When we purchased this property several years ago, there was already a sizable maple tree growing in a corner of the lot. It was pretty out of the way, so no one paid much attention to it. It just grew happily and provided shade to the shade-loving plants underneath it.
Just a couple short years later, our young family had the unfortunate experience of losing our first pet. We decided that the maple tree would become the location of our pet cemetery. With the addition of the graves to that quiet spot in the yard, the maple tree received increasing visits as more pets were laid to rest under her branches, and as our small family grew from three members to four.
At some point, our children discovered that the maple tree’s branches were low enough that they could climb it! This discovery lead to many happy hours of lounging, reading, and play in the old tree, and it became affectionately known as the climbing tree.
The children grew up, we stopped adding pets to our family (and, as such, were gifted with some longer breaks between losses), and so the climbing tree stood lonely once again. Just growing.
I don’t even really know how it happened that someone noticed the huge crack going right down the middle of the tree. I do remember feeling sad to learn that we would suffer another loss. For safety, the climbing tree would have to be cut down. Do you have a story like that in your family? It was gut wrenching and still brings tears to my eyes! It is amazing the emotional attachments that we form without even realizing it.
However sad the loss, something good will come out of it. We are losing our beautiful climbing tree, but gaining a food forest!
We have watched and read a lot of about the Back to Eden gardening method and food forests. When we started planning what to do with our yardstead, we knew that we wanted a Back to Eden food forest.
For those that are not familiar with the terms:
A food forest is a planned area where fruit and nut trees are planted with complementing perennial and annual fruiting undergrowth in such a way that it can be self sustaining with very little maintenance or intervention. From what we have seen and read, it produces a LOT of food. And it’s beautiful.
Back to Eden gardening is a method of gardening using mulch. The mulch provides protection and nutrients to the soil and plant roots. It also helps to retain moisture. This idea mimics what happens naturally in forests everywhere. In fact, it is happening in forests right now. Even those that border primly manicured planned neighborhoods. It’s simply exactly what’s supposed to happen when humans don’t interfere.
Nature doesn’t move dead plants, trees, insects or animals. Whatever dies on the forest floor stays there and becomes nutrients for all of the other living things. In this way, the forest floor is essentially one gigantic compost pile. All the dead and dying vegetation protects the soil and roots, provides nutrients, and helps to retain water. When you pull back the layers of dead, decomposing material, you will find rich soil underneath.
We are just at the very beginning stages of our food forest. In fact, right now, there isn’t a food forest at all.
But, the climbing tree has been felled. We will use the wood to heat our home and be grateful to the climbing tree for providing that wood. We have received the first of hopefully many loads of wood chips and the food forest has begun.
Are you growing a food forest? Let us know how it is going.
Have a great clucking day!