Diploma apprentice’s nameErkki Pöytäniemi
Date Apprentice started DiplomaMay 2021
Project TitleDesign 4 – Forest Garden
Design Number4/10
Date Design Started2015
Date Design Completed2024-03-31
Has the Design been implemented?yes
Online Link to Design (if available)Design 4.2: Forest Garden – Erkki ‘s Permaculture Diploma
Type of DesignLand Based
Design FrameworkGoSADIMET
Design CategoryLand & Nature Stewardship.
Tools usedEthics to state vision, Forest architecture, Guilds, Zones, Sectors, Planning areas, Mollison’s design principles, Planetary boundaries, Elements and functions analysis, Input-output, Jacke’s stages of design, Adobe Illustrator, Tables, Lists, Photos, Obsidian
Name of Personal TutorAndreas Jonsson
Ready for PresentationYes Ready
  • Survey     
    • My aim in doing this design.
    • Why forest gardens?
      • Our needs
    • The Goal
    • Forest Garden: Theoretical background
      • Succession
      • Forest architecture
      • Guilds
    • The site
      • Zones
      • Sectors
      • Planning areas
      • Our limits
  • Analysis
    • Mollison’s design principles
    • Planetary boundaries
    • Forest garden principles
    • Forest garden main elements and functions
    • Inputs and Outputs
    • Are there quantifiable aims?
  • Design
    • Design stages and realms
    • Design Concept
    • Schematic Design
    • Vegetation dynamics and succession
    • Choosing plants
  • Implementation
    • How to plant
    • Windbreak
    • Roadside
    • Hazelnuts and Nut grove
    • Coniferous wood next to big pond
    • Intensive forest garden and Vineyard
    • In the forest
    • Guilds
    • Timeline
    • Propagation
    • Keeping track of plants: Plant database
    • How many species do we have?
    • Budget
  • Maintenance (or Manage)
    • Protect
    • Irrigation
    • Compost and mulch
    • Mow and weed
    • Workload
  • Evaluation
    • Integration
    • Reflection
  • Tweaking


This is one of my original “Big 4” designs which I have been working on at least since 2017. Forest Garden was also one of the 3 themes that I had in mind when we started at Iso-orvokkiniitty in 2014 (the others being Mushroom cultivation and Honeybees). I have already worked on the design extensively and the version on 24.12.2023 had 12000 words so about 30 pages as an article. My purpose here is to make a shorter more easily read version of the design. To help me do that I am also changing the design framework to GoSADIMET which I haven’t used yet in the previous designs. The design is Land-based and falls under “Land & Nature Stewardship” as Design Category.

My aims as a designer:

  1. Use GoSADIMET as Design Framework
  2. Use Mollison’s Design Principles
  3. Condense a huge design into a manageable size
  4. Understand how to design a forest garden
  5. Design a forest garden that meets both our material and cognitive needs while functioning as a platform for education.

While developing the design I am also developing a plant database in order to keep track of the plants at Iso-orvokkiniitty and how they develop.


  • Permaculture ethics
  • Forest architecture
  • Guilds
  • Zones and Sectors
  • Planning areas
  • Mollison’s Design Principles
  • Planetary Boundaries
  • Elements and Functions analysis
  • Inputs and Outputs
  • Jacke’s stages of design
  • Maps (Adobe Illustrator)
  • Tables, Plant lists
  • Photos
  • Obsidian

Design Category: Land & Nature Stewardship

The Western, and increasingly the global, food system relies mainly on cultivating annual crops. This is even true for animal feed whereby “Grass fed beef” has become a premium quality while in a sustainable food system it should be the only kind of beef that exists. This development has been driven by the aim to produce as much as possible per hectare and per human work hour. This was made possible by cheap fossil fuel to produce fertilisers and other chemicals and to run the equipment and logistics. Modern agriculture is called efficient while in terms of energy balance it is extremely inefficient, using up to 10 times the energy that the end product contains.

Cultivating annuals on arable land has a long history in Europe and it is beyond this article to ponder on why that was. In other parts of the world perennial systems had a much greater role. Perennial multi species systems offer several advantages compared to annual systems:

  • No need to plough or otherwise cultivate soil except for planting.
  • No need to seed or plant annually.
  • A strong permanent mycorrhizal root system provides nutrition for the whole system.
  • Diversity of crops means an extended season of yields.
  • The system increases rather than decreases local biodiversity.

Our Needs

Food is one of our fundamental needs – both for nutrition and enjoyment. The Forest Garden is a part of our future Food System at Iso-orvokkiniitty. There is a special focus on nuts in order to produce also carbohydrates, proteins and fats in a perennial system. Also fruits and berries are important and a forest garden can also provide for mushrooms and other materials. Inevitably the forest garden is experimental in that it can not on the short term provide for a major part of our food needs. We are exploring what the future could look like and investing in it. Therefore it is providing also to our cognitive needs of understanding what a sustainable local food system could look like and how a perennial forest garden would fit in that. While trying to understand we are also teaching. We use the forest garden for demonstration, teaching, arranging workshops etc.

So let’s lay the foundation and describe the Goal and how Permaculture’s 3 ethical principles come to play:

    • A forest garden is a more diverse production system than a field or a managed forest. Transforming a field or a managed forest into a forest garden generally increases biodiversity and wildlife. A forest garden helps climate mitigation and adaptation at the same time. A forest garden is a regenerative food system.
    • Carbon sequestration is increased.
    • A forest garden can be managed with low inputs and maintenance.
    • Produce food for ourselves and a surplus for others, including future generations.
    • Develop a regenerative food production system for northern temperate climate and understand how it could work.
    • Mitigate climate change and biodiversity loss
    • A forest garden is an investment for the future. It will take 10 to 30 years and more to develop a fully productive forest garden and therefore people coming after us will benefit the most.
    • Gather, exchange and disseminate knowledge about how to start and manage a forest garden in a northern temperate climate.

Based on the above ethical principles a Goal is developed:


We can mirror this also to what others have said about the Goals of Forest Gardening. In “Edible Forest Gardens” (Jacke, Toensmeier. 2005) six goals are mentioned:

  1. Gives an abundant diversity of tasty, nutritious food and other useful products.
  2. Creates a stable resilient garden ecosystem, driven by solar energy, that largely maintains and renews itself.
  3. Protects and restores ecosystem health.
  4. Embodies beauty, elegance and spirit in the landscape.
  5. Improves economic sustainability.
  6. Cultivates a new paradigm for human participation in the ecology of cultural and natural landscapes.

All these goals are as relevant to us as well.

The purpose of this design is to create an image of what a forest garden at Iso-orvokkiniitty could look like, design and implement the first steps of planting the forest garden and establishing an initial maangement cycle for a young forest garden.

