List of ongoing maintenance required for a permaculture food forest

A long time viewer had a question on what kind of long-term maintenance is required for the food forest. I get this question a lot from non-gardeners, isn’t this all a lot of work to keep going? And I completely understand why, because most people try to garden, do the whole bare soil, spaced plants thing – maybe they try square food gardening method. Struggle struggle struggle, then give up. And they see my massive gardens and extrapolate their experiences onto this footprint size.

But remember, this is a lot of work to set up. We don’t just put trees in grass, we are sheet mulching to reset the ecosystem. We are chipping up tons of trees (literally) and dropping their organic matter to the ground. We are giving it time to transition the soil over. We are planting extremely densely and with extreme diversity. We aren’t only planting things for ourselves, we are planting things to feed the ecosystem we are creating.

We aren’t just planting trees. We are creating an ecosystem here.

The REASON we do this is because this way nature sinks her teeth in and takes over. We hand off the long term maintenance, nutrient cycling, pest control to nature and her (literally) billions of helpers.

We must have a mindset change from “this is all mine” to “I’m part of this, and thus my share is only part of it also”. We WILL get pest damage, but it will be vastly reduced. We WILL get plant loss, but the survivors become stronger. We WILL have creatures such as wasps and slugs and rabbits, but their impact will be mitigated, and their benefits will be celebrated.

If you want to grow your food in a dead ecosystem because you must control and eat every last berry and veggie, if you refuse to eat a piece of lettuce with a bug bite in it (it must be PERFECT), if you remove every wasp nest you see, kill every slug, and spray neem oil on every aphid, then the price for those actions is one of long term pain and work and maintenance. Because we DEPEND on the ecosystem of life to produce our food. The food is the reproductive consequence of the plant component of that ecosystem. If we remove the entire rest of the ecosystem, then we create such a large imbalance that constant work and struggle is the punishment for that choice.

This is binary folks. We either live within and with nature, or we constantly fight against it. And nature always wins.

The long term maintenance of a food forest? Sure you can (optionally) add some woodchips every few years. You can (optionally) prune your trees. You can (optionally) remove the odd plant and re-plant another more desired plant. You can (optionally) add more fertility with chop and drop, natural teas like comfrey/nettle tea, animal manures and compost. You can optionally do a few things and since you are out here enjoying your land, why not. But if you don’t? Well, that’s kind of the point here isn’t it? To design in a way which removes the human from the equation. To hand off the reins to nature.

So what work MUST we do in our food forest to keep the food coming? Tune in and find out.


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