On sunday Francesca, Francesco, Anton and I went to help Hugo and Luis to create a forest garden, here you can find the story of our experience and some suggests that Luis gave to us. Why don’t transform your backgarden in a nice and useful place where to go to gather some fruits and to relax yourself?
“We try to transform the problems into power and energy”. This is the main principle that Luis and Hugo used to build the forest garden.
A forest garden could be many things, can you imagine your backgarden like a forest? This is the firs step. Robert A. de J. Hart during the Sixties imagened his own edible forest garden. He adapted African practices for the English woodland, an easy maintain garden that include simple, natural elements in a highly productive space. So at the beginning you have to do a project, to see how is your structure of the garden, where the north is, how is the soil and how you can improve it, you need a perfect design and then to choose the best plants and vegetables that can grow there.
After this big work you can start to plant.
We had the possibility to see the practice and help to build a forest garden for one day.
Hugo lives in Paul in a big land (40 hectares) with his wife and his lovely daughter and he decided to make a forest garden with his friend Luis that helped him for an efficient project.
On sunday we spent all day to help these guys to create a forest garden. It was very interesting too see how they managed anything and used natural materials.
They don’t use herbicide, pesticide and any other chemical substance.
In fact the most important thing in this work is to use all natural materials that you can find in your land and to manage this stuff in a smart way.
But let’s see the main step to create this extraordinary garden.
- At the beginning we started to make a path with some stones that we got around the land. It is important to make a path because when all plants will grow up you will need a way where you can pass through. It is a forest but you have to built it with intelligence!
- We started to plant black currants and berries in the spot that Luis indicated to us. REMEMBER: If you buy different varieties, you have to plant the same species close each other (from Luis’ advice)!
After that we covered all land with straw to keep the moisture: this is a tecnique widespread in permaculture.
- We moved in another spot for a new Luis’s “magic trick”.We covered a plot of land with a tarpaulin. That piece of land will be cover for more than one year to avoid the growth of plants and weed.Smart choice if you have a big land but you have to know that you can’t use this land for long time (more than one year)!
- The last step. We moved again (40 hectares is such a big land!). In this piece Hugo and Luis already made a lots of holes in the soil, like this:The tecnique is to dig two holes close and to put in one of this only organic matter and in the other one the plant (fruit tree for example) to ensure that the soil accept and store water better. Adding organic matter also increases the activity and number of soil organism, also helps to protect water quality and the environment. Soils amended with organic matter are a better sponge for water. More water goes into the soil, and less water runs off the surface.
So at the end of the day anybody was tired but really happy, we helped to build a real forest garden and we learnt many new things; Luis used his knolowedge about agricolture: he mixed old tecniques from Africa, from Maya’s culture and new ideas ispired by permaculture. And he explained any step, he showed to us his project and said why and how he choose evrything.
And the last thing about this experience: I had one of the most tasty lunch in my life: thanks to Hugo and especially…. for the amazing food!