The concept of Forest garden falls under Agro-Forestry and more broadly under Agro-ecology. The literature and other information sources about temperate climate forest gardens is already quite extensive although practical examples tend to have a rather short history relative to how much time it takes to develop a fully functional forest garden system. The literature I mainly rely on is the following:

  1. Dave Jacke, Eric Tonsmaier: Edible Forest Gardens.
    1. Ecological Vision and Theory for Temperate Climate Permaculture. 2005. Canada. (EFG1)
    2. Ecological Design and Practise for Temperate Climate Permaculture. 2005. Canada. (EFG2)
  2. Martin Crawford: Creating a Forest Garden. Working with Nature to grow Edible Crops. 2010. England. (CFG)
  3. Philip Weiss, Annevi Sjöberg: Skogsträdgården. Odla ätbart överalt. 2018. Sweden. (STG) (Forest Garden. Grow edibles everywhere)
  4. Joel Rosenberg: Pähkinöitä omasta puutarhasta. Opas suomalaisten pähkinöiden kasvattamiseen. 2021. Finland (POP). (Nuts from your own garden. Guide for growing Finnish nuts.)
  5. Joel Rosenberg: Syötävä metsäpuutarha. Johdatus suunnitteluun ja lajistoon.2023. Finland (SMP) (Edible Forest Garden. Intro to design and plants.)
  6. Philipp Weiss: Nötodlarens Handbok. 2022. Sweden (NOH) (Nut growers handbook)
  7. Suomen puu- ja pensaskasvio. Ed. Väre, H., Saarinen,J., Kurtto, A., Hämet-Ahti, L. 3rd Edition. 2021. (Woody Flora of Finland) (SPP)

Without referencing everything that is said in those books it should suffice to highlight the main 3 concepts: Succession, Forest architecture and Guilds as important helps in designing a forest garden.


“Ecological succession is the process of change in the species structure of an ecological community over time” (1). In a natural situation succession would start from a forest fire or storm. In a forest garden context the starting point would typically be a field but it could also be a clear-cut forest or we could jump in mid-succession in a young forest.

In southern Finland a forest succession starting from clear-cut forest (if not planted) or forest fire in a “Spruce-dominated boreal forest” or “Nemoral spruce forest” like ours would look like this (2)(3):

  1. Forest fire or clear-cut forest
  2. Pioneer species appear: willowherb/fireweed (Chamaenerion angustifolium), alder (Alnus incana) and birch (Betula pendula and B. pubescens). Where we are in Southern Finland also hazelnut (Corulys avellana) and raspberry (Rubus ideaeus) will certainly appear at this point.
  3. In the growing phase competition for light becomes gradually more intensive and the pioneering species will fade away. The shrub and low-tree layers include rowan, alder, goat willow (Salix caprea) and alder buckthorn (korpipaatsama; Frangula alnus). Alders are nitrogen fixers in symbiosis with Frankia bacteria. Birch grows typically to 25 metres and lives up to 120-140 years. In the meantime spruce (Picea abies) takes over as undergrowth as young spruce tolerate shadow well.
  4. Finally spruce takes over as other young trees can not grow in the shade and the birches die out. The forest reaches it’s final climax as an old spruce forest. There is too much shade for even young spruce to survive underneath and there is no undergrowth.
  5. Without a clearcut or a forest fire small patches will be opened by old trees falling as they get affected by diseases, pests or storms. In those openings a succession will start again in small scale. This can be emulated by “continuous forestry” methods.

This is of course a simplistic view of forest succession based on the idea that large forest fires and storms would have created a situation similar to clear cutting a forest. So this is used to justify the idea that clear cut is a “natural” starting point of forest succession. Of course it is highly unprovable that this would have been the case in pre-industrial Finnish forests. Forest fires only partially burn forests and storms generally create only small openings in the forest and thereby help create diverse mosaic forest structures over time. (4) (EFG1, p 254-267)

In Finland there is very little – less than 5% – left of old practically untouched forest. In Southern parts of Finland probably less than 0,5% of the forest area is old natural forest – “aarniometsä“. It is clear that the last part of the natural succession of a forest – which takes hundreds of years to evolve – is almost completely missing from our nature. And as it happens, it takes hundreds of years to get it back.

It is good to realise that logging and exploiting forest is by no means a modern time phenomenon. Wood has always been extensively used in Finland for firewood and construction not to speak of slash and burn agriculture that was practised up to the 19th century. In the 17th century Finland was Europe’s leading producer of tar for ship builders and the highest export volumes were in the later have of 19th century when 227000 barrels of tar was exported (6). This of course had a toll on Finnish forests. Landscape paintings and early photographs of Finnish countryside in the 19th century shows that the land around farmhouses and watersheds was largely cleared from forest. It is clear that a “18th century lifestyle” at Finland’s current population level would not be possible and would actually lead to deforestation of the country.

At Iso-orvokkiniitty our forest is in different stages of 3 and 4 of the succession described above.

A field is of course a man-made situation. For anything similar to happen naturally would require an unimaginable natural disaster where all vegetation disappears and the topsoil is bare in a large area… (earthquake, volcanic disruption, landslide). When the starting point of a natural (unaided) succession is a field and it has been cultivated (soil is bare) it will transit to Stage 2 very fast with birch dominating. If the starting point is an old permanent grass field (like in our case) the grass will resist the transition and going to stage 2 will take a bit longer. Deer, hares and voles will help the resistance by eating young trees. (In pre-human Europe large mammals successfully kept the landscape open.) Mainly willow (Salix sp), aspen (Populus tremula) and alder (Alnus incana) will spread into the field via offshoots from the edges and gradually take the field into stage 2. Of course in our case we are planting trees trying to push the field into Stage 2 faster and later we’ll want to prevent the forest garden from going much further than stage 3 in succession.

Field to forest succession: (EFG p290): herbs – shrubs – trees succession pattern (even if all planted simultaneously).

Forest architecture

In “Edible Forest Gardens” (EFG1 page 69 to 109) Dave Jacke defines the five elements of Forest Architecture as

  • vegetation layers
  • soil horizons
  • vegetation density
  • patterning
  • diversity

Let’s try to condense the main message:

Vegetation layers or vertical layers of plants in a forest system is a popular concept in forest garden design. The layers can be defined in several ways. Jacke (EFG1 page 72-73) uses:

  • Overstory tree or shrub canopy
  • Understory tree and shrub layers
  • Herb and ground layers
  • Vines

In “Creating a Forest Garden” (CFG page 25-26) Crawford uses 7 layers:

  • Medium to large canopy trees over about 10 metres high
  • Small trees and large shrubs up to 4-9 metres high
  • Shrubs up to 3 metres high
  • Herbaceous perennials and evergreen plants
  • Ground-cover plants and creepers
  • Climbers, perennial or shrub
  • The underground layer

Between the Vegetation layers and Soil Horizons is the saprophytic layer of rotting wood in different degrees. (my observation – is it mentioned in the books?) The rotting wood layer is a key element in natural forest – and is missing in the managed forests of today. This layer can be enhanced by mulching.

