Tag Archives: gardening

Essbare Waldgärten – Edible Forest Gardens

Warum habe ich im Moment mal wieder so wenig Zeit zum Bloggen? Weil ich zu Weihnachten ein paar echt tolle Bücher bekommen habe!

Im Moment lese ich “Edible Forest Gardens” von Dave Jacke und Eric Toensmeier. Es ist unheimlich spannend und wenn ich es mal beiseite lege, möchte ich nur noch in den Garten springen und mir auch einen Waldgarten anlegen.

Was ist nun aber so ein Waldgarten? Im Prinzip ist es ein Garten, der nach dem Vorbild eines Waldes angelegt ist. Es gibt verschiedene Schichten (hohe Bäume, niedrige Bäume, Sträucher, Stauden, Bodendecker, Wurzelschicht und Kletterpflanzen), die so zusammengepflanzt werden, dass sie sich gegenseitig ergänzen, helfen und als kleines Ökosystem zusammenarbeiten. Die Ziele des Waldgartens sind Diversität, niedrige Erhaltungskosten (das System erhält und erneuert sich selbst), hohe Belastbarkeit und Stabilität. Da es neben Zehrern auch Pflanzen gibt, die Nährstoffe binden, also Stickstoffbinder und Nährstoff-Akkumulatoren, müssem dem System keine Nährstoffe zugeführt werden. Da die Pflanzen zum großen Teil ausdauernd sind oder sich selbst wiederaussäen, ist auch kein Umgraben etc. nötig. Weiterhin reduziert die Vielfalt den Schädlingsdruck und die Wahrscheinlichkeit eines Totalausfalls.
Anfangs wird schon viel Energie in das System gesteckt, um es zum Laufen zu bringen – man muss den Garten ja anlegen, mulchen, etc. pp. -, aber wenn der Garten einmal läuft, ist die Arbeit, die noch fällig ist, sehr gering: Hier da vielleicht mal eingreifen und zurückschneiden, vielleicht ein wenig nachmulchen und natürlich ernten.
Martin Crawford vom Agroforestry Research Trust, dessen 0.8 ha großen Waldgarten wir besucht haben, zählt auf, was er im Laufe des Jahres an Zeit investiert: “In den Monaten April, Mai und Juni verbringe ich pro Monat etwa 6 Tage mit Unkrautjäten; in Juli und August sind es etwa zwei Tage monatlich.” (Jacke, 294) Ansonsten verbringt es ein wenig Zeit damit, frisch bepflanzte Stellen zu mulchen, hier und da ein paar Änderungen anzubringen und zu ernten. Martin bewirtschaftet seinen Hektar allein und managt nebenbei noch seinen Saatgut- und Pflanzenhandel, sowie andere Dinge!
Ein weiterer Waldgärtner, Charlie aus Greensboro, North Carolina, USA, gibt als Arbeitsstunden an: “Im Jahresdurchschnitt muss er nur 10 Stunden pro Woche für zwei Wochen jeweils im Frühling und Herbst aufbringen.“ Zu den Arbeiten gehören Mulchen, Beschneiden, Ausdünnen und Kompost verteilen, sowie ab und zu das “Überarbeiten” und Ändern von Teilen des Gartens. „Abgesehen von den Frühlings- und Herbsthauptarbeitszeiten arbeitet Charlie nur maximal eine Stunde pro Woche im Garten, hautpsächlich um sich um seine einjährigen Gemüsepflanzen zu kümmern.” (Jacke, 61).

Das Buch hat einen Fokus auf essbare oder sonstig verwertbare Pflanzen (also medizinisch, handwerklich, etc. nutzbare) und hat einen Anhang mit einer riesigen tollen Liste voller Pflanzen. Da wünscht man sich echt mehr Platz und Geld.

Im eigenen Garten haben wir ein bisschen angefangen, den Garten hin zum Waldgarten zu gestalten, indem wir die Baumscheiben mit einjährigen und ausdauernden Pflanzen bepflanzt und Kletterer hochklettern haben lassen, aber es fehlen noch mehr Bodendecker, Sträucher und außerdem Verbindungen zwischen den Bauminseln. Aber 2010 steht ja gerade erst vor uns und wir haben mal wieder viele Gartenideen.

