Eric Toensmeier, author of Perennial Vegetables and co-author of Edible Forest Gardens, made some really great plant species recommendations for our three acre food forest at Verde Gardens in South Florida.
Our original food forest design that we had sent to Eric, only consisted of the plants we had in our nursery. Since Verde Gardens is (currently) funded by a USDA grant (which always have finicky requirements) we had to move faster than we wanted to. That meant instead of waiting to plant in the next wet season, we had to plant towards the tail end of the current wet season.
In order to avoid planting in the dry season, we had to create a design fast. This meant focusing on the hundreds of trees that we already had. Typically in permaculture, you do not want to do this. The goal is to always start small at a comfortable pace, and then gradually add to it. We are doing the complete opposite, starting with 22 acres and constantly moving forward. This is all because of the agricultural funding. The dividing of responsibilities, focus, and proper organizing should help us overcome that part of the battle
Planting in the dry season means that the trees need more babying from us. During the initial establishment of the tree, they need to have proper watering. Here in South Florida, the wet season will provide plenty of watering for a newly planted tree to be properly established. However, in the dry season this means that we must water by hand or set up irrigation. This could result in the plants becoming dependent on irrigation, as the roots do not have to reach deep into the earth for water. Irrigation dependency is not too large of a concern, because we can always ween them off during the wet season.
Anyways, check out Eric Toensmeier’s additional recommendations!