Soil horizons (EFG1 p x to y)

  • Topsoil
  • Subsoil
  • Substratum and bedrock

Vegetation density (EFG1 p 84 to 93)

  • Coverage: how much a given plant, tree etc covers the ground.
    • Forest: 100% canopy coverage and interlocking tree crowns.
    • Woodland: Tree crowns are not interlocking but coverage is more than 40%
    • Less than 40% coverage: shrub thicket (pensaikko), scrubland (matalaa kuivaa pensaikkoa) or grassland (niitty) depending on which other layer has over 40% coverage.
  • Crown density: The density of the tree crowns of different tree species can vary widely determining how much it shades the lower layers.
  • Root density: The root spread of trees has been shown to be 3-4 times the trees canopy width and differs from species to an other. Most trees have a lateral root tendency while others develop a vertical tap root.

These are important considerations because if the degree of competition becomes too high, the plants will be stressed.

Patterning (EFG1 p 93 to 100)

  • Edge effect
  • Surface area effect
  • Fragmentation, Islands, Corridors

Patterning could include also time niches like spring ephemerals and bulbous plants.

Diversity (EFG1 p 101 to 108)

  • Scales of Diversity
    • Diversity within habitat
    • Diversity between Habitats
  • Kinds of Diversity
    • Composition
    • Structures
    • Functions
  • What diversity does:
    • diversity produces more niches
    • d. reduces competition
    • d. increases productivity and yield
    • d. generates functional interconnection
    • d. generates stability and resilience
    • d. reduces herbivory
    • d. creates beauty
    • Dominance militates against diversity

The young forest is an interesting example – in terms of the annual cycle of plant growth – of what we should try to mimic when we design a forest garden.


‘Guilds’ in a forest garden are groups of species that support each other in beneficial ways, aiding self-maintenance and reducing work required to maintain the system.

Martin Crawford: “Creating a Forest Garden” (page 196)

“So in an ideal guild you’ll have plants of various types performing the following functions (Martin Crawford: CFG page 196):

  • Nitrogen fixing plants to supply nitrogen.
  • Mineral-accumulator plants to help supply other nutrients.
  • Beneficial insect plants to minimise pest problems.
  • Bee plants, both for wild and honeybees.
  • Plants with different root systems, to exploit the soil space and soil layers efficiently.
  • Aromatic plants to confuse pests and increase system health.
  • Ground cover plants to densely cover the soil surface.

“…guild build requires at least three things: clear objectives, knowledge of the site’s limiting factors and an understanding of the species niches of the species you are working with” (EFG1: p 167)

The map shows the situation in 2019 (before ponds were dug). Forest garden is planned and partly started in Zone 3 on the field (darker green overlay). Trees and bushes are also planted in the garden in Zone 2.


Look at separate article about Zones at Iso-orvokkiniitty: Evaluation and site analysis 2: Zones

  • Conclusions and Integration: Forest garden is typically considered as Zone 3: places visited on a weekly to monthly basis.
  • Forest garden elements are included also in Zone 2, 1 and 4


Sectors: Evaluation and site analysis 1: Sectors

  • Conclusions and Integration: The main sectors we consider for the Forest garden are
    • Wind Sectors: The site is open to winds from SW to NW. A wind shield is necessary especially in the NW. The site is protected from winds from North to SE by the hill and forest on the east side of our property.
    • Sun Sectors: The hill and forest to the east shades the field from the east, i.e. from morning sun. There is also an old spruce fence to the SE against our neighbour. So the SE part of the field is shady until noon. This is not only a negative as it also prevents the morning sun from heating up the trees too fast on cold mornings.
    • Water Sectors: Ditches around the field, ground water pushing up to the field surface where it borders to the forest. Ponds were built (see the Ponds at Iso-orvokkiniitty -design).

Planning areas

Planning Areas: Evaluation and site analysis 3: Planning Areas

  • Conclusions and Integration: The Forest Garden design expands over all the Planning areas except the forest in PA10 and Zone 5.

Our limits

  • Aspects of forest garden design can be used in all parts of our property including both what is currently field and the young forest in PA9.
  • A clear limitation compared to literature from other temperate climate regions is that we are relatively north in terms of hardiness zones and temperature sums. However within Finland we are in one of the climatically most favourable regions.
  • We are economically in a good position so we can buy plants even though in mid-term perspective it is desirable to propagate more ourselves.
  • We are in good health and capable of physical work for the time being but due to age that will gradually change.
  • We have chosen a relatively low level of mechanisation on the site; f.ex. we don’t have a tractor.
  • We are not young so it would be nice to see results of the forest garden development in our lifetimes (20-30 years?).


Limits to species we can or makes sense to plant are determined by

  • Climate (GDD5°, hardiness zones, moisture etc)
  • Availability of different species and varieties
  • What we know about different species and varieties
  • Our aims (preference for edible species)

Plants and Propagation

So far we have mostly purchased plants from nurseries or private persons in Finland, some have been bought from nurseries in Latvia and some – especially hazel nut cultivars – ordered from European nurseries.

My experience in propagation is still limited. I need to develop.

Climate change

An interesting discussion regarding limits is climate change. While it is overall a negative development that needs to be stopped, the fact seems to be that we as humankind are not able to stop it – or more correctly, we don’t want to stop causing it. Climate change will have dramatic effects both on hardiness zones and temperature sums in the north, both critical for growing Edible tree species in Finland. Joel Rosenberg in his book (POP) analysis the prospects showing that in the RCP 4.5 scenario (medium emissions) southern Finland, which statistically has had 1200-1300 °C temperature sum (1971-2000) will be in 1600-1700°C temperature sum in the 2020-2049 period. This means that in terms of temperature sum we are moving to what Lithuania or Denmark was in the 1971-2000 period and southern part of Lapland will experience a similar temperature-sum as we were used to in the south of Finland. According to our weather station at Iso-orvokkiniitty we already had 1568°C temperature sum in 2023. It is clear that this development will cause dramatic changes in our natural and managed landscapes. But if we want to see the positive side, it also means that we will be able to grow trees like walnuts and chestnuts or even almonds here in Finland – unthinkable in previous times. But it will require experimenting, learning and choosing suitable genetics. Conditions will still be different to more southern locations, especially in terms of day length which will not change.

Limitations and solutions:

Permanent grassland with strong growth of perennial grasses, clovers, vickers, Ranunculus etc.Covering whole Guilds with carton (big cartons available from bicycle store). Planting on mounds, using different organic material for building raised beds, mulching with tree based mulch (bark, saw dust). Using mushroom logs in the mounds (integration with mushroom cultivation). Planting ground cover plants. Trimming when necessary.
Heavy clay soilPlanting on mounds, adding lighter material. Mulching. Biochar. Incorporating forest soil as source of mychoriza.
pH <6 to 6Gradually increase pH with ash from our fireplaces.
Open to winds from W to N (existing windbreak and plantings are still rather small and offer limited protection)Plant native Alnus sp and Caragana as windshield on the north side of the guild. These can be removed/thinned later when not needed anymore.
Heavy foraging of dear and risk of rabbits and voles.Protect the guilds with fencing. On the other hand our dog should have access for managing the voles.
Potential drought in June-July.Irrigation from ponds when plants are young. (See the Ponds at Iso-orvokkiniitty -design).
General climatic limitations of 60°North in Southern Finland.Native species or plants well known to thrive should be used for supportive functions. Edible plants can be also experimental and more exotic. Climate is changing with milder winters and increasing temperature sums. Still a single very cold winter could be a disaster for moire sensitive plants.


