A food forest, food forest, food forest edge, …. is a special piece of “edible” nature that looks a lot like a forest in the making, but with lots of edible trees and perennials. Usually people talk about food forests from 0.5 hectares.
But we are a bit more open-minded because you have them in all scents and colors. From edible forest edges or food forest gardens, tiny food forests or food forest park, … or for those who really want to farm ‘agroforestry’. You can’t think of it that crazy.
That’s why we call it a Smuljungle ourselves. Because we want to give everyone the building blocks to start with a “CO2 Neutral nice garden” , whether you have a large or a small garden or even no garden. Once you get the hang of it…. By the way, credit where credit is due. The name was coined by Bart Backaert, the ‘Ecological Pioneer’ of the City of Aalst.
A ‘Delicious Jungle’ is a blessing for biodiversity.
A forest will do just fine without us. You don’t have to mow, pull weeds, spray or use pesticides. In our ‘Food Jungles’ we imitate a forest edge, but with edible perennials and shrubs.
The 7 layers of a Smul Jungle. Or is it nine or four?
Maybe it doesn’t matter directly, but science sometimes discovers new insights that adjust old wisdom. These are the 7 layers that ‘Robert Hart’ has always applied. But in smaller gardens you can safely take off a layer. Because trees that are too large are not so smart.
- Crown layer with large trees over 8 meters high.
- Intermediate layer with smaller trees and shrubs.
- Shrub layer from 1 to 3 meters hoot
- Herb layer with plants from 0.5 to 1 meter
- Ground covers that stay close to the ground.
- climbing plants
- Roots and tubers
We speak of 9 layers by adding another wetland layer and a fungal layer. We usually keep it at seven.
Help, I have no room for trees.
With trees it’s a bit like in love. Every pot has its lid. So there is always a tree that suits your piece of land. We help you with that. Because choosing the wrong tree is sooner or later a problem. It is not the intention to have to trim a giant every year. That’s too much work.
A delicious jungle in a city garden.
We believe that you can also perform miracles on smaller surfaces. Bart Backaert’s city garden is 4 meters by 20 and you can get lost in it for a few hours.
Martin Hermy has written a beautiful masterpiece about this. The book ‘The right tree for the garden’ tells you everything about what you should and should not do. You can read more about it here .
What is the difference between a vegetable garden and a “Delicious Jungle”?
In a TSmuljungle we bet on ‘perennial’ plants, shrubs, trees or climbers. We are, as it were, reaping the fruits without disturbing the soil too much.
In a vegetable garden you mainly work with annuals. Those annuals demand a lot from your soil because it must have enough food to grow large in a few months. So you have to constantly give your soil extra food. With monoculture you go one step further. That is why you choose to grow only one variety on a very large scale. Then you deplete your soil even more. That is why farmers have to fertilize so much.
The importance of the soil and the ecosystem of the fungi.
The soil is also often turned up during annual crops. Digging, digging, … you could compare it to washing your wool sweater by hand or putting it in a washing machine.
It wasn’t that long ago (2019) that scientists discovered the importance of the fungal underground. Trees and fungi live in perfect symbiosis. They attach themselves to the tree roots. In this way, they enhance the tree’s ability to reach water and nutrients, while supplying the tree with the CO2 necessary for the fungi’s survival.
The bottom remains almost intact in a ‘Smulsjungle’. Because there is no annual turning, digging and digging. So those fungi can be rampant.
Do you want to know how to get started yourself? We are working out a simple step-by-step plan. Click here and discover more about it. Or even more fun, join our Smuljungle activities in Aalst.
Who knows, sooner or later you will be able to enjoy goodies from your garden for 10 months.