Earlier this week I started planting a new food forest in Alabama. Though my land is rented, we really have no idea how long we’ll be here, so why not plant?
Heck, I planted a food forest on the land I own in the Caribbean, not knowing I would be leaving it the next year. This is par for the course.
But wandering aside, the new Alabama Food Forest Project will be an interesting one for multiple reasons.
First, it’s colder than my previous projects by a half-zone. We’re not going to be able to do much with tropicals and will have to focus on temperate species.
Second, we’re starting this project in an already wooded area instead of on a lawn. There is already a lot of fungi and organic matter in the soil, which should be good for young trees.
You can see the beginning of the project in this video, which is too long and rambly, but people still seem to like it:
Yesterday my brother Brian the Firefighter and I cleared a much bigger chunk of the area. The soil looks better than the soil in the garden, so hopefully the trees and plants we add will thrive.
The canopy trees I’m planning include pecan, chestnut, mulberry and pear. Understory should be apples, peaches, goji berries, blueberries, blackberries, smaller mulberries, cassava and chaya. Nitrogen fixers include mimosa, black locust, Leucaena and Enterolobium and coral bean (if I can get some of the latter two). As I propagate T. diversifolia, I’ll plant them all around as well. The ground cover should be mostly pumpkins and sweet potatoes for starters.
I may get a weed torch to control the return of the many Smilax plants from below – this area was loaded with vines and I have the scrapes on my arms to prove it. Torching them seems easier than trying to dig them all up. Digging is a nightmare with how many trees roots are in the ground. It’s like trying to dig through woven baskets.
Unlike the grocery row gardens I’m building, this food forest will have more of a flowing, natural feel. I’m making it with what I call the “island method,” planting scattered tree guilds with paths in between. It should really take shape over the next few months. We have a lot of tree waiting to be planted – and plenty of seeds, too!