Doug Crouch in TreeYo Permaculture summarises nicely the 11 principles Bill Mollison presents in the Chapters 2  & 3 in Permaculture: A Designer’s Manual. I am using them here as a check list.

11 Design principles by Bill Mollison. Credit to Doug Crouch in TreeYo Permaculture .

Bill Mollison PrincipleThis Design
1. Relative Location Input – output analysis of main elements
2. Each element performs many functionsSystems, Elements and Functions analysis
3. Each Important Function is Supported by Many ElementsSystems, Elements and Functions analysis
4. Efficient Energy PlanningMost energy input relates to planting the forest garden in the form of the footprint of the materials brought in (external inputs). Energy for maintaining is small and mainly human work or battery driven equipment (ecological footprint there-off).
– Zone PlanningThe forest garden is mainly in zone 3 as it doesn’t require regular visits. Some forest garden elements are implemented in Zone 2 (the Potager).
– Sector PlanningWater, sun, soil and wind sectors are taken into account.
– SlopeOnly moderate slopes, relates mainly to water and soil.
5. Using Biological Resources
– Animal tractors– Sheep have been considered as a mowing solution but so far has been deemed not practical in our situation. Lack of shelter, lack of time and human commitment.
– Chicken tractor could be considered in the future but not topical for the time being. Same as above. Requires its own design where the main challenge is winter maintenance of the chicken in an off-grid situation.
– Pest Control– Developing biodiversity
– Developing soil health
– Fencing and protecting trees against deer and others
– Fertilizers– manure, compost, mulching
6. Energy Cycling– Using equipment with solar (all summer electricity here is solar or wind)
– Pumping water with solar
– Eventually fire wood from the forest garden
7. Small Scale Intensive SystemsDesigning guilds, Using plant stacking, using time stacking
8. Accelerate Succession and Evolution– A key aim in forest garden design
– Planting trees and bushes on the field.
– Bringing in species and breeds from elsewhere for more efficient growth and production
– Growing seedlings from our own seeds (possible cross-breeds)
– Enhancing soil microbial life and diversity, pushing it towards fungal domination
9. Diversity– bringing in species and breeds from elsewhere for more efficient growth and production
– creating different micro biotypes and micro climates including water systems
– supporting pollinators and other “critters”
– building guilds to consciously fill in different plant functions
10. Edge Effects:– use existing field – forest edges and create new ones
– varied intensity of planting
– including open areas between planted areas
11. Attitudinal Principles– Problem is the Solution
Especially alder and aspen spread with by shoots in the edge of fields. Some of them could be left as protective trees until the planted trees have grown enough.
– The Yield is Theoretically Unlimited
There is a practically unlimited number of species that can be included and yields that can be harvested from a forest garden.
– Work with Nature, Not Against
Observe which plants thrive in certain conditions and support and spread them instead of stubbornly planting plants that don’t thrive.
– Everything Gardens
Everything produces something for something else
– Least Change for the Greatest Effect
Avoid unnecessary changes, probably the system takes the best direction by itself.

I’m borrowing from the Wikipedia article: “Planetary boundaries is a concept involving Earth system processes that contain environmental boundaries. It was proposed in 2009 by a group of Earth system and environmental scientists, led by Johan Rockström from the Stockholm Resilience Centre and Will Steffen from the Australian National University. The group wanted to define a “safe operating space for humanity” for the international community, including governments at all levels, international organizations, civil society, the scientific community and the private sector, as a precondition for sustainable development. The framework is based on scientific evidence that human actions since the Industrial Revolution have become the main driver of global environmental change.” See also the table below.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planetary_boundaries

Earth-system processWhat can we do in the Forest Garden? 
1. Climate change1. Climate mitigation: sequester carbon in the forest garden
2. Climate adaptation: plant species that can survive in the changing climate
3. Climate change benefits: plant edible plants that can benefit of a warmer climate
2. Biodiversity loss– bringing in species and breeds from elsewhere for more efficient growth and production
– avoid plants that do not connect to a Northern European ecosystem
– create different micro biotypes and micro climates including water systems
– supporte pollinators and other “critters”
3. Biogeochemical– Rely on on-farm resources or nutrients circulated in the bioregion.
– Avoid nutrient leach.
4. Ocean acidificationLimit nutrition leaching and erosion
5. Land useWe are increasing diversity of land use.
6. Freshwater– We are using fresh water for irrigation when necessary. Freshwater itself is not a critical limiting factor in our conditions. 
– We are slowing down water movement through the site (see the Ponds Design).
7. Ozone depletionno effect presumed
8. Atmospheric aerosolsno effect presumed
9. Chemical pollutionWe avoid all chemical pollution including micro plastics (avoid using plastic in cultivation systems in general). 


Crawford doesn’t present design principles as such but in his Agroforestry Research Trust website he writes

“The primary aims for the [forest gardening] system are:

  • To be biologically sustainable, able to cope with disturbances such as climate change
  • To be productive, yielding a number (often large) of different products
  • To require low maintenance.”

“The key features which contribute to the stability and self-sustaining nature of this [forest gardening] system are:

  • The large number of species used, giving great diversity.
  • The careful inclusion of plants which increase fertility, such as nitrogen fixers (eg. Alders [Alnus spp], Broom [Cytisus scoparius], Elaeagnus spp, and shrub lupins [Lupinus arboreus]).
  • The use of dynamic accumulators – deep rooting plants which can tap mineral sources deep in the subsoil and raise them into the topsoil layer where they become available to other plants, eg. Coltsfoot [Petasites spp], Comfreys [Symphytum spp], Liquorice [Glycyrrhiza spp], Sorrel (and docks!) [Rumex spp].
  • The use of plants specially chosen for their ability to attract predators of common pests, eg umbellifers like tansy.
  • The use, where possible, of pest and disease resistant varieties, eg. apples.
  • The increasing role of tree cover and leaf litter which improve nutrient cycling and drought resistance.”
ElementFunctionNeeds (other elements or functions)
Plants in general– photosynthesis (energy for other living beings, carbon sequestration)
– ground /soil cover
– keep the soil covered
– naturally occurring or external plant material (seedlings, seed)
– sun
– nutrients
– fungal and microbial interactions (soil)
– water
– harvesting
– pollinators
– other plants
Nut trees and bushesProvide edible nuts, i.e. carbohydrates, proteins and fats that can be easily stored and poroceesed for human nutrition– the most favorable places and soils
– improved microclimate
Other edible perennialsProvide for fruit, berries, leaves which can be consumed fresh or preserved. Includes herbs, spices and medicinals.
Nitrogen fixing plantsProvide for nitrogen into the system including other plants. symbiotic microbes (preparations or soil)
Mineral accumulator plantsProvide for minerals for the system from deeper soil layers.good drainage – avoid water clogged soils
Plants that are beneficial for pollinators and other insects– nectar, pollen, mildew, resins for pollinators and others
– food for insect larvae
– habitats for predators (insects or otherwise)
a diversity of plants
Trees, bushes, hedges– Windbreak
– Wood for different uses
– Nesting places
– Shade
hardy plants
Grassground coverneeds to be mown
Fungi– fungal interactions with plants
– providing nutrients
– support saprophytes with mulching
– support mychoritzal fungi with avoiding soil cultivation
Soil microbial lifethe more diverse the soil food web, the more productive and resilient it is. avoid cultivation
diversity in flora
mulching including rotting wood
soil microbe ferments
Fences and netsprotectionneed to be put up and maintained
Soilsubstrate for plants, soil life etcsoil (external), topsoil, manure, compost, mulch, biochar, microbial preparations, ash
Compostsoil improvementkitchen waste, dry toilet humanure, green plant material (weeds and grass), straw, wood chips, manure, etc
Pathsmobility in the forest gardenmulch: sawdust, bark

The analysis illustrates the complexity of the Forest Garden, how much interaction there is between elements (only part of them shown) and between the different systems. Outputs of one part of the system are inputs to an other part or to an other system that is present. Some external inputs are needed but they should be minimised.

