My advice for a forest garden? Flowers and annual veg

Every garden is dynamic, changing over time. When you’re starting out with a forest garden, pollinator friendly flowers and annual veg can be a good place to start.

Bright pink and purple flowers next a gravel path
People and pollinator friendly flowers, a great way to start a forest garden

I have the occasional taker for my forest garden tour and sharing what I know with others is something I really enjoy. A couple of weeks ago, I showed Laura around. She has no real experience of gardening, is waiting for an allotment and is years away from a sizable plot of land. Hats off to her for coming on a forest garden tour!

Three things really stood out for me:

  1. Enthusiasm and commitment are more important than know-how,
  2. Everyone’s situation is different
  3. A forest garden is just a garden.

Working at a local market garden has been a salutary annual vegetable lesson and has given me the proverbial kick up the butt to get my perennial vegetables sorted out.

The two most important things in gardening are protection and attention, and to this end, I’m slowly slowly marking up and mulching the perennial veg beds. Softly shaped but clearly marked with wooden signs and delineated by wood chip paths.

In the meantime, I am using the annual veg beds (you know, the rectangular affairs with sides and everything) for some baby perennial veg, some Buckshorn Plantain and Turkish Rocket.

And this is how come I advised Laura to start with Charles Dowding’s no-dig technique for annual veg with a view to growing increasing numbers of perennial veg. Yes, you have to make hot compost to get enough mulching material. But, people can get the hang of growing familiar vegetables first, before branching out to the more “exotic”.

As for the flowers, easy ones like Pot Marigold or Poached Egg Plant lift the spirit with minimal effort, they welcome you into the garden as well as providing food for wildlife. And once you’re comfortably established in the garden, start thinking about all the lovely trees you can grow :)

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