Saturday 15 December 2012

Forest Garden Notes - 3 : Species

Over the last few weeks I have been putting together a few notes in preparation for developing a Forest Garden within my overall Permaculture Design for my plot in Crete (see previous two posts). I have slowly identified some of the potential species of trees and shrubs that will provide me with a steady year round supply of fruit and nuts. In addition I have started to identify those species that will provide the necessary nutrients to steadily increase the fertility of the land in line with the increasing demands over time as the fruit and nut trees mature.

 With my long stay in Crete this year I have been able to observe the plot throughout and taken note of how the land responds to the various climatic conditions in particularly the long hot dry spell of at least five months and the need to quickly establish windbreaks to protect the proposed fruiting trees from the strong westerly/north westerly winds.

I have put together the following lists, covering the 3 layers of a typical forest garden(ie. canopy, small tree and shrub and perennials/ground cover), after consulting a series of excellent books. viz.

(1) Martin Crawford - "Creating a Forest Garden"

(2) Ken Fern - "Plants for a Future"

(3) Mariano Bueno - "Mediterranean Kitchen Garden"

(4) Antonis Alibertis - "Plants of Crete"

I focussed on drought tolerant and nitrogen fixing species to minimise watering given the long hot dry summers and the urgent need to stabilise and improve the fertility of the soil on my plot. See previous two posts for more details.

Potential Species of Crete:

Pioneer Tree Species:

Monterey Pine, Corsican Pine, Acacia, Italian Alder, Leyland Cypress.

Over Canopy Layer Nitrogen Fixing Species:

Italian Alder, Himalayan Sea Buckthorn, Black Locust

Canopy Layer Drought Tolerant Nitrogen Fixing Species:

Acacia, Siberian Pea Tree, Autumn Olive, Elaeagnus x ebbingei, Judas Tree, Sea Buckthorn

Drought Tolerant Nitrogen Fixing Windbreaks Species:

Italian Alder, Himalayan Sea Buckthorn, Autumn Olive, Elaeagnus x ebbingei, Sea Buckthorn,

Siberian Pea Tree, Broom, Gourmi, Gorse.

Canopy Layer Fruit and Nut Species:

Quince, Fig, Apple, Apricot, Sweet Cherry, Plum, Peach, Nectarine, Pear,

Clemetine, Mandarin, Orange, Lemon, Avacardo, Pommegranate, Olive,

Carob, Prickly Pear, Persimmon, Mastic, Walnut, Sweet Chesnut, Almond.

The start of next year's water supply

Shrub Layer Drought Tolerant: (from Martin Crawford's book (1))

Select from:

Broom (N), Buffalo Berries (N), Chilean Guava, Chinkapin, Goumi (N), Fever Bush,

Four-Wing Saltbush, Hawthorns, Highbush Cranberry, Honeysuckle (climber)

Juniper, Lavenders, Lemonade Bush, Rosemary, Sage, Salal, Saltbush, Tree lupin.

Drought Tolerent Herbaceous Perennial  and Ground Cover Species:  (from Martin Crawford's book (1))

Select from:

Bears Breech, Bugle, Cardoon, Chinese Bramble, Solomon's Seal, Coneflower,

Everlasting Pea (climber), Fennel, French Sorrel, Garlic Chives, Hop (climber), Ice Plant,

Lemon Balm, Lungwort, Orpine, Periwinkles, Red Valerian, Rock Cranesbill, Sea Kale,


Nitrogen Fixing Perennials/Ground Cover:

Milk Vetch, Bird's Foot Trefoil, Wild Lupin, Lungwort, Comfreys, Red Clover, White Clover, Valerian.

Nitrogen Fixing Deep Rooted Green Manures:

Blue Lupin, Crimson Clover, Sub Clover.
Permie worker!!

NB Above are available as cheap bulk seed.
Mix seed to give better coverage and more resilient cover.

Transition Ground Cover:

White Clover

NB This nitrogen fixer is best species, both on its own and when used as a base mix for long term ground cover).


Armed with this list, the site survey, water supply data, nutrient requirements for for desired mix of fruiting trees, climatology data etc. I will endeavour over the winter to draw up an initial Forest Garden plan for this 750 sq.m section of the plot. At a later date this plan will be incorporated into my overall Permaculture Design for the whole 16,000 sq.m, or so, plot.