External InputSourceComments and could it be replaced?
Plant material– Domestic plant schools
– Plant schools abroad
– Seedling exchange
– Commercial Seed material
– Collected seed material
– Seed exchange
– On the longer run we could propagate plants that we already have but species and breeds we don’t have need to come from outside.
– Buying and exchanging with other forest garden, permaculture and heritage breed enthusiasts supports the movement.
Soil for plantinglocal farmer– We ran out of topsoil from our building site and since then have bought a few tractor loads of soil for planting trees and perennials. It is not an ideal solution but difficult to replace because of the heavy clay soils we have. We would need to ramp up our compost production massively.
Mulching material– Deciduous saw dust from a local carpenter workshop (16 km from here).
– Bark (purchased)
– Tree leaves from the neighbour
– Used mycelium substrate from local co
– We use both saw dust and bark to mulch plantings of trees, bushes and perennials and to cover pathways in the forest garden. Saw dust is cheaper but bark is the preferred mulching material.
– We use deciduous saw dust to enhance fungal growth
– Replace by producing mulch from own material:
– willow from the willow waste water system
– young trees and bushes that are cleaned away from ditches and forest edges etc
– branches left over from forest work (if close enough)
ManureOrganic farmer who leases our fields– He harvests hay from the fields we lease to him and brings manure to us, usually 1 tractor load per year. Mainly horse or sheep manure semicomposted with peat.
– the manure brings a stronger animal element into the system.
– We use it when planting trees and perennials, in the garden and in compost
– We need to ramp up our compost production
Microbial preparationsCommercial or local networks– Commercial could be mycorrhizal preparations or rhizobium bacteria preparations but so far we have not used them
– fungal preparations from local networks
– low tech propagation of saprophytic fungi
– ferments to enhance soil microbiology
– bokashi compost (already used)
Fencing, Net Hardwarestore– net used for fencing either individual trees and bushes or small cultivation areas (our annual vegetables garden, vineyard, the coniferous forest garden). Avoid plastic covered fence material if possible.
– build traditional “riukuaita” (gärdsgård på svenska) from spruce
Mowing equipmentHardwarestore– a robot mower for keeping the grass short in areas where we have planted trees.
– a battery driven trimmer, needs trimming line that is plastic (biodegradable was available in 2020-21)
– both use electricity that we generate with solar.
– mow and trim only where and when necessary
– when the forest garden matures it should be less areas that need to be mowed
– plant more perennials to decrease grassland area

Internal Inputs to the Forest Garden

Internal InputOutput ofComments
Our own plant material and seedlingsPlants Could develop into a plant school for exchange and even sales
MulchWillow system, forest, forest edgesusing an electric shredder; solar electricity
CompostComposting systemPlant material from the site, f.ex grass, manure from outside
Rotten logsMushroom cultivationAfter 4-6 years of shiitake or other mushroom production, used in raised beds as edges or inside
Tree trunksWoods in field edges and ditchesBuild edges for raised beds
Microbial preparationsForest topsoil, Compost, Mushroom – self-made fungal preparations from mushroom fruiting bodies
– forest top soil
– compost teas, ferments etc
PollinationHoneybees and wild pollinatorsRewilding bees

Outputs from the Forest Garden

Edibles, herbs, medicinalsPlants
Fruits, berries, nuts, leaves, herbs, medicinal plants and fungi, etc
Pollen, nectar, resins etcPlantsFor the Honeybees and other pollinators
Propagation materialPlantsCould become a plant school
LeavesPlantsfor mulch and compost
Wood materialTrees and bushesMulch, poles (copicing), firewood etc
Habitat for wildlifeEverythingSome come fast, some will take hundreds of years


Our needs go around producing food, understanding how a forest garden could work in our conditions and using it for demonstration, teaching and workshops.

  • So one measure could be to produce enough carbohydrates, proteins and fats for us and something the sell / share. But when? The productivity will be low in the beginning and grow gradually and almost indefinitely. In an extremely simplified calculation we could estimate 1kg hazelnuts per bush per year meaning approximately 500 g of actual nuts. That would equal approximately. 3000 kCal per bush per year. So to cover our (2 person) calorie needs with hazelnuts only I would need roughly 5-600 hazelnut bushes. But of course we are not monocropping – or eating just hazelnuts.
  • Understanding requires experimenting with different ways of developing and managing the forest garden, planting a wide variety of plants and their combinations and using different management techniques. But how much is enough?
  • Demonstration, teaching and workshops have pretty much the same requirements as understanding.

In the end of the day it is difficult to set numerical aims for the forest garden. We could also say that we have planted enough forest garden when the available space has been reasonably filled while taking into account other land-use needs.


Jacke in EFG 1&2 doesn’t address design principles as such. However in Chapter 4: “Design Processes 2: The Design Phase” (OFG 2, p.231-) he “develops the crucial ideas to successfully complete a forest garden plan” (p231).

The four stages of the design phase (p232) (/shortened by me):

  • Design Concept
    • Summarises the organising idea or site specific vision for the design
  • Schematic Design
    • focuses on overall layout, patterning, and relationships between functions and elements as well as approximate sizes, shapes and locations
    • rough bubble diagrams
  • Detailed Design
    • deals with exact sizes, shapes, locations, and architecture of features, elements, and patches
    • clean line drawings with notes etc
  • Patch Design
    • design at detailed level

The four realms of forest garden design (p234):

  • infrastructure: garden features, functions, and elements, including beneficial animal habitat elements
  • vegetation architecture: habitat design
  • vegetation dynamics: succession design
  • social structure: guild and polyculture design

Due to the size of our site I will not present a “Detailed” or “Patch” design.

“The Design Concept summarises the organising idea or site specific vision for the design.”

I stated in the Goal above that “Iso-orvokkiniitty forest garden will be a large and diverse experimental and productive Edible forest garden adapted to our climate.”

