How to make a potted food forest for small spaces | DIY Garden Projects | Gardening Australia

Hannah creates potted productive plant combinations, to show how you can have a food forest in a small space. Subscribe 🔔
A food forest aims to have all plants on a site working together. The classic model has seven layers: canopy layer (large fruit trees), understorey (smaller nut and fruit trees), shrubs (berries and large perennials), herbaceous (herbs and plants), rhizosphere (root crops), groundcover (clover and strawberries) and vines (climbing beans, peas etc.).

If you have a small garden or live in an apartment, this can seem a bit overwhelming! But it is possible to follow the same basic principles using pots.

Easy starter pot:
Taking the forest right down in scale, you can create a mini forest of herbs, leafy greens, flowers, and vegies. The bigger the pot, the more plants you can put together, but you need at least 3 to qualify as a forest. Use a good quality potting mix so all plants get plenty of moisture and nutrients.
Hannah creates a mini forest using rosemary as a central shrub layer, which can be trimmed to keep it small and compact. This is surrounded by a herbaceous layer of garlic chives and thyme as the groundcover.

Fruit tree pot:
A classic food forest isn’t complete without fruit. Most mature fruit trees will struggle with root competition, but you can plant around them while they are young, in a large pot.
Hannah plants a dwarf avocado as an understory layer. Dwarf fruit trees are a good option for pots. Then goes in calendulas for edible flowers, a few quick-growing lettuces, and strawberries that will drape over the edge. These all have similar growing needs.

Mulch well to keep them all moist and make sure the fruit tree trunk has a bit of space around it for good ventilation.

Together alone:
Pots can be a chance to get creative! You can have a collection of plants together that wouldn’t usually grow well in the same soil by gathering them together in separate pots. Or sit a few into a larger pot and cover the top with mulch to create a more unified look without actually planting them. Clusters of pots can create a warmer microclimate and you can move them around or change out the plants to suit seasonal sun or to mix up the look.

With careful plant selection, you can fit a food forest into a space as small as a pot!

Featured Plants:
ROSEMARY – Salvia rosmarinus cv.
GARLIC CHIVES – Allium tuberosum
DWARF AVOCADO – Persea americana cv.
CALENDULA – Calendula officinalis
STRAWBERRY – Fragaria x ananassa cv.
TEA PLANT – Camellia sinensis
NATIVE GINGER – Alpinia caerulea
MOUNTAIN PEPPER – Tasmannia lanceolata


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