The Walden Effect: Homesteading Year 5. Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Homestead Blog

Innovations:

Homesteading Tags

Recent Comments



Blog Archive

User Pages

Login

About Us

Submission guidelines

Store


Second generation polycultures

Toensmeier's forest gardenThe best part of Paradise Lot is that Toensmeier is completely honest about which parts of his forest gardening experiments succeeded and which parts failed.  It turns out that he had nearly as many growing pains building polycultures in the forest garden as I did, and came to some of the same conclusions.  For example, Toensmeier recommends letting trees and shrubs get established for a year or two before adding anything to compete with them, and likes to plant sun-loving annual vegetables in young forest gardens to take advantage of the light before the canopy closes up and to keep your attention tuned to these spots.  He also intentionally places vigorous species in subpar habitat to slow them down so they won't take over the world.

On the other hand, Toensmeier was more tenacious than I've been and came up with some polycultures he considers a success, such as:

  • Hidcote Blue dwarf running comfrey and walking onions under jostaberries.  The jostaberries are tall enough that they can handle the understory, and the comfrey and onions are vigorous enough that neither outcompetes the other.
  • Eric ToensmeierRamps, toothwort, and hog peanuts under pawpaws.  The ramps and toothwort take over in the early spring, then die back just as the hog peanuts begin vining over the ground.
  • Jerusalem artichokes and hog peanuts.  The Jerusalem artichokes are tall enough and grow fast enough in the spring that the nitrogen-fixing hog peanuts don't choke them out, and both need to be dug at the same time in the fall to harvest the tubers.
  • Comfrey and mint.  Toensmeier planted this in his much-travelled alley since the two vigorous growers can handle quite a lot of abuse.

Although it's not a polyculture, I was also intrigued by so-called fodder banks --- dense plantings of trees and shrubs that are coppiced one or more times per year to produce leaves for livestock or people.  Toensmeier planted littleleaf linden, edible-leaf mulberry, and fragrant spring tree to produce people food, but I've been planning a similar system with mulberries to feed the chickens in their pastures.

Learn how to pasture chickens in Permaculture Chicken: Pasture Basics.



This post is part of our Paradise Lot lunchtime series.  Read all of the entries:





Want to be notified when new comments are posted on this page? Click on the RSS button after you add a comment to subscribe to the comment feed, or simply check the box beside "email replies to me" while writing your comment.


I need to read this book. These sound exactly like the kinds of insights I am looking for.
Comment by Sara Sun Mar 10 15:46:51 2013

One very unique homestead, $1,500 per acre, the opportunity of a lifetime