Gardening tips from the Native Americans
that I've finally answered my question about what eastern Native
American food looked like before corn dominated their fields, I can
start to tease permaculture implications out of the information.
First of all, the intricate layering
(trees planted above vines above
shrubs above groundcovers) often focused on by forest gardening
seems to be more of a tropical and semi-tropical concept, and I suspect
we just don't have enough sunlight in our temperate climate to make
layering work well. I
don't think it's just coincidence that the Native Americans from our
area used techniques that basically turned their wild food tree systems
orchards by burning and clearing out the undergrowth.
Instead, it sounds like the admonition in Edible
to give your trees lots of space and diversify horizontally (a grape
vine just beyond the canopy of your apple tree, for example) rather
is more appropriate for our climate. Those of you who live in
zone 8 or warmer are more likely to be successful with the vertical
layering advocated in earlier forest gardening books.
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