Way back in November of 2008, the Knoxville Permaculture Guild held a work party at a guild member’s home in west Knoxville where we planted an edible forest. Some of the bushes and trees seemed so little an fragile, and we wondered how any of it would survive the winter. This was Chad’s first permaculture design experiment as well as the homeowners were not experienced gardeners in any way. We didn’t know if the forest would be a success or a failure. It was one of those things where only time would reveal the result.
After four and a half years, I had the pleasure of visiting the edible forest today (June 13, 2013), and I’m ready to report the outcome.
Chad designed the forest around an established pine tree planning several canopy layers. I don’t remember the entire design plan, but the upper canopy consisted of the pine tree and a Heartnut tree, which we planted. The next canopy included trees like Nanking Cherry, Goumi berry, Plumcot, Pear, and Plum. The third layer consisted of bushes like Gooseberry and Blueberry as well as Kiwi (vine) along the back using the chain link fence as support and asparagus. The homeowners really wanted a peach tree, and that was added to the planting, too. We planted the stuff, laid cardboard boxes around plants to suppress weed growth, and left instructions for the novice gardener homeowners to mulch as soon as possible. Chad also left a list of ground covers that could be planted in the future to assist with weed suppression and assist with keeping the soil healthy.
And that’s how we left it. I heard last summer that the peach tree produced a ridiculously large harvest and received some peach jam from the harvest, but other than that, I had not seen or heard about the forest…until today. I apologize in advance for the quality of the photos. All I had on me was my cell phone.
I was so completely surprised at the health an size of the forest. The forest itself isn’t in a huge area an would easily fit onto half a city lot. Most everything survived. They lost two of the three blueberries and two of the three kiwis. The homeowner didn’t think that any of the asparagus survived, but we found one shoot today. Overall, the homeowner is very pleased with the forest, which is also quite important.
I am happy to say that the work we did back in November of 2008 is alive and thriving! It’s good to see permaculture in action.