08 January 2014

Creating more forest

Mad I know, but as I was taking some time off, the thing to do was obviously to work on my food forest in the height of summer.  Thankfully, I had help from my friend Beau and together over a few days, we cleared the next area of the food forest and since then, I've been busy planting and weeding as the area starts to establish itself.  The first thing we had to do was to remove all of this.

 The grass we have on our property is a type developed by the nearby CSIRO as an improved stock feed.  Its great for cattle apparently, but will give horses colic and grows like there is no tomorrow from the most stubborn and pervasive root system you've ever seen.  I've dug up the grass twice before, but didn't remove it completely.  I dug up clumps and turned them upside down to dry them off, but leaving them in place to act as a mulch.  They then proceeded to re-root underneath and take off again.  This grass can grow to head height in 3-4 weeks, so you also can't turn your back on it.  So this time, we took it right out and put it out on the grass to dry.  I'll mow over it shortly and when I'm sure its well and truly dead, I'll use it as mulch (somewhere else on the property though).

From there, we raked the soil to pick up any roots we'd missed and dug those out.  Then we threw down lots of horse manure and watered it all in.  Then we put down a thick layer of forest mulch and watered again.  And lastly, I've then went around and planted, and planted.

The plantings include native trees and bushes that will fix nitrogen and attract bees and birds, as well as pumpkin to create a quick ground cover.  There are also a few flowers for bees and whimsy, including borage and daisies.  So its looking sparse now, but here's one I prepared earlier.
I followed the same process here a few months ago and its amazing how quickly its established. The moisture in the soil, the humidity and the growth of the trees in this area is amazing.  It seems such a mutually reinforcing system.

The other thing to think about when your making a forest is to put in a few paths.  So you can see in the photo above that I've extended on of the paths I'd already built further down the swale.  But I've also put in a new pathway at the top. And you can see the swale below it as well.
What's been interesting is that we had our first decent rain since July over the weekend and the path did a great job of slowing down the water and allowing it to sink in rather than just running off down the hill as the paths are on contour.  I've planted trees quite close to all of the paths that I've put in so hopefully in a few years they will be nicely shaded.  I've also topped up the mulch on the older paths as they ultimately turn into soil.  The trees I've planted next to the paths can benefit from this though an throw their roots out under the path.


  1. Looking lovely. Your garden always inspires me. We planted buffalo around our house thinking it would just stay near the house... now it is on the edge of our orchard! It is so much harder to hold back then kikiyu!

    1. Thanks Kim. I'm not a fan of grass under general these days, even though the worms seem to love it. But hopefully they will love what's replacing it even more!

  2. Looks great and thanks for sharing all your tips, will be working on my own food forezt eventually. ...

    1. Thanks Liz. Its so easy just to make a small start in one little area and then keep adding. Not that you don't have enough on your plate!