We can break this down to:

  • Large: We are currently managing 1,5 ha of field and we can push the forest garden into some parts of the young forest. Most of the area includes perennials including trees and bushes.
    • 1,5 ha is sufficient to include different kinds of areas with different focus
    • Potentially we have more field that we are currently leasing out that could be included. However that is now not in the scope of this design.
  • Diverse: We are planting both the usual fruit trees and berry bushes that are known to be hardy in Finland, as well as species that are less known or considered not hardy enough. This includes especially nuts in order to cover nutritional needs of carbohydrates, proteins and fats as well as species with other core functions than producing edibles.
  • Experimental: We are experimenting with different species, varieties and origins as well as techniques.
  • Productive: Producing food and other usable materials is the key function of the forest garden. The production will be monitored over the years.
  • Edible: The main focus is on Edible crops like fruit, berries, nuts, leaves etc, but also herbs and medicinal crops are included.
  • Adapted to our Climate: As explained above it is not clear what our climate will be like in the future. That is one more reason for diversity. We can start growing trees now that require a warmer climate to bear fruit (nuts). If we are heading to a catastrophic RCP 8.5 we have no means of knowing what will work.

“The Schematic Design focuses on overall layout, patterning, and relationships between functions and elements as well as approximate sizes, shapes and locations.”

The Planning areas of Iso-orvokkiniitty were presented in the article “Evaluation and Site Analysis 3: Planning Areas” Here, for the purpose of the Forest Garden design, I have added Planning area PA9a which consists of the young forest south from the house (partly in PA1 and PA9).

The areas that are relevant for the Forest garden design are

  • PA3: The Potager garden SW below our house. Includes fruit trees, berry bushes and perennial vegetables. (This will be a separate design.)
  • PA4: W and NW of sauna. Includes fruit trees along the road and Juglans and apple closer to the forest edge.
  • PA5: The windbreak towards the north, includes tens of different trees and bushes.
  • PA6: Along the road, includes mainly berry bushes with some trees planted wide apart (Tilia, Acer, Quercus)
  • PA7: The area around the pond including a coniferous forest on the north side.
  • PA8: The main forest garden planting area.
  • PA9a: Young forest south of the house.

Bubble diagram of the main areas (pathches) in PA8 and PA9.

The main areas (patches) in the Forest Garden Design are:

  • HG: Hazelnut grove. Mainly hazelnuts planted in 2 rows along the ditch.
  • WM: Wet Meadow. Mainly left open with a few trees and bushes.
  • NG: Nut guilds. Area planted with various nut trees and bushes and guild developments.
  • MS: Morning Shade. Meadow shaded until afternoon by the forest in NE and the tall spruce fence to the SE. Will be left as a meadow.
  • IFG: Intensive Forest Garden. Area planted with more sensitive species and including the vineyard.
  • YF: Young Forest. Young deciduous forest that I am thinning, with a few trees and climbers planted.
  • CF: Coniferous Forest: Conifers and acid soils north of the Big Pond.
  • Forest garden elements are included also in the garden area below (SW) of the house (Potager) and in Zone 1 below and beside the house.

After a lengthy over 10 page theoretical review about forest succession Jacke concludes (EFG1 p 267):

“All of these trends lead us to consider midsuccession as the ideal stage of succession to design for: biomass gain, nutrient flow control, soil fertility improvement, species diversity, and ecosystem productivity all peak at this stage. When designed and managed correctly, midsuccession environments can also exhibit high habitat diversity.

We can also take this data to indicate that we should design forest gardens as shifting-mosaic mimics. The majority of sites in a shifting mosaic are at midsuccession, with a small percentage at early succession and about a third at mature stages. Therefore, shifting mosaic mostly creates the ideal midsuccession phase, but it also offers more habitats for us to play with.”

At midsuccession the forest is aggrading (opposite of degrading), i.e. building abundance in the form of more living and dead biomass, soil fertility and biological and physical complexity (EFG1 p256).

What will happen in the Iso-orvokkiniitty forest garden over time and can we design it, predict it or can we even imagine it?

Some of the trees that have been planted 2015-17 are 3-4 m tall by now. The biggest individual trees are alders, linden (Tilia platyphyllos), cherries, apples, Amelanchier and Juglans hybrids. Also some of the Sorbus and Corylus are at 3 metres. A Castanea sativa grew 150 cm last summer reaching 3m. So these can be expected to grow fastest also in coming years. Many planted trees take several years before they really start growing so it is difficult to predict.

In 10-15 years I expect the windbreak to the north to actually act as a windbreak. The Hazelnut rows to the SW have also grown into a dense windbreak with the canopy closing within the row and between rows. The same will happen in the Nut Grove while the Juglans, Carya and Querqus to the south of the Corylus sp will have grown into small trees. At the same time conditions for grass will deteriorate and the need for mowing decrease. The soil will become more fungal which will favour perennials and trees. Over the coming years we will plant more of the bush, shrub and ground cover layers and shade tolerant plants will start to thrive under the trees.

Here I try to imagine the succession development of the forest garden in the next 16-26 years.

Forest architecture elements starting point202220302040
main characteristicsgrasslandshrublandshrublandwoodland
vegetation layers– Grass
– a row of alder and willow in the ditch part of the way to the SW < 10m high
– Grass
– bush layer planted between the rows 2021-22
– 1-4 year old hazelnut and others, most 1-2m high
– a row of alder and willow in the ditch part of the way to the SW < 10m high
– Grass suffering from shading, other ground-cover plants emerging
– bush layer between the rows 1-3 m high
– Appr. 10 year old hazelnut and others, most 3-4m high
– a row of alder and willow in the ditch part of the way to the SW < 10m high
– Woodland ground-cover plants established
– bush layer between the rows 2-3 m high, suffering from shading
– Appr. 20 year old hazelnut and others, most 5-6m high
– Tree crowns partly interlocking
– a row of alder and willow in the ditch part of the way to the SW < 10m high
soil horizons– Heavy clay soil with 10-15 cm topsoil formed by permanent grass – Heavy clay soil with 10-15 cm topsoil formed by permanent grass
– Trees and bushes planted on mounds of lighter soils and mulched
– Mulch added almost annually around trees resulting in higher humus in topsoil and abundance of saprophytic fungi
– Mycorizal fungi developing
– Tree root systems fetching nutrients and water from deeper subsoil and despositing carbon in deeper soil layers.
– Increasing production of tree leaves creates natural mulch on topsoil
– Soil transformed into a fungal system
– Tree roots have changed the soil profile.
vegetation density– Grassland which was cut annually– Grass has to be controlled by mowing
– planted trees and bushes mostly 2-3 m apart
– Tree and bush crowns are not interlocking yet
– Increasing shade on ground level
– Tree and bush crowns are partly interlocking
– Bush layer shadowed by tree layer
vegetation patterning– Edge effect towards ditches and forest edges
– variation in topography, wetness, soil type, sun and wind sectors
– edge effect towards the ditch leading to Big pond
– edge effect towards the mound that encircles the Big pond
– add monoculture patches of some desired crops
– take care that plants are not isolated from pollinating kin
– tree and bush corridors connecting all parts of the forest garden to each other and to forest
– spots for observing and enjoying the forest garden
– paths and tracks for moving through the forest garden for observation, visits and harvest
– edge effect towards the grassland meadow patches which are left between planted trees
– mosaic patterns
– corridors
– different canopy coverages
– variation in tree density and layering
All the previous
ecosystem diversity– medium-high diversity in 20-30 year old permanent grassland
– grassland fauna
– young forest
– old grass left in places;
– otherwise decreased diversity due to mowing,
– limited number of trees and bushes planted
– grassland fauna with some insects supplemented due to trees and bushes
– young forest thinned and supplemented with forest garden species
– avoid adding too many species in any single patch – rather create specialised patches with up to 7 planted species
– design pollination plants to cover the whole season as much as possible
– include native flora
– include saprophytic and other fungi in the system
– old grass left in places
– mowed grass suffering from shading – less need to mow
– trees and bushes established
– high diversity of planted and self-established ground-cover plants
– grassland and woodland fauna, more birds are appearing
– grass replaced by high diversity of ground-cover plants
– trees and bushes established
– woodland fauna dominating, even more birds appear
See also https://denverpdc.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/14-12-forest-garden-pattern-language.pdf

