Micro Food Forest?

Discussion in 'Members' Systems' started by tinyallotment, May 4, 2015.

  1. tinyallotment

    tinyallotment Junior Member

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    I am in the process of building a Geodesic Dome Greenhouse and at it's centre there is going to be a micro food forest to illustrate to visitors exactly what a food forest is.

    Is this a practical goal or am I barking up the wrong tree?

    The dome is going to be 3M tall so we can put quite a nice size tree as the centre piece plus we want a smaller tree plus shrub and herbaceous layers, ground cover, climber, root veg and fungi etc

    If you were going to design this kind of thing undercover in the UK what would you include?

    Paul
     
  2. 9anda1f

    9anda1f Administrator Staff Member

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    I think it's a very worthwhile goal. We've thought of something similar here, as the only way we'll ever get to grow most fruiting tree/shrub species is in a controlled environment (we are looking at using a high tunnel).

    One thing we're concerned with is how best to design for insects (especially plant-eating types). Are you planning to incorporate a full-range of insects to establish natural checks and balances in your micro food forest?
     
  3. tinyallotment

    tinyallotment Junior Member

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    I think we will take it one step at a time but it would be great if we could encourage all manner of wildlife into the dome. This dome is only small. It is 4.5 meters in diameter and 3 meters tall but ultimately I plan to build a 15 meter which will be as tall as a house. In that one I would like to have birds, bees, reptiles etc to build a mini eco system

    paul
     
  4. IngeLeonora

    IngeLeonora Junior Member

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    This sounds good to me!
    How 'undercover' is this? I can't figure a geodesic dome 3 meters high is invisible. Or do you live in a quiet spot with trees around?

    What to include? A wide variety of edible plants, a few plants of all species you like to eat / use. It's an experiment, isn't it?
     
  5. tinyallotment

    tinyallotment Junior Member

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    We are not worried about it being visible. I am very happy for people to see the dome and come in to see what we are up to. 90% of the people on our allotments have never heard of Permaculture, food forests or aquaponics so this is primarily a learning thing for me but also a learning aid for anyone who is remotely interested it what this strange man is up to now.

    The dome will attract a lot of attention when it is built and people are going to want me to give them the tour which I will be more than happy to do. When it is established I will get local growing groups and schools to come and visit so they can see that there are other ways of growing food other than in straight rows in bare soil. It could even get into the local papers or TV. It is all about spreading the Permaculture message.

    Paul
     
  6. tinyallotment

    tinyallotment Junior Member

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    I have just been looking at your herb spiral thread and it has made me think that maybe I could build the centre food forest planter as a spiral. I have only just got geodesics in my head now I am thinking about spirals.

    paul
     
  7. mischief

    mischief Senior Member

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    Hi Tiny,
    When you say food forest, are you going to be planting trees in your glasshouse?
    The reason I ask is because most fruit trees are at least 3 metres if not 4-5 or more, which could cause problems down the track with constantly having to prune them back.
    If you could find some on dwarf or semi dwarf root stock,(if there is such a thing), that could be one solution.

    Having said that, I am really looking forward to seeing you get this up and running! What fun!
     
  8. tinyallotment

    tinyallotment Junior Member

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    The tree will be pruned as and when it needs to be to stop it going out through the top of the dome. I am thinking of a nut tree like Hazel which could actually be coppiced I suppose

    Paul
     
  9. IngeLeonora

    IngeLeonora Junior Member

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    I think a spiral fits very well in a geodesic dome :blush:
     
  10. sweetpea

    sweetpea Junior Member

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    Hi, Tiny, sounds like an exciting project.

    Is your weather severe? Is that why you want a food forest inside of a greenhouse?

    Trees need a lot of space, and even if we keep the trees small, to prune them requires sawing on a ladder, (the ladder needs space all around the base of the tree, plus room for all the trimmings to fall, or standing below with a pole saw to save being up on a ladder. So if you picture the tree up at the roof of the dome, where is the end of the saw going to go? Where is room for the 4 feet of the ladder?

    It also gets very hot in a greenhouse during the summer. The whole point of a food forest is to use the canopy of the very tall trees to create dappled shade and transpiration off the leaves for the plants below, with lots and lots of air circulation so there won't be leaf diseases. High temperatures without cool air flow is very risky with regard to leaf diseases for all plants in a green house.

