Forest gardening goes beyond your typical vegetable plot, embracing structural diversity in the form of multiple vertical layers. Tree, shrub, vine, herbaceous and root layers produce a varied abundance and maximize the solar energy of a space. Natural forests are self-maintaining systems that provide plenty of food for both humans and wildlife. Using permaculture principles, we can mimic forest systems to create healthy, productive spaces for all walks of life to enjoy.
Installing plant polycultures (multiple crops) is an effective way to improve the overall health of your garden. Using plants with varied root patterns, different structures and nutrient needs allows us to design our garden in more compact arrangements, partition soil resources and ultimately collect higher yields. An example of a historically successful polyculture is the trio of corn, beans and squash. It’s a delightfully symbiotic relationship, as the corn provides a living trellis for the beans to climb, the beans fix atmospheric nitrogen and make it available for the heavily feeding corn, while the broad leaves of the squash help smother weeds and retain moisture for the guild.