Permaculture Plants Stack into Functional Layers
10 Layers of Permaculture Plants in Food Forest:
Heres a handy list of useful beginner permaculture plants for you to include in your food forest:
- Emergent Trees can be existing tall trees on the property, nut trees, and other plants that drop fruit. Select tall trees very carefully because you will not want to climb up to collect the bounty. Good tall species include the rare Davidson plum. Avoid big trees on small sites or in areas where the falling nuts such as a Bunya nut or Eucalpyt branches can be dangerous.
- Canopy plants positioned on the sunny side of your home need to be deciduous. Choose fruit and nut trees that don’t block light in winter. They will provide frost deflection and structural support to vines and understory plants below.
- Epiphytes include dragon fruit, monstera, and bromeliads such as pineapples. Whilst these are not parasitic, they can weigh a tree down. These provide fruit, trap moisture, and keep the soil organisms fed and watered.
- Perennial vines include heavy Grapevine and Kiwi fruit whereas short-lived vines include melons, pumpkins, Choko (Chayote), Basella, and Passionfruit.
- Understory trees enjoy shade or the edge of the food forest. Small food trees are less well known in the western world. They include hazelnut, dwarf varieties of apples and citrus, Tamarillo and Coffee. But there is a wide range of lesser know foods such as jabuticaba and walking-stick palm.
- Shrubs include perennial Chilli bushes, Blueberries, Raspberries, Tea and a wide range of herb bushes such as sage or verbena.
- Herbs and vegetables are well known in the culinary world of the west. They are valuable in reducing soil erosion.
- Grasses include asparagus, lemongrass but even banana and bamboo are grasses.
- Tubers include potato, kumara (sweet potato), ginger, turmeric and much more.
- Fungi include a wide range of mushrooms.
Starting from scratch?
To get the most joy for your effort, plant a mix of annual and perennial plants. Annual plants will give you joy soon and Perennial plants will surprise you in years to come. Choose foods you know you like and you have seen growing in your neighbour’s gardens. Once you have good water management and some growing skills, branch out into rare food plants.
The most valuable asset is your permaculture design and staging plan. This is created specifically for your food preferences, climate, site aspect, and soil type.
Enhance everything you’ve got. Modifying the landscape to capitalise on natural assets such as rainwater, mulch, and fertiliser will speed up the transition to a food forest. Also, convert all your organic waste into a productive resource.
Did you know? A lot of valuable food plants such as ginger can be grown indoors or in large wicking containers until the soil is improved. Some foods, such as mung bean sprouts, will even grow in a cupboard.
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