    So the best way to get big air flow in a greenhouse is to have a long tunnel so each end can be opened up, air flows through it freely, with vents in the ceiling to let the heat out every couple of meters. So when the hot air rises it leaves, pulling in cool air from below. Domes are not as conducive to moving air as a tunnel is.

    Mostly greenhouses are used for tender plants that can't take frost and freezing, or where summers are so cool there needs to be a trapping of heat, for tomatoes, squashes.

    And a hazel nut tree is huge. Is that what you mean by "hazel"? Large nut trees are a very valuable addition to property, and it's well worth it to have them, but they need a lot of space and create a lot of shade, sometimes very dense shade.

    And, remember, it's difficult to get pollinating insects into a greenhouse. They don't want to be trapped, so very few go in. In my three greenhouses I have to hand pollinate the tomatoes. In commercial greenhouses they run huge fans to tickle the flowers that are self pollinating. Despite my planting flowers in my greenhouse, I rarely find insects in there, particularly during the day when it's up in the very hot range.

    Most fruit trees need pollen from another type of its own fruit, like two different kinds of apples, or two different kinds of pears. They have to bloom at the same time, which not all of them do, and the insects have to have the pollen from the right tree, then make their way into the greenhouse and pollinate your fruit tree. You'd have to climb a ladder to get the pollen from one tree onto feathers or something that holds pollen, then move the ladder into every position it takes to reach all the blossoms to get the pollen into the second tree's blossoms.

    Just a couple thoughts :)
     
  11. sweetpea

    sweetpea Junior Member

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    Nice blog! Beautiful woodworking on those hex and penta panels!

    About the dock, I've found it invaluable for keeping the gophers away, and it doesn't compete with whatever plant it's next to. I clip off the seed stalks, but leave the green leaves. I've saved my fruit tree, grapevine and tomato roots from being eaten leaving them every meter or so.
     
  12. tinyallotment

    tinyallotment Junior Member

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    Thanks Sweetpea
    The main reason for wanting to build the micro food forest in the geodesic dome is as a centre piece to show people when they visit the dome. We have a very temperate/ maritime climate with warm summers and mild winters. Domes are excellent at creating an up-draft (much better than tunnels) by opening vents in the base and at the apex the heat from the sun will create convection currents that swirl up through the dome taking excess heat and providing airflow for the plants.

    Paul
     
  13. sweetpea

    sweetpea Junior Member

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    Hi, Tiny. Yeah, plants, as in vegetables and flowers would grow easily in a greenhouse, but you've already got a temperate zone, so what are you wanting to use it for? :) I mean, I know you said a centerpiece, but your thread here is about a food forest in it, which involves trees? It's a pretty structure, but trees and fruit bushes need all those chill hours, several hundred hours just above freezing, and putting them in something too warm will keep them from getting the cold they need, and the pollination issues.
     
  14. tinyallotment

    tinyallotment Junior Member

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    OK Sweetpea good point, well made. This is why I am on a forum like this. To learn from more experienced members.

    What about a tree that is from a more tropical climate that doesn't want to freeze in winter?

    What other centrepiece could I plant up to demonstrate permaculture principles.

    Maybe I could plant perennials with the aim of having food all year round

    I need to learn a lot more about this stuff don't I

    Paul
     
  15. sweetpea

    sweetpea Junior Member

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    It's a cool structure, but I'm not sure the plants need it in a temperate climate *s* Unless you grew a fruit vine over the top of it, that could make shade for what's underneath, like a grapevine (eating or wine grape, depending on your preference). Grapes are deciduous in the winter, so the sun could get to winter vegetables like broccoli and kale and lettuce, and in the summer it cools it off a bit for tomatoes and herbs, summer vegetables.

    You could do keyhole beds underneath it for summer vegetables.

    Or it could be a place to sit? We do need those spots, to take time to appreciate all our hard work. A beautiful honeysuckle vine over it, mixed with the grapevine would bring in beneficial insects and be scented, they look great. It would save you having to put plastic over it, which these days doesn't last all that long and it's only fun to put the plastic on the first time.

    In the summer squashes could climb up it, and hang the actual squashes or small pumpkins in netting or the feet ends of pantyhose.

    I have a temperate climate too, but I am near the ocean so the fog makes it chilly in the summer. My greenhouses are to keep the temps up high enough for lots of heat that I can't get outside. It's not hot enough here for tomatoes and peppers. Otherwise, it's almost not cold enough for fruit, unless I make sure that I buy fruit trees that only need about 300 chill hours.
     

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