Friday, December 25, 2009

What is an Edible Forest Garden?

This is a garden based on the principles of permaculture. Permaculture is many things, but the central theme is to build, or behave in a way that embraces nature rather than fighting it. We will be living in a place where, left alone, the pasture would revert to forest. That is the direction nature would follow in man's absence. So the idea is to build a garden that looks and behaves much like a forest. We will guide its succession from pasture, or "oldfield" to forest by planting trees, shrubs and herbs that will enrich the soil and enhance the habitat while also providing food for us. We have learned about forest gardening from a book entitled "Edible Forest Gardens - Ecological Vision and Theory for Temperate Climate Permaculture" by Dave Jacke with Eric Toensmeier. It is in two large volumes and is highly recommended.

We will focus on perennial plants that are adapted to our area.  Most people are aware of nitrogen fixers that take nitrogen from the atmosphere and convert it to nitrogen in the soil that is available for other plants as food.  There are also dynamic accumulators, plants whose roots go deep into the soil and bring up nutrients that enrich the topsoil.  There are plants that provide nectar and shelter for insects.  These are all part of a forest garden.  We hope to have berries, grapes, fruit trees, salad herbs and vegetables available most of the year for us and the critters that live in the garden with us.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Our new homestead, purchased Oct.1, 2009

After looking at property for about 6 months, we found what we were looking for. It is part of a larger parcel that has been in the family of James Hickerson for 5 generations. In fact, we are the first Europeans to have ever bought the property. It is 94 acres, mostly wooded and hilly with a mix of hickory, walnut, cedar, poplar and many other species. It is at the headwaters of Hurricane Creek, which pours out of a huge cave on the property, crystal clear water at 57 degrees F year around. Inside the cave is a lake that is large enough to raft in. Hurricane Creek runs for about 1/2 mile through the property. About 14 acres have been kept in pasture and have been farmed in the past. An old house, which was originally built as a church, then later served as a school, sits just down the hill from the cave. It is approximately 100 years old. We are now in the process of renovating the old church.