Making a Food Forest – step 1 complete

P1080165

This is what the lawn looked like before

Last November, we finally began construction of a deer-proof fortification so I could try planting a food forest. It’s only about a quarter of the front lawn, but the space feels huge (If this plan works, I’ll be doing the same thing to the rest of my front lawn in the next few years). I planted the trees and bushes I had which ended up looking like a few forlorn twigs sticking out of the lawn.

Step 1 had to be getting rid of the lawn. For the back garden beds we dug over the sod. Although, it effectively kills the grass, digging over sod is back-breaking work, and I’m inherently lazy.  Another tact was needed for the front, so I decided to try sheet mulching with scrounged material. For months we collected newspapers, sawdust from my dad’s shop, oak leaves from a neighbour’s yard (with her permission) and garden waste. We hit a jackpot at our daycare when we noticed a stack of bagged leaves. Our daycare owner didn’t have a way to remove them and was happy for me to take them off her hands. For a week, every time we dropped off our daughter we would pick up two dripping wet bags of leaves.

Inside the deer-proof fortification, I started with a thick layer of newspaper, which I had to soak to prevent it blowing away. On top, I dumped all our found organic material, plus the contents of our compost and some sheep dung a friend carted over for me. Then my husband layered on dirt – we had an excess of dirt from the previous owners odd choice of ornamental garden beds. on top of the dirt, I put down a thick layer of straw. I thought one bale would do it, but I was wrong and we had to pick up another bale this morning. Although rain is in the forecast, I soaked the straw again to keep if from blowing away.

Will this work to kill the grass? I have no idea. It is entirely possible this may be an exercise in what not to do – it’s an experiment, if this doesn’t work I’ll try another way.

I am enjoying pondering what I’ll grow inside the fortification. Asparagus, alexanders, sprouting broccoli, amaranth, peas and beans are all on the plan along with a diverse mix of self-seeding flowers. There is plenty of room for more berry bushes and perhaps a second apple tree.

* I would show a picture of what the deer-proof fortification looks like now, but technology has failed me and I can’t upload the picture.