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

Choosing Plant Groupings for the Forest Garden

Primary habitats

Based on the wetland and eventual canopy locations, I filled in plant groupings on the map above.  This was a pretty complicated step, which I'll go into in far more detail than you'll care for.  First, I listed all of the plants I was interested in growing, focussing mainly on plants which will increase fertility of the soil but throwing in some nectary and edible plants as well.  Then I narrowed the plant list down to those which I can get my hands on for free (primarily on my own property), or which I'm willing to spend money on.

Next, I grouped the plants of interest into categories based on disturbance intensity, sun/shade, and moisture level.  The categories are as follows:

If you're still reading, here was my reasoning behind choosing individual species.  First, the uses which are important to me.

The top species before I narrowed it down (with ones I have nearby marked with an asterisk):

edible, fertility (coppice)
River cane
building material
wet, sun
edible, nectary
edible, ground cover
wet, sun
fertility (coppice)
wet, sun
fertility (nitrogen fixer, coppice)
wet, sun
edible, nectary
sun to shade
fertility (dynamic accumulator), ground cover
sun to shade
fertility (nitrogen fixer), ground cover, nectary, edible
fertility (dynamic accumulator), nectary, ground cover
fertility (dynamic accumulator), edible, nectary, ground cover
*German chamomile
fertility (dynamic accumulator), edible
fertility (dynamic accumulator)
wet, partial shade
*Lemon balm
fertility (dynamic accumulator), nectary, groundcover
fertility (dynamic accumulator), edible, nectary, groundcover
fertility (dynamic accumulator), edible
sun, wet
fertility (dynamic accumulator), nectary
fertility (dynamic accumulator), nectary, edible
*Bee balm
edible, nectary
wet, sun

This post is part of our Planning The Forest Garden 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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