What is a forest garden & why should you have one?
Updated: Aug 21
A forest garden looks and mimics a natural ecosystem. What makes it different from a regular garden is why we should look into getting ourselves one.
It’s almost completely self-sustainable
When it comes to sustaining a garden you have to keep an eye on it all the time, you have to make sure no bugs are able to ruin your plants, you have to water it continuously, & hope for the best.
This is where forest gardens have a huge advantage over traditional gardening. Forest gardens are made to specifically last long term, the crops that are involved in forest gardens are mainly perennial(Jacke, 2008). They are sturdy, can take care of themselves for the most part & are able to produce food year after year. You’ll usually find Berry bushes, Fruit trees, nut trees & herbs(Jacke, 2008).
Since they're made with such diversity & complexity, you can guess everything that you put into it has a purpose. And when everything is working together you get better quality in the food & a healthier plant.
You’re building a sustainable source of food
One thing to mention is that a forest garden is not made to substitute other food products unless you're strong-willed or you’re a vegetarian/vegan(Björklund, 2018). You’d also need a decent sized area to do so.
You also aren’t able to produce as much as a traditional garden, but there is some good to this. Like I said earlier, they are made so that you can have healthier plants and richer food. Personally, I’d rather have 3 - 4 strong and healthy plants than 8 - 10 plants that are somewhat healthy and not as strong.
You’re giving a home to other species
Not only are you producing food for yourself, but you're also giving others species a home and a food source and they're there to help you out! They can take care of any unwanted pests and help keep your product healthy.
Now we’d like to note that if you have a pest problem, you may have a change in heart on whether it’s a good idea for you because as you know, its an ecosystem in itself that relies on these critters.
You’re putting a few dollars back in your pocket
Now initially it may cost you more than a traditional garden. But once it’s in place you can save hundreds over time. Now that may be obvious with any garden.
But usually, you’re always going to need to water all the plants and maintain a traditional garden, unlike a forest garden that only requires very little attention. Which over time helps keep costs down on maintenance.
Is a forest garden for everyone? Well maybe not. But for people who want a garden that produces rich food with little maintenance, this may be their best bet.
What would you do with your own forest garden? Let us know in the comments!
Jacke, Dave, and Eric Toensmeier. “A Forest Gardener's Tool Kit.” Edible Forest Gardens. Ecological Design and Practice for Temperate-Climate Permaculture, Chelsea Green, 2008
Björklund, Johanna, et al. “Exploring the Potential of Edible Forest Gardens: Experiences from a Participatory Action Research Project in Sweden.” Agroforestry Systems, vol. 93, no. 3, 2018, pp. 1107–1118., doi:10.1007/s10457-018-0208-8.
“Food Forest Gardening: 5 Reasons to Give It a Try.” Sky Nursery, 17 Feb. 2017, www.skynursery.com/food-forest-gardening/.