Why fruit forest and not an orchard?

In order to get an answer to the question – why fruit forest and not an orchard? –  you just have to understand well each concept and the methods that are applied in each case.

Let’s start with an orchard. What is, actually, an orchard? Orchard is artificial ecological system, whose biologic equilibrium is maintained by human. Have you ever asked yourself as to why there is so much work to do in an orchard – loosening soil, weeding, spraying against pests, whitewashing tree trunks, etc.? All of these are needed due to the fact that this system is artificial and not self-sufficient (such as a forest).

In a forest, the ecological balance is maintained thanks to the interconnections that exist between plants, fungi, animals and bacteria. Thus, in a forest you do not need to whitewash trunks (birds and entomophagous insects take care of pests), to loosen soil (earthworms and other soil creatures keep it loosened, aired and alive), to weed (in the shade, weeds either do not grow at all or are too weak to do any harm). The last point might lead to another question: well, if weeds do not grow because of shade, how would fruit trees grow in a forest, if the wild trees are higher and more vigorous? To answer that, it is necessary to know the structure of the forest and types of trees that form it. It is considered that a forest is composed of 4 main layers:

  1. First layer  the tallest layer of the forest, formed of trees that are indeed high and vigorous, but are in need of protection during first years of their life. For temperate zones, these are oak, maple, ash, elm, poplar, Turkish hazelnut, etc.
  2. Second layer – various fruit trees.
  3. Third layer – sapling trees and shrubs: dog rose, blackthorn, hawthorn, blackberry, etc.
  4. Fourth layer – herbaceous plants, fungi and mosses.

food-forest-sau-livada

So, as you could see, fruit trees belong to the second layer. When they sit there, they feel quite well, protected from strong winds, intense sunlight, grindstone, etc. However, when we deprive fruit trees of their “protective older brothers”, we need to supplement this protection by ourselves. In an orchard, people work hard to provide trees with the same level of comfort that they would have in a forest and, still, trees have to invest more energy to survive. At the same time, a food forest creates best possible conditions for fruit trees, and provides people both with fruits and with wood for fire and for constructions. If you plan your food forest rationally, you can also use the space to grow vegetables and edible mushrooms. Thus, by applying the principles of a food forest, you can get a constant and ecological harvest year after year, without applying any chemicals or extra work.

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