Das System der Waldgärtern kam mir letztens auch in den Kopf, als ich ein Interview in der National Geographic (Dez. 09) mit Landschaftsökologen Wolfgang Haber las, der einerseits dafür plädiert, CO2-Senken wie Wälder zu vermehren, aber auch einräumt, dass das die Welternährungssituation nicht verbessert. “Wälder kann man nicht essen”, sagt er (Nat. Geo., Dez 09, S. 40).
Dem gegenüber stehend ist die lange Einleitung des Edible Forest Garden-Buches, das beschreibt, wie die Indianer Nordamerikas die Wälder in Sinne von Waldgärten bewirtschafteten und Erträge der bevorzugten Nahrungspflanzen durch verschiedene Techniken erhöhten und eine Art riesiges essbares Paradies schafften. Einen großen Waldgarten eben.
Fichtenmonokulturen kann man nicht essen, aber wenn wir ein bisschen umdenken und unsere herkömmliche Landwirtschaft einjähriger Pflanzen mit so arbeitsextensiven Systemen wie den Waldgärten verbinden, dann wäre das vielleicht eine Lösung.
Dave Jacke beschreibt in seinem Buch auch eine schöne Vision, in der die großen Rasenflächen der US-amerikanischen Vorstädte vielen Waldgärten weichen, die alle verbunden sind und so neben Nahrungs- und Materialquellen der Menschen auch noch als Wildkorridore dienen (Jacke 50 f).

So, bevor ich hier noch weiter schwärme, beende ich mal diesen Post und empfehle nur noch schnell das Buch:

Dave Jacke und Eric Toensmeier. „Edible Forest Gardens“, Chelsea Green. Hat zwei Bände, Band 1 ist Vision und Theorie; Band 2 die „Werkzeugkiste“ des Waldgartendesigners.

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Why do I have so little time for blogging at the moment? Because I got some great books for Christmas!

At the moment I’m reading „Edible Forest Gardens“ by Dave Jacke and Eric Toensmeier. It’s very exciting and when I put it down, I just want to jump up and into the garden and start creating my own forest garden.

So, what is a forest garden? It’s basically a garden that has been designed with a forest in mind. There are several layers (canopy, low trees, shrubs, herbacious layer, ground cover, root layer and vines), that are planted together to supplement and help each other and work like a little ecosystem.
The goals of the forest garden are diversity, sustainability, low maintainance (the system maintains and renews itself), high resilience and stability.
Since next to „hungry“ plants grow nutrient accumulators and nitrogen fixers, the system doesn’t require the gardener to add any nutrients, and no tilling is necessary because the majority of the plants is perennial or resows itself. The diversity reduced pest pressure and the probability of a complete crop failure.
In the beginning quite some energy has to be put into the system to get it going – you have to plant the garden after all, mulch, etc. -, but once it’s running, the work that remains is very little: Here and there some directing, some pruning, some mulching and, of course, harvesting.
Martin Crawford of the Agroforestry Research Trust, whose 0.8 ha garden we visited, lists how much time he invests during the course of a year: „I tend to spend about six days per month in April, May, and June and two days in July and August on weeding patrols.“ (Jacke 294) Otherwise he spends some time mulching freshly planted spots and changing his garden here and there, and harvesting. Martin works his hectare alone and besides it also manages his seed and plant business and some other things!
Another forest gardener, Charlie from Greensboro, NC, USA, says about his work „load“: „On an annual basis, he has to put in only about ten hours per week for two weeks in spring, and the same for two weeks in the fall. This includes mulching (usually in the fall), and pruning, thinning, and spreading compost around younger trees and bushes in spring. […] Other than his spring and fall activity bursts, he puts in up to an hour per week during the eight-month growing season, mainly to care for his annual vegetables.“ (Jacke 61).

The book focusses on edible or otherwise useful plants (medicine, crafts, etc.) and has an appendix with a wonderful and huge list of plants. Makes you wish for more garden space and money.

In our garden we have started to design the garden more towards a forest garden by planting annual and perennial herbs under the trees and having vines climbing up them, but there are still ground cover and shrubs missing, and connections between the tree islands.
But 2010 just only started and we have again lots of garden ideas.

I also had to think of forest gardening when I read an article in National Geographic (German Dec 09 issue) the other day: A German landscape ecologist named Wolfgang Haber proposes to increase carbon sinks like forests, but complains that this won’t improve the global food situation. „You can’t eat forests“, he says (Nat. Geo, Germany, Dec 09, p. 40).
Opposing that is the long introduction of Dave Jacke’s Edible Forest Garden book, which describes the forest gardening of the Native Americans which increased yields of forest food plants with different techniques and managed the forests intensively to form a kind of giant edible paradise. A big forest garden.
Pine monocultures you can’t eat, but if we change our point of view just a little bit and connect our conventional agriculture of annual crops with such work extensive systems like forest gardening then that might pose a solution.
Dave Jacke describes a beautiful vision in which the lawns of subarban USA are turned into forest gardens which are all connected and function not only as food and craft material producers but also as wildlife corridors (Jacke 50p).

