Category Archives: Forest Gardening

David Holmgren on tree crops + a book giveaway


Those of you who have been around these parts for a while might remember a review we did a few years back of one of permaculture’s essential reads, Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture by J. Russell Smith.

Some say it formed part of the basis of permaculture’s origins, as a concept. And so it goes without saying that the book is obviously a favourite of David Holmgren’s too.  Continue reading

Five of our favourite Plant Databases


Choosing the right plant for the right spot, working with its behaviours and getting it to cooperate with others can be a little difficult at times.

Before you go getting yourself a little too lost in the world of plants (actually that sounds pretty darn good) take a look at these five plant databases… Continue reading

How to plant a tree, Milkwood style

1403 pdc treeplant01 Planting a tree is a simple act. But, as we’ve learned on a site that’s sometimes less-than-welcoming to tree establishment, there’s ways, and there’s ways that work.

Last week, with our Permaculture Design Course students, we planted oak trees. And for this site, there needs to be a little more involved than poking holes in the ground and inserting acorns into them…  Continue reading

Home-grown Shiitake Logs: harvest time

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Growing shiitakes on logs is a great idea for any backyard or small farm food system. Partly because after the burst of work needed at the start, you don’t need to think about them for a fair while, until they’re ready.

Then there’s the main reason that shiitake logs are a great idea. Because eventually, one rainy day, you get shiitakes. Oh so good…  Continue reading

Designing Like a Forest (we’re hooked)

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Last Autumn we hosted a Forest Garden Design Intensive with Dave Jacke at Milkwood Farm. It was a truly awesome experience, and it changed the way many of us at Milkwood (and beyond) approach permaculture design education, and permaculture design process.

To summarise, it was 9 days of immersive permaculture design, using forest ecosystems as analogies and pattern-guides to design good permaculture systems…  Continue reading

Forest Garden Guilds

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A guild, in permaculture terms, is usually used to define a harmonious assembly of species clustered around a central element (plant or animal) that acts in relation to this element to assist its health, aid our work in management, or buffer adverse environmental effects (Mollison, via Jacke).

Dave Jacke has taken this concept further and identifies a range of different types of guilds that generally (but not exclusively) can be applied to aid forest garden design process. Like many permaculture design elements, these guild types at once simple, and deeply complex…  Continue reading

Establish the paths, and the orchard with follow…

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We want the Holistic Orchard site at Milkwood Farm to be super productive, beautiful and also accessible – we’re establishing this orchard on a slope just below the Tiny House (and irrigating it with grey water) so we’ll be visiting it regularly.

And as I’ve mentioned, well designed paths can define and enhance a forest garden. And also make it much easier and more pleasurable to establish the whole thing. Which means you’re more likely to see the full establishment phase through, and end up with a glorious home orchard…   Continue reading

Felling your way to a healthier forest: Guest post


All around Milkwood are patches of dry-sclerophyll eucalypt forest. Variously called ‘goat country’ or other less attractive names, this type of forest is in a stagnant phase due to poor land use over the last 150 years.

Can you rehabilitate it into useful, productive land? Sure you can! While also generating plenty of useful material for posts, poles, firewood, mushroom substrate, charcoal, mulch &/or land repair and erosion control….  Continue reading

A visit to Melliodora with David Holmgren

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Recently Nick was lucky enough to hang out with David Holmgren for a couple of days at Melliodora, the superb small-acre permaculture site that David has established with his partner Su Dennett  in Hepburn Springs, Victoria.

Being in the thick of a super-productive, comfortable and energy efficient permaculture system at harvest time was inspiring, to say the least. To add to that, the purpose of the visit was for Dave Jacke to spend time with David and Su while he was in Australia. You can imagine the intensely wonderful conversations that went down!  Continue reading

Dave Jacke interview: designing like a forest in a changing climate

Last week I talked to Dave Jacke (primary author of Edible Forest Gardens) about his upcoming Australian tour of talks and workshops. We talked about consciously designing gardens like forest ecosystems that maximise food production, for backyard scale and beyond. Have a listen!

We also talked about designing for resilience, and establishing perennial food, fibre and medicine producing systems that anticipate change in the climate, and everything that flows from that. Continue reading


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