Permaculture Playing Card – Food Forest

By on February 1, 2015

Permaculture Playing Card Food Forest – Three of Spades

Food forests are generally in Zone 4 in the Permaculture planning zones.


Permaculture Playing Card – Food Forest

Plant a food forest and it will feed you and your descendants indefinitely. A well-balanced system will take care of itself.

Start by planting mostly mulch makers, insectary plants, and nitrogen fixing plants to generate the best soil along with your perennial climax trees.

A properly designed food forest will produce food year after year without irrigation, fertilization, or the need for any pest control.

There are established food forests that are 300 to 3000 years old!

Some definitions for the permaculture terms used on this card:

  • Mulch makers in permaculture are plants like comfrey or hostas, that when mulched, help with water retention and build up the humus in the soil by returning carbon.
  • Humus is dark, organic material that forms in soil when plant and animal matter decays. When plants drop leaves, twigs, and other material to the ground, it piles up. This material is called leaf litter.
  • Insectary plants in permaculture are those that attract beneficial insects. Just as we desire to use certain plants to fulfill certain roles, we also want the benefits that come from thousands and thousands of little workers. They function best when you let them bloom and include plants like Yarrow, Mint, Dandelion, Comfrey, Sunflower, Violets, Cosmos, Clover, and Lobelia.
  • Nitrogen fixing plants in permaculture are plants that as they grow, excess nitrogen is built up in the plants tissues. When leaves fall, roots die, or gardeners prune back leaves (and drop them on the ground to decompose) the excess nitrogen is released back into the soil. This excess nitrogen is picked up by the other plants in the area and utilized for their own growth. Examples are Alder, Black Locust, Japanese Pagoda tree, Mimosa, Pea Shrub, Lupines, Beans, Clover, and the Kentucky Coffee tree.
  • Climax Species come after ‘Pioneer’ species. Pioneer species such as Black Locusts, Silverberry, and Mesquite will grow first. They help create the right environment for the ‘Climax’ species to grow in succession, ultimately growing bigger and causing the pioneers to die off. Examples of climax species are Walnuts, Oaks, Pines, and Chestnuts.

As you can see, these playing cards are educational and fun. If you are interested in getting a deck of Permaculture playing cards for yourself, you can find them here. Permaculture Playing Cards

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About The Permaculture Zone

The Permaculture Zone was created and is maintained by a couple of budding permaculturists, business partners Scott and Keith. We want to spread the word of Permaculture, and provide everything you need to know about Permaculture, all in one zone!

One Comment

  1. Michael J Roberts

    April 2, 2015 at 2:27 pm

    I remember reading an article on these cards a few years back when they were in the concept stage but I forgot all about them. I’ll definitely be ordering a few decks for my grandkids – they amaze me with how aware they are of the natural world.

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