Ok, before I keep rambling on about forest gardening, I’ll end this post and recommend the book:

Dave Jacke und Eric Toensmeier. „Edible Forest Gardens“, Chelsea Green. Two volumes, Vol 1 is vision and theory; Vol 2 the forest garden designer’s toolkit.

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So much to do – so little time

Wow, a lot happened since I last wrote!

I started the clean the garden up for winter by taking the dead tomato and cucumber plants out of the beds and pruning the currants. Three of our currant bushes are at least 10 years old (probably older!) and have not been taken care of for the last two years. So it was high time for pruning.
Also, the indoor garden was planted. We have a plant table in the living room in front of an East facing window. The table is currently occupied by lots of tobacco plants (no, I don’t smoke), an Indigo plant and a plant which has a pretty flower, but I don’t know the name. Maybe I’ll post a picture some time.The tobacco plants were pretty small when I took them inside – the tallest ones were maybe 10 cm. Now the tallest ones are around 25 cm and flowering!

So, the windowsill garden. It’s on a table in front of a South facing window, but also gets plenty of light from an East facing window. Nevertheless, I might have to install a plant light as the plantlings are getting a spindly and stretch towards the window.
Here are some pictures:

Part of our indoor "garden" with lettuce seeds

Part of our indoor garden with lettuce seeds

The lettuce is sprouting!

The lettuce is sprouting!

No, I didn't sit in your little garden bed, says the cat. I don't believe her...

"No, I didn't sit in your little garden bed", says the cat. I don't believe her....

Wow, chickadee invasion! Good thing I'm inside....

Wow, chickadee invasion! Good thing I'm inside!

And a chick-chick here, and a chick-chick there, chickadees chickadees everywhere!

And a chick-chick here, and a chick-chick there, chickadees chickadees everywhere!

And another chickadee

And another chickadee

Chickachick even pecking away at our wall

Chickachicks even pecking away at our wall

The chickadees stayed one afternoon, pecking at everything in sight. Our big cat decided
to stay inside until they were gone.

That same afternoon we went for a goat walk:

Some people have goaties in their faces, some have them on a leash

Some people have goaties in their faces, some have them on a leash

We saw interesting tracks. Nadine guesses that this here was a badger. Any other ideas?

We saw interesting tracks. Nadine guesses that this here was a badger. Any other ideas?

Ok, this is an easy one! Who made the track?

Ok, this is an easy one! Who made the track?

I'm sure the pros can also tell how old this is. I sure can't.

And a close-up

There also was pretty foliage

There also was pretty foliage

Think pink! ...or tinder

Think pink! ...or tinder

Since those events we had visitors, went to our little boy’s first concert (Geoff Berner played Khlezmer music), baked a lot of bread (which tastes way better than commercial bread!), harvested lots of apples (and dried some of them) and and and… More next time!

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Harvest Time!

That’s what I love about fall: so much free food!

I harvested some rosehips and hawthorn berries yesterday and started cutting the rosehips in half to get the seeds out. Tedious work, but I’ll get nice rosehip tea in the end.

Pretty pretty berries and leaves

Pretty pretty berries and leaves

We also picked acorns the other day and on Sunday we had Nadine and Basti over and processed the acorns. We should have ground them up, though, because even after four water changes they’re still a little bitter. They will be fine in bread nevertheless.

Crack 'em and peel 'em

Crack 'em and peel 'em

We boiled the acorns and changed the water four times

We boiled the acorns and changed the water four times (make sure to only pour hot water on the acorns, otherwise the tannins get stuck!)

Acorn mush!

Acorn mush!

Note to self: next time grind the acorns before boiling!

And since it’s getting chillier by the day, I moved my indigo and my tobacco plants indoors today. I hope they’ll survive the winter well.

And last but not least we prepared a new harvest: We made seedballs and planted them here and there. It’s not the best time of year to plant things, but I hope the seeds know better than to germinate know. Also, it’s just a trial run. It’s been raining nicely, so the balls should have “melted” by now.

Behold the beauty of seedballs

Behold the beauty of seedballs

How to make seedballs:

5 parts dry red clay
3 parts dry organic compost
1 part seed
1 – 2 parts water

Mix the dry ingredients, and add the water by and by until it forms a mix that holds together without crumbling but isn’t so wet that it wouldn’t roll into balls.

We used 1/2 cup measurements and got about 250 seedballs .

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