Forest Nutrition

Shantree made a compelling case for eating a diet primarily drawn from perennial foods in the late afternoon in the cherry grove. We sat in the dappled shade, surrounded by paw paw guilds and a variety of currant plantings.

He talked about how annual crops, like corn and soy bean, are in the ground for only a short amount of the year and therefore don’t have as long to establish the relationships with bacteria and fungi that Paul’s earlier presentation talked about. An excellent observation. He then went on to say that perennial plants can reach deeper into the soil to draw up trace nutrients and that made sense to me too.

At the beginning of the day Eric’s video¬†referenced that perennial foods sequester carbon effectively and Shantree built on that noting how soil that is left exposed in annul cropping looses organic material to wind, water erosion and breakdown from the sun’s rays. He then walked us through a Paw Paw tree guild that one of his students had planted a few years ago. It was a lush planting of iris, mint, currant, lamb’s ear and about 5 other ground cover and herbaceous plants.

I walked away knowing more about aromatic plants, the 2:1 ratio for guild design 2 under-story trees for every canopy tree, 2 shrubs for every under-story tree, 2 herbaceous plants for every shrub. It’s all about the herbaceous and ground-cover layers, that’s were the diversity really ramps up in forest gardening.

There was so much information shared in such a short time I could write for hours, about the vast number of berries in the Carolinian Forest (I want to say more than 100 but it’s escaping me now), about how as we work our garden it works on us, on how seeing, smelling, tasting are all ways to enjoy the fruits of your labour.

It was a great way to end the seminars of the Forest Garden Convergence.