It was Andy’s “Manual for creating a Food Forest on Public Land” that set me off on a path of learning more about this method of growing food focussed on multiple layers of perennial plants to mimic a forest eco-system. In all my research I have yet to find a more efficient or more sustainable method of growing food.
So when a friend on Waiheke Island asked for some tips on how to care for his young fruit trees, I went straight to Andy’s manual, knowing that I could draw from the wealth of excellent information there.
Caring for your young trees
So you’ve invested money or time in productive food trees. Now you’re keen to see them thrive and grow strong, so they can yield you a harvest. The following description will give you a good sense of best-practice tree care.
Secure your tree – Pound 3 or 4 Wharata’s – Y-shaped metal fence posts – outside the planting hole in the ground and secure the plant to the posts with a broad (10mm ⦰) cocos, hemp or sisal string. Plastic string is less desirable and requires maintenance to ensure the tree doesn’t outgrow the ties.
Protect the trunk against mulch and animals using 110 mm diameter black HDPE corrugated drainage tube (slit up its length). Deform the tube by pushing one cut edge inside the other. This will make it easier to slide the tube carefully over the trunk, without damaging the bark. The job of mounting of the slit drainage tube is best done with two people.
Mulch – add quality organic mulch 20-35 cm high and about 2 metres in diameter. Note: if you have not replaced all unwanted grasses with useful or beneficial ground cover, then you will want to use a cardboard mulch up to 8-10 layers think to suppress grasses and give plants of your choosing to get established. See Chapter 12 – ground cover preparation
The best mulch for this purpose is 1-year old wood chips with leafy material (i.e. mulched shrubs and small trees).
If your wood chip mulch is fresh, mix 3% – 5% horse or sheep manure to the mulch to compensate for the initial consumption of nitrogen while decomposing.
Water the mulch with rain-water, until it’s saturated.
Complete with one CuM of Mulch
Here’s a video of a group of us preparing the trees for being mulched.
Note drain coil adaptation for large established trees.
Next video – Mulching the Surfdale Food Forest
Credit: This is a short excerpt from Chapter 13 of Andy Cambeis’ “Manual for creating a Food Forest on Public Land“. It was copied, edited and then images and videos attached. I may add more excerpts in time – leave a comment below if you have a question.