On the fields we should work towards moving the permanent grass fields into Stage 2 in forest succession (pioneer species appear) and Stage 3 (growing young forest) in the forest succession. We are forced to accelerate the process by planting desirable trees, bushes and perennials and suppressing the grass.

We will also develop a forest garden in the existing young forest that is in later Stage 3 in succession. It requires thinning the young forest into a productive woodland. This can involve saving edible species (hazel nut, rowan, bird cherry (Prunus padus)), nitrogen fixers (Alnus sp.) and planting desirable species in between.

In Guilds I listed different types of plants that should be included in Guilds. Of course the same types apply for the forest garden as a whole. For going deeper into plants I turned to Philip Weiss and Annevi Sjöberg’sbook “Skogsträdgården. Odla ätbart överalt.” 2018. Sweden. (STG) because it deals with a climate closer to ours. In p96 STG suggests how to go about planning your polyculture:

  1. Define your polyculture area
  2. Set aims for the polyculture and decide the main crops
  3. Decide secondary crops
  4. Decide supporting plants
  5. Design Herb layer
  6. Plan how to get the plants
  7. Decide how to establish the polyculture

In our case the polyculture area is what I have called the Planning areas.

In practise designing can happen in stages and not necessarily in the above order. You might plant the main and secondary crop plants before you have made a detailed plan for the supporting plants and herb layer.

As our forest garden is integrated to our food system a key question is what possibilities there are to produce staple foods in a forest garden? In STG p141 lists are given of potential plants from the perspective of carbohydrate, proteins and fat rich crops. Both the perspectives of content and yield are taken into account. Proteins are the most challenging and therefore also leave crops are proposed (consumed as dried leaves). I am reproducing the list below as a checklist.

Castanea sativaCarbohydrateWe have planted several Castanea sp.
GingkoCarbohydrateWe have planted 1
Querqus roburCarbohydrateWe have planted several Querqus sp (including sweet acorns)
Morus sp. Protein (dried leaves)We have planted several
Toona sinensisProtein (dried leaves)We had one but it died. Are we too north?
Corylus sp.FatOur main crop
Hippophae rhamnoidesFatWe have planted several
Juglans cinereaFat, ProteinWe have a few
Juglans regiaFatWe have planted several
Juglans nigraFat, ProteinMissing

STG p 416-417 includes a list of supporting plants (called accelerator plants) and p 418 has a list of edging plants. I am not repeating those lists here but will use them to advise my choice of plants in different guilds.


Method of planting

In 2014-16 we planted trees by digging a hole in the soil which was filled with material from elsewhere (lighter soil from our building site, peat soil, manure compost). We used carton to suppress weeds (mainly grasses) and saw dust or bark mulch for mulching and forming a small mound. The problem with this method in a heavy clay soil is that when wet (large part of the year) the hole keeps excess water and the roots of the plant are water clogged. The hole should be drained.

So we changed to a system where the tree is planted on a mound. So I simply put a carton on the field (normally on the grass), break a hole in the middle so the tree roots have access downwards, put one big wheelbarrow of soil on the carton and plant the tree there. I add mulch (saw dust or bark mulch, a bit of compost). This method seems to work much better for the trees and bushes. In 2022 most trees also got some biochar. The downside is that we need external sources of soil.

Windbreak in PA5 and along the road in PA6 + the Willow system

Design idea: Plant a diverse windbreak of different trees and bushes on the north side of the property. Many of the species are edibles but food production is not the main concern here.

Planting the windbreak with a few alders Alnus glutinosa started in 2014.
Some of the alder in the wind break are 3-4 meters high (October 2023)

Windbreaks are necessary on all boundaries if they don’t already exist in the form of forest, but especially protection from prevailing winds (W – SW in our case) and north winds is important. Jacke (CFG p. 99) lists several benefits wind breaks have including increase in temperatures and decrease in evaporation resulting in 10-30% higher yields even if not taking into account the yield from the wind protecting hedge itself. Other benefits are mineral accumulation, food for pollinators, edible and other useful products, shelter for wildlife etc. On the other hand root competition right beside the hedge can be so strong that you can’t expect a good yield in other crops there.

The hedge gives protection to 8 times it’s height so in a short term realistic 3 meter high hedge extends protection 24 meters from the hedge. The ‘quiet zone’ will be further extended if there is a second hedge further away. According to Jacke (CFG p.103) the windbreak should be as dense as possible and as vertical facing the wind as possible. Turbulence behind the windbreak is only relevant after the ‘quiet zone’ and can be avoided with a second windbreak in the ‘wake zone’ (the zone after the ‘quiet zone’).

In the case of our windbreak in the north edge PA5 combined with the trees and bushes on the roadside in PA6 and the willow system in PA4 will protect most of the northern half of the site once the trees and bushes are 2-4 metres in height.

We started planting the north-side windbreak in 2014-15 and have continued planting up till 2023. Now the windbreak consists of a variety of trees and bushes.

The willows in the sewage system reach 6-7 meters (October 2023).
  • Potential canopy trees are the Alder Alnus glutinosa, Turkish Hazel Corylus cornuta, Black Spruce Picea mariana, Red maple Acer rubrum, Rowan Sorbus aucuparia, Apple Malus domestica, Malus baccata, Oak Querqus rubra.
  • Large shrubs (4-9 meters)(5): Crataegus, Amelanchier alnifolia
  • Shrubs up to 3-4 meters: Corylus avellana, C. rubra, Hippophae rhamnoides, Syringa vulgaris, Caragena arborescens
  • Small shrubs (1-3 meters): Aronia mitschurinii

All of what has been planted are trees and bushes which should grow to at least 3 meters height and represent either the “tree or shrub canopy” or the “understory tree and shrub layers”. The Herb and ground layers and Vines haven’t been developed although some ground-cover plants have been planted under trees.

Alnus sp, Caragena and Hippophae are N-fixers and accumulators. Towards the west side a few more should be planted, and as it is pretty wet Alnus glutinosa would be the safest bet.

