So it was about a year and half ago that we started working on the blank canvas we named Dreamland.
How it looked before we started…
At that time, I hadn’t done my PDC yet, but we worked out of David Jacke’s books (Edible Forest Gardens, Vol 1 and 2), almost page for page, documenting objectives, listing plans, drawing a concept design and so on. Looking back now, we applied a lot of permaculture principles in that design.
Fast forward to today, 18 months later, and we are still on plan, in broad terms. We are still implementing a savannah style forest garden, which suits our climate (as well as our resources and the critters in our area) better than a lush thick forest design. There have obviously been minor deviations where we changed our minds, changed the design to be more practical, or to improve the flow through the landscape.
Some of our paths flowing through the landscape
Two secret gardens
(Note to self: both secret gardens need to be re-seeded with our fescue /clover mix.)
The major landscaping features are still to plan. Well, it’s a bit late to change now!
However, our plants list has changed considerably. In addition to our original list of fruit trees (minus a few who didn’t make the last dry summer, plus a few replacements – which are doing very well), we have added many native plants and bush tucker specimens.
I always complain that things grow slowly in our neck of the woods, but if I look at some of the guilds, I can’t complain too much. Most of the little treelets even have fruit on them.
I’m sure the bees will be happy!
One of the changes we made was to use some of the understory spaces for diverse (i.e. mixed planting) no-dig potager style forest garden beds (as we call them). We have already harvested a lot of vegetables from these.
Of course, there are areas where we still need to do the underplanting, but we made the conscious decision that we have to source and propagate those plants ourselves. So to those cuttings and seedlings in the greenhouse: “grow!!!!” But it’s this on-going development, and retro-fitting guilds under the few existing fruit trees (not shown in this essay) that keeps the project interesting. Just yesterday I sowed some seeds and made more cuttings for these areas.
All in all, it seems that our soil improvement efforts (mulch, biodynamics, composting, nitrogen fixers and more) are all contributing. At places, we have better growth than next door at Homeland. Whether that is due to soil history or due to our improved soil management practices is hard to answer.
If we can continue to get good bursts of unseasonal rain throughout this summer, and keep up with our irrigation efforts, we should slowly see more and more shade getting established in and around the forest garden, which should reduce our watering efforts considerably. The same applies for organic material. One day, it will almost manage itself… but in the meanwhile, there is work to be done!