Wednesday, March 10, 2010

What is Edible Forest Gardening? (and making small changes)

This post is inspired by Nikol's comment which asks if edible forest garening is like having an orchard. Good question. The answer is, kind of, only much, much better.

When planning an edible forest garden you basically copy the format found in nature, specifically in the forest. If you walk through a forest you'll see that it's not just trees, but trees and shrubs and vines and ground level plants. Many niches are filled. In an edible forest garden you have all of these components and they either produce food or provide some other positive contribution to the garden (like fix nitrogen into the soil, or attract and house beneficial insects/birds). For example, in the edible forest garden I'm planning we have citrus trees, then various berry shrubs planted around them, followed by lower growing plants like flowers, vegetables, and strawberries. It takes some time and consideration when planning such a garden, but once the garden is put in place it takes very little time to keep it running. Think about it, with most space filled, there will be very little room for weeds!
My husband was skeptical of this gardening strategy at first, since it would appear that many of the plants are required to grow in the shade. But, remember in an edible forest garden you copy nature's format, planting shrubs in sunny openings and lower growing plants around the edges. I'm blessed as far as edible forest gardening goes since I live in southern california and inadequate sunshine is the least of my worries. In fact I've been planning one section of my garden so that it will create shade for my poor blackberry bushes. The truth is plants are much hardier than we give them credit for. They actually want to grow if you can believe that.

If this is insufficient explanation of edible forest gardening then either shoot me a comment or check out the book. There are two volumes by the way and, as much as I love the first volume, the second sounds even better.

In other news: can I just say that if you aren't washing your hair with baking soda by now you should be. It is AMAZING, I just can't say enough good stuff about it. My hair feels like it did when I was a young'un. And it's only been a little over a week. I've had a few conversations with people lately that have left me a little baffled. When I tell them I use baking soda to wash my hair they seem to think I'm plum crazy. Even when I give them the facts, they still think I'm crazy. And I can see their point, using copious amounts of chemicals does seem the smarter option. Well, live and let live.

On a somewhat related note: I was reading a raw food book about a month ago and something I read in it has stuck with me. I can't remember the exact wording but basically what the author said was that with each small, positive change she has made she notices significant improvements in her health and the way she feels. And she wasn't just talking about eating raw food, it could be any small change that you make for the better. Using natural cleaners, being more active, eating healthier, etc. I've made two small changes this year and the effects have been dramatic. One of the small changes was the baking soda thing (and I'm sure you're all sick to death from hearing about that) The other small change was green smoothies. Jonas and I started eating green smoothies every morning for breakfast, care of the embarassment of green riches our chard plant provides. If you are unfamiliar with green smoothies here's the recipe: 2 cups of greens, fruit, water (or liquid of choice), blend it, consume. Don't worry, they taste great. And if your's does not taste great, add a banana you'll be fine.

Now Jonas and I, of course, miss some days. Every once in awhile I dont feel like going out into the garden at 6am to pick chard (like when it's pouring rain) so we have cheerios instead. But we have them most days. And I feel great. I assume Jonas feels great also, but he's a kid, he always feels great.

Just something to think about.

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