Forest gardening is really getting gardeners talkin

Forest gardening is really getting gardeners talkin

Forest gardening, or permaculture as it's more technically known, is really getting gardeners talking.

Instead of replanting your crops annually and clearing the ground after harvesting, in forest gardens the bulk of the planting is permanent, keeping soil undisturbed. It's a sustainable way of growing that's more in tune with the natural world, and less work for you.

In forest gardening, trees, shrubs and perennials are planted in layers, mimicking the structure of a forest. Start with a top storey of fruit trees: apples, pears or perhaps a mulberry. Under them go soft fruit like gooseberries and raspberries which grow well in the shade cast by the trees above.

At their feet, cover the ground with shade-loving vegetables. Spinach, salads, herbs such as sweet cicely and parsley, or more unusual crops like mashua, a nasturtium-like tuber from Peru, all grow well down at ground level.

Other elements include medicinal plants and nitrogen fixers, used for their natural fertilising powers. Permaculture is an absorbing philosophy, and you'll soon be wondering why you haven't grown veg like this all along.