Before we built our house, we put fruit trees in the ground. That was the beginning of our permaculture effort toward sustainability and low maintenance landscaping. We’re having fun figuring out how to build this forest garden on the hill. We don’t believe in bringing in back hoes to move the earth. We’re working with what is here, and what has eroded from industrial agriculture row cropping on highly erodible land. Sheet mulching around the young fruit trees is necessary to help being to rebuild the soil and hold back competition from grass roots while the trees get established. Cages are necessary to protect young trees from deer and other rodents. And this summer, year three, we planted medicinals and herbs to being our second and third tiers of the forest garden.

permie orchard 2012

Early efforts don’t look like much, but we’re expanding these beds slowly until they meet up with one another. This year (2013) that means more cardboard and woodchips, then adding strawberries and letting the tansy and yarrow and echinacea we planted last year expand to shade out the fescue.

This year we already saw progress:

Tansy, sorrel and jerusalem artichoke around a peach tree
Tansy, sorrel and jerusalem artichoke around a peach tree

Permaculture plants so far:

  • pear
  • plum
  • apple
  • peach
  • paw paw
  • tansy
  • yarrow
  • comfry
  • echinacea
  • marsh mallow
  • oxeye daisy
  • aronias (chokeberries)
  • strawberries
  • blueberries
  • hazelnuts
  • elderberries
  • native forbs (flowers)
  • garlic
  • onions
  • wormwood
  • horehound
  • jerusalem artichokes
  • sorrel  Upper orchard 2013