.  

We’ve planted this orchard before, but between greenhouse construction, foundation insulation, and a few moose incidents, many of the trees didn’t make it.  I have much higher hopes for the trees we planted today.  Not only is the construction/destruction in that part of the yard through, I have been systematically transforming the lawn to deep, humus and fungus-rich soil.  Grass is actually a terrible companion to trees because it prefers a bacterially dominated soil, rather than a fungus-dominated soil found in forests.  Its shallow roots also compete directly with the shallow roots of fruit trees.

Seija and I planted a pear, two apples, an apricot and a plum.  Later, the sun came out and I was motivated to keep going.   I planted some red currants, and just when I was starting to run out of steam, James and Kelley arrived to help me move an ill-placed black currant, and another unidentified bush (could it be one of the honeyberries?)  We built the spring compost pile, making space to plant the last pear and a siberian pea shrub.  

As I sit on the couch now, I can feel my aching muscles, and I feel enormously content with my day in the garden.  My forest garden will someday be abundant with fruits, berries, and other food for us humans, and the animals that live on this small bit of land.  There is a lot of work still to be done, but we are one more step down our path to self-sufficiency.  Tomorrow, I will be back in the garden to start planting the annual crops… carrots, parsnips, rutabagas, turnips, and maybe even some spinach!  Let the fun begin!

PS: As of May 1st, it is time to start your sunflowers, pumpkins, and other squash in 3 or 4 inch pots!

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