Knowing how to select the location for a food forest or perennial garden is possibly just as important as knowing what to plant. Before you start digging, take time to examine your site. Study. Watch. Learn from the environment around you. Take notes on some of the topics below to help you decide which location will be most suitable for your new food forest or perennial garden.
- Sun and soil requirements: What pH will be needed for those plants? How much organic matter exists on site already? Does the site meet the sun requirements for the species selected?
- Identify precursor species: Knowing what plants are already thriving will tell you about the site, soil, and environment. For example, if there are a lot of dandelions or tap root plants, the soil is trying to rebuild minerals and nutrients. If there are signs of plants with shallow, hair-hair-like roots, the soil may be trying to stabilize itself from erosion or drying out. Do you see acid or alkaline loving plants growing native?
- Space to grow and fill out: Do the plants have room to thrive and have airflow at their mature size? Do you have room to move among the plants or rows? Do you need extra or protected space to make allowance for animals or livestock?
- Ease of watering: Is there water access? The first 30 days are often the most important as the plants establish, so you will want to have easy water access points.
- Ease of maintenance: Is the area something that you frequently visit or drive by? Is this area one that can be easily maintained or get tools and equipment to as needed? Will you need truck or tractor access?
- What is the long-term use for this area? Consider mapping out 3-5-10+ years. Is your current use of the space preparing the site adequately for those goals?
- Ease of Harvesting: Will you or others be able to quickly and successfully harvest? Are there rows or adequate spacing between key areas? Are 90% of the crops within arms reach? Will you see and be able to easily use the crops you have planted when the harvest time arrives?