Species in Windbreak PA5FunctionPlanted yearHow many
Acer rubrumbig tree20161
Alnus glutinosabig tree, nitrogen fixer20152
Alnus hirsutasmall tree, nitrogen fixer20152
Amelanchier alnifoliabig bush, berries2020-2113
Aronia mitschuriniismall bush, berries2020-2111
Caragena arborescenssmall bush, nitrogen fixer1
Corylus avellana ‘Fuscorubra’big bush, nuts20152
Corylus avellana ‘Polli’big bush, nuts20162
Corylus colurnabig tree, nuts20152
Crataegus grayanabig bush, berries2020-218
Dasiphora fruticosabush20181
Hippophae rhamnoidesbig bush, berries, nitrogen fixer2015-235
Malus baccatasmall tree, berries1
Malus domesticasmall tree, fruit4
Picea marianabig tree20203
Querqus roburbig tree, acorn20201
Querqus rubrabig tree, acorn20201
Sorbus aucupariasmall tree, berries4
Syringa vulgarisbig bush, pollinator 1
Species in Forest Edge PA4
Carya illinoinensis ‘Ultra Northern’bigtree (nuts)20151
Juglans sp. (data lost)big tree, nuts20152
Juglans cordiformisbig tree, nuts20151
Malus domestica: Huvitus, Keltakanelitree, fruit20152

In addition to the windbreak that extends over the whole border on the field to the north there is the willow system for our sewage water that is a 8 x 30 m area with hybrid willows planted in 4 rows. The willows grow to 6 meters height and they are copiced so that every row is cut down every second year in turns. On the short term the willow system that was planted in 2017 offers the most powerful wind shield. The copiced willow can have several uses: shredded for mulch, used in fences or living huts, propagation, material for handicrafts etc. So far it has been mostly used as mulch.

Design idea: Create guilds where the main components are big trees and berry bushes along the road.

The south side of our road (PA6) was elevated a bit when the road was built and the topsoil was lifted to the side. It was mostly planted the following summer 2016 with focus on having some big trees every 15-20 meters and berry bushes, mainly Ribes. On the NE of the (PA4) three mounds were formed using soil from the building site and partly also what was dug when the willow system was made. Here the focus is with plums and pears. Perennials, raspberries and strawberries have been added in the south end of the roadside in 2022 and 2023 and the guild development will continue in 2024. However strawberries (Fragaria x ananassa) are destroyed by deer so they should only be planted within fenced areas.

Species in Road side PA6FunctionsPlanted yearHow many
Acer rubrumbig tree20191
Aesculus hippocastanumbig tree1
Amelanchier alnifoliabig bush, berries20213
Aster novi-belgiiperennial, late pollinator20181
Cornus masbush, berries20162
Crataegus grayanabig bush, berries20202
Hippophae rhamnoidesbig bush, berries, nitrogen fixer20163
Inula heleniumbig perennial,medicinal, pollinator20161
Lonicera caerulea var. kamtschatica: Bakcharsky Jubilejnaja, Jugana, Bakcharsky Velikan, Silginka, Vostorg, Docz Velikanbush, berries201611
Malus baccatasmall tree, berries
Mespilus germanicasmall tree, fruit20161 (2)
Prunus domesticatree, fruit2021, 20232
Querqus roburbig tree, acorn20201
Rheum rhabarbarumbig perennial, edible2016
Ribes nigrumbush, berries20169
Ribes rubrumbush, berries20171
Ribes uva-crispabush, berries20166
Symphytum officinalebig perennial, accumulator20163
Syringa vulgarisbig bush, pollinator20165
Telekia speciosabig perennial, pollinator20161
Tilia cordatabig tree, perennial veg.20171
Tilia platyphyllosbig tree, perennial veg.2016w2
Species on 3 mounds PA4
Cornus masbush, berries20202
Prunus cerasifera: ‘Vetraz’, ‘Kolonovidnaja’, ‘Pietarin lahja’, ‘Spidola’, ‘Sejanec Fibinga’, ‘Matjunina’, ‘Inese’tree, fruits20208
Prunus domestica: ‘Kuntala’tree, fruits20201
Pyrus communes: ‘Vasarine Sviestine’, ‘Selija’, ‘Haltian Päärynä’ tree, fruits20203

Design idea: Create a Potager type garden.

The Potager is the Zone 2 area below our house (S – SW of house). Here is where we made the first raised beds in 2014 and planted the first fruit trees in 2015. The oldest raised beds have already “disappeared” and we are in the process of renewing and renovating the area. This will be a separate design by Marja so I am not going into detail here. My main purpose to include the Potager in this design is to list the trees and bushes that have been planted. In terms of perennials the list is far from complete.

Species in Potager gardenFunctionsPlanted yearHow many
Actinidia kolomikta ‘Lande’, ‘Lanke’, male20193
Amelanchier alnifolia 20152
Angelica archangelica
Aronia mitschurinii 20162
Buddleja davidii ‘Nanho blue’, ‘Royal red’20192
Chaenomeles japonica 20206
Chenopodium bonus-henricus20173
Crataegus grayana 20201
Dioscorea polystachya 20191
Elaeagnus umbellata20192
Hylotelephium telephium 2022
Juglans regia ‘Ambrolauri’, ‘Ideal’20192
Lonicera cearulea v. kam 2017
Maackia amurensis 20191
Morus alba ‘Galicija’20211
Prunus armenica ex ‘Tsarskis’ 20194
Prunus avium 20201
Prunus cerasus20222
Prunus cerasus ‘Chokoladnaja’ 20191
Rhodiola rosea 2016-20223
Ribes nigrum ‘Ben Moore’, ‘Venny’20152
Ribes uva-crispa 20162

Also the Zone 1 area around the house is beyond this design. Apart from herbs below the house and in the upper yard the kitchen garden has been placed in Zone 2. This is because the house was built in the forest and we left as many of the original trees standing as possible, so it is not a very favourable area for gardening. However again I want to list the trees and bushes that have been planted in this area. Here I am also listing trees, bushes and typical perennials that occur naturally.

Species Around House (Zone 1)FunctionsPlanted yearHow many
Alnus incanatree, nitrogen fixernatural
Anemone nemorosaearly ground covernatural
Betula pendulatree, sapnatural
Convallaria majalisperennial, early ground covernatural
Corylus avellanabig bush, nutsnatural
Hepatica nobilisearly ground covernatural
Juglans regia tree, nuts20191
Matteuccia struthiopterisfern, edible202210
Populus tremulatreenatural
Prunus padussmall tree, spring bloomernatural
Pteridium pinetorumfern, poisonous, ground covernatural
Rhamnus frangulabush, poisonousnatural
Salix capreatree, early pollinator plantnatural
Sorbus aucupariatree, berriesnatural

The field that is Planning Area 8, SW from the house, has a stretch of willows growing in the ditch closer to the Varkalahdentie road and a patch of Alder Alnus incana further south. The SE edge of the field is a planted spruce hedge (on neighbours side) about 15 metres high with several deciduous trees growing in the ditch on our side. The spruce shade this part of the field quite strongly. On the east side is our young deciduous forest (PA9).