A food forest is a long-term investment. I have seen many young food forests which produce almost no food, since trees can take years to produce any fruit.
Yet we need food quickly, which is why many people simply plant annual gardens instead – especially when worried about supply lines and pandemics and gas shortages, etc. No one wants to wait five years to eat!
What if there was a middle road, where you could have both a maturing food forest and lots of food in the ground, ready for harvest? That is how I plan my systems, and in today’s post we’ll go deeper into my secret weapon: ROOTS!
Planning for Fast Calories
A food forest system can take years to start producing; however, if you plant calorie crops between your young trees, your food forest becomes a survival garden, giving you edibles within months.
Instead of waiting on fruit and nuts, you have food when you need it.
If you’re worried about supply lines, gas shortages, a survival food supply, and how many calories you need to live – this is the way to grow food fast!
Plant those root crops!
Though this is a sub-tropical system with many exotic tropical roots in it, don’t let that stop you.
Temperate Root Crops
Even in a temperate climate food forest, you can grow potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes, turnips, rutabagas, carrots, parsnips, mangels, beets, onions, garlic and more.
Be creative, and fill in the spaces between your fruit and nut trees with lots of high-calorie roots.
You might also add winter squash and grain corn, as well as shelling beans.
Tropical Root Crops
In a tropical food forest, you can plant bananas and plantains (which are similar to a root crop when green), yams, sweet potatoes, yacon, taro, eddoes, cassava, arrowroot, cannas, ginger, turmeric and more, getting calories and medicine in the ground as you wait for your trees to produce.
Roots really shine in the tropics, where you have lots of sunshine to build up the sugars plants need to make large roots. To this, you can also add grain corn and various tropical pumpkin/calabaza varieties.
And, if you have a really tropical climate, plant some breadfruit in the food forest as well. It’s truly amazing as a food supply. We have had poor luck with dry beans in the humid tropics, but in drier areas they will do better and have less issues with rotting and molding in the shells.
Let your garden become your emergency food supply!
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