Fifteen years ago, inspired by the pioneering work of Robert Hart, gardener Martin Crawford moved from conventional organic gardening to creating a forest garden from a bare field. Today his garden is a wonderful example of what can be done with a minimum of effort to produce an abundant crop of unusual edible trees, plants, shrubs and ground cover. You can apply the principles of forest gardening to spaces big and small. Here Martin takes you through the seasons in his Devon forest garden, and shows you how to plan your planting to mimic the layering, density and diversity of a forest.
A wide variety of edible plants can be grown: for example, Nepalese raspberry, Siberian purslane, Turkish rocket and Good King Henry, lime trees (their leaves make a good salad), bamboo (young shoots are tasty when steamed), snowbell trees (for their fruit), mulberry and chokeberry. A Forest Garden Year shows you how to graft an apple tree to crop a variety of apples over several months, how to grow shiitake mushrooms and perennial leeks, how to pollard and prune, protect crops from wind, attract beneficial insects and increase
valuable minerals in the soil – all the while creating a haven for yourself and for wildlife.
“Martin is a true pioneer and his work deserves respect and celebration.” - Permaculture Magazine
“Martin Crawford is a frontiersman, a pioneering teacher and an inspiration. Both his work and his garden are national treasures.” - Chris Nichols, Director of the Ashridge MSc in Sustainability and Responsibility.
Martin started his working life a computer programmer but his passion for organic gardening quickly led to a change in career. He has had broad and varied horticultural/agricultural experience over the last 25 years – he has worked for the Yarner Trust in North Devon, teaching small-scale organic agriculture; grown food for a small hotel on the Isle of Iona; restored the walled gardens of a manor house in mid-Devon; and run his own organic market garden and tree nursery in South Devon.
His experience led him to the concept of forest gardening as a sustainable system that can flourish in our changing climate conditions, and it was this that led to the founding of the Agroforestry Research Trust in 1992, a non-profit-making charity that researches into temperate agroforestry and all aspects of plant cropping and uses, with a focus on tree, shrub and perennial crops. At his 2-acre forest garden in Dartington, Devon, planted 15 years ago, Martin systematically researches plant interactions and unusual crops. He also runs a commercial tree nursery specialising in unusual trees and shrubs, and has an 8-acre trial site, researching fruit and nut trees.
Martin teaches courses on Forest Gardening and Growing Nut Crops, writes books and edits a quarterly journal, Agroforestry News. His book Creating a Forest Garden – the forest gardening ‘bible’ – was published in 2010. His other books include Cherries: Production and Culture, Directory of Apple Cultivars, Directory of Pear Cultivars, Peaches and Apricots, Plums: Production, Culture and Cultivar Directory, Currants and Gooseberries, Blackberries and Raspberries, Chestnuts: Production and Culture, Hazelnuts: Production and Culture, Walnuts: Production and Culture, Bamboos, Ground Cover Plants, Nitrogen-fixing Plants for Temperate Climates, Timber Trees for Temperate Climates, Edible Plants for Temperate Climates,Useful Plants for Temperate Climates, Plants for Hedging, Plants for Basketry, Bee Plants and Dye Plants. His latest book, How to Grow Perennial Vegetables, was published in 2012.
He is a director of ‘Gaia’, a Trust formed by James Lovelock to further his work. He lives in Dartington with his wife and two children.
See www.agroforestry.co.uk for more information.