Ideas & Tips for Food Forest

Dear All,

In my Farm I have identified an rectangular area of 1040 Sq.Mtrs (11,195 Sq.Ft) [160 Ft  X 60 Ft]  of land where I want to have a food forest. I want to have all kinds of Fruits in that area.

Can any one suggest some ideas or tips to follow before going ahead with it. Like large canopy plants in the west etc.

Fruits that I have in my mind. Please suggest if I am missing any. Please also suggest the best varieties if possible (Except for Mango, Seetafal, Sapota, Guava)

1 Mango
2 Sapota
3 Anar
4 Amla
5 Falsa
6 Seetafal
7 khamrakh/Star Fruit
8 Cherry Basbadus
9 Straw Berry
10 Gooz Berry/Hasfaleudi
11 Lime
12 Mosambi
13 Santra
14 Guava
15 Jack Fruit (Grafted)
16 Jamun
17 Karonda/Kalmakaya
18 Water Apple
19 Ber/Regu
20 Banana
21 Drumstick
22 Papaya
23 Mulbery
24 Anjeer
25 Khaju
26 Badam
27 Wood Apple
28 Coconut

Venu Kulkarni

I have made a design out of my knowledge.

All the suggestions are welcome.

1st line has mango trees at 15 ft distance

2nd line has mangoes at 10 ft distance. No logic for that, just want to leave the first line of mangos to go wild. and 2nd line we will restrict the growth to 7ft and a cone shape

We want to have many mangoes and Lime trees. Rest we will adjust some where

My suggestion would be as follow:-

  1. Keep alternative families of trees meaning no tree next to each other of the same family.
  2. Certain trees you have mentioned grows in shades like curry leaf.  Keep this in between the trees which have bigger canopy like Mango or Coconut
  3. Keep Mango, Coconut and similar at the borders and push all the other trees inside.
  4. Have a standard distance 15 ft between the bigger canopy trees.
  5. Coconut at the four corners of the boundary. (usually takes 25 ft for each tree) or go for dwarf trees which can accommodate more.
  6. Have a standard distance of 5 to 10 ft for the small to medium canopy trees.

Finally, identify the number of trees you need in each of the fruit trees.  This will help to plan even better.

Agree with Mr. Ganesan.

You can also do dense plantings of leguminous shrubs & plants suitable for ground cover/live mulch between the trees and chop and drop according to the light requirements of fruit trees.

The leguminous plant cover will 1) reduce sun exposure of soil 2) Fix Nitrogen from the air into the soil. 3) As you shave off the tops of the leguminous plants some of the roots will also drop off into the soil, freeing the fixated nitrogen from root nodules, which will be available for uptake by the nearby plants 4) Chop & Drop of leguminous shrubs will add bio material including additional Nitrogen to the soil and encourage favourable bacterial & fungal growth in the soil.

Above assumes you are looking to do natural/organic farming/farm forestry of some sort.

Good Luck.

Hi All,

Thanks Ganeshan and Sunjay for your inputs.

Last week started the work with digging the pits. In the process we discovered that there is stone in some of the area starting at a depth of 2 ft. In some area there is no stone (or may be its there at a depth of 4ft or 5 feet).

My idea is to plant the trees which have very strong root system where there is stone, so that it will travel the distance and search for soil. Please suggest the plants which have this quality out of the list mentioned above.

Can any one suggest me how to deal with this situation.


Venu Kulkanri

Dear Venu sir, There are plants,which needs only 6 inch soil depth. There are plants which requires 1 ft soil,1.5 ft soil, 2 ft, 3 ft, 4 ft …etc. But generally it is difficult for roots to penetrate in to the rocks.

The possibility is only to plant, suitable required depth varieties. Suppose you want to plant X variety plants which requires 5 ft depth soil ( min ), there, dig pits to a depth  5 ft. If no stone comes it is ok and if you get stone say at 3 ft depth, then drill 2 or 3 holes to a depth of 5 ft  and blast the stone. After , you pl pour sand & FYM mix into the cracked portion and pour more water. Repeat the operation twice or thrice. Then you can plant the required plant and it grows well.

Here you should be careful in obtaining any required permissions from revenue/police depts, which are mandatory.

Upto my knowledge there are are no plant varieties, which can penetrate its roots in to the solid rocks. If good considerable cracks are in the stone, ofcourse they can penetrate its roots in to the said cracked rocks and survive.

The above proces is little expensive but you can take good crops.

All the best to you.  g.p.rao,  farmer

You should also check about three things while planting two plants alongside each other:

  1. Do they have any aversion to each other? Some plants drastically reduce output of  some or many or all plants, they are planted next to.

  2. Do they have liking for each other? Some plants help each other by giving nutrient/biomass or by attracting pests from the companion plant. Sometimes helps in increasing yields or reducing fertilizers etc.

  3. Roots are of two types. Monocot & Dicot, if I am correct, if not someone correct me please. You can plant more densely if you plant alternatively e.g. monocot-dicot-monocot or dicot-monocot-dicot. This reduces competition among roots for soil resources.

You have not provided the size of the stone in terms of length, breath and depth.  If it is very large stone, then it may be difficult for the trees to search for nutrients, water and also may uproot during heavy storm.

The alternative in this case is to get an instrument which can be used to get the details of the stones length, breadth and depth without even digging.  Using this info, you can place the trees accordingly.  Please note that I do not have the instrument name.  So, try goggling it.

If the stones are small in size, then you do not have to worry much.  Only the big trees can survive in this scenario as they are able to reach out their roots very far and wide.