Last Week, Veronica and I had the pleasure of teaching a Backyard Forest Garden course at the school garden where I used to work. Between the two existing food forests was some vacant space which was always intended for development into a Forest Garden and this course seemed like the ideal opportunity.
A few months ago when Permaculture Exchange held the garden gathering at the school we had prepared the site, scraping of the cooch grass layer, adding new top soil and sheet-mulching the space with newspaper and woody mulch. This was ideal as the site could site undisturbed before we put holes in the sheet-mulch during planting.
This was a great course to deliver in Canberra as there was so much knowledge in the room about gardening. Following some morning theory sessions we spent the afternoon with students developing designs for their backyards so that they could define the goals of the space and start to analyse their sites. We also spent a lot of time answering student questions about solutions for problem areas of their back-yards and brainstorming design solutions with the group.
That next morning we had another theory session about how to build guilds and group plants together. Following this, the theory was put into practice as students were given information regarding the plants we had available and the site analysis we had all completed yesterday.
Students split into three groups and each developed a guild design around one of the three fruit-trees we were planting. In addition, some students also worked to rebuild some pathways that had become overgrown so that it was easier to access the site.
Three small mounds were created, each with a fruit tree and a support guild. This well defined space was in deliberate contrast with the more free-form groupings of the existing forest gardens.
The weekend was a great success and it was great to see students apply the knowledge they had learned over the past two days to successfully design and plant a backyard forest garden.
Great work guys, I can’t wait to see the forest garden designs you developed for home put into practice. Happy Gardening.