Archive for February 21st, 2008

Video: Permaculture Trio

This video is really three different views of permaculture gardens rolled into one. Notes below the video.

Forest Gardening with Robert Hart

Robert Hart was born on 1 April 1913, and died on 7 March 2000. He was a vegan (eating around 90% raw food) who took up farming at Wenlock Edge, in Shropshire.

  • garden is on the site of an ancient Celtic monastery
  • inspired by the urge to create a practical solution to world hunger
  • also cared for his handicapped brother, Lacon, born with severe learning difficulties
  • “vision was to plant a miniature edible forest to fulfil the needs of a healthy diet in beautiful surroundings”
  • garden was established in the early 1960s
  • success depends upon planting in layers to mimic nature
  • 7 storeys
    • canopy layer: tall, light-demanding trees e.g. mature fruit trees
    • low-tree layer: short, shade-tolerant trees e.g. smaller nuts and fruit trees, and dwarf fruit varieties
    • shrub layer: bushes e.g. currants and berries
    • herbaceous layer: perennial vegetables and herbs
    • ground cover layer: horizontal spreading plants e.g. strawberries
    • rhizosphere: underground area, plants grown for roots/tubers
    • vertical layer: climbers, creepers, vines
  • Mahatma Gandhi was the inspiration, with his vision of a world order of democratic, self-sustaining small communities
  • some of the trees have been planted in memory of inspirational figures
  • garden is kept mulched all year
  • mulch suppresses weeds, maintains desirable soil temperature, retains moisture, feeds microorganisms
  • good compost contains a wide variety of organic materials
  • shredded woody material is excellent for the compost
  • no chemicals used, but foliar sprays of liquid comfrey, nettles etc
  • attention paid to the relationships between different plants (companion planting)
  • sells produce to local greengrocer and whole-food restaurant
  • advice on how to start a forest garden from scratch:
    • start an orchard of standard fruit trees, planted at the recommended spacing (20 ft apart)
    • plant dwarf trees in between the standard trees
    • plant bushes (e.g. currants, gooseberries) in between the trees
    • plant herbs and perennials at the ground level
    • once established, the main work is cutting back plants so they don’t encroach on each other too much, and keeping the soil well-mulched
  • forest gardens give maximum output for minimum labour

Plants For A Future (PFAF) with Ken Fern

  • (15:50) profile of Ken Fern, building a farm in Cornwall using many of Robert’s ideas
  • Ken has a massive variety of plants growing on his farm, and goes through some of the more interesting ones
  • Ken maintains the Plants For A Future (PFAF) web site and database, listing over 7000 plants that can be grown in the UK

Mike and Julia Guerra

  • (32:10) tiny backyard forest garden in Hartfordshire
  • the garden is 75 square metres, and gives 250 kg of food per year (15 tons/acre!), for 2 hours of garden work per week
  • was inspired by a Bill Mollison documentary to start growing his own food
  • turned their barren backyard into a very productive food garden
  • mostly zone 1, intensive herb and vegetable garden
  • (39.25) cool strawberry tower
  • companion planting
  • use warmth of the compost heap to dry shallots or grow seedlings
  • growing potatoes in old tyres
  • worm farm – “wormery”; use castings, liquid (“worm wee”) for heavy feeders like tomatoes
  • greens during winter fight depression

2 comments February 21st, 2008


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