The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Edible hedges

Blackthorn in a Welsh hedgerowAll this talk of rotational grazing makes Mark cringe because he knows it means lots of fences.  Is there a way to delete the fences and instead add in more multi-purpose trees?

When I was in Great Britain, I loved their tradition of using hedgerows to separate fields.  The hedgerows consisted of closely planted trees and shrubs, many of which produced fruits or nuts that could feed livestock (or humans.)

Since our livestock dreams are a few years in the future, we have time to plant some hedges now in preparation.  So far, the most interesting edible hedge species I've read about include crab apples, wild plums, Nanking cherry, trifoliate orange, blackberry, elder, hazel, and rose.  The goal is to plant them close enough together that they create an impenetrable thicket and keep animals from breaking through, but not so thickly that they drown each other out.  I've got a lot more reading to do on hedges, though, before I put anything in the ground!

Check out Mark's automatic chicken waterer invention.

This post is part of our Forest Pasturing lunchtime series.  Read all of the entries:

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I've been looking for edible / native / bird, bee attracting hedges for suburbia. Maybe some of the ones I found will work for you too. Carolina Allspice is neat, but needs to be kept trimmed, can get invasive. blueberries work well. summersweet (clethra alnifolia) or virginia sweetspire attracts bees and humming birds with late summer/fall flower spikes. If you want to make candles you could use bayberry. Or witch hazel, a nice medicinal plant. I have a whole spread sheet with more details, but will not try to post it. All the above plants take pretty crappy soil and shade, because that is what I have to deal with.
Comment by Rebecca M Mon Dec 14 10:47:10 2009
I'd actually love to see your spreadsheet if you'd like to share. You can email it to me at Thanks for the suggestions!
Comment by anna Mon Dec 14 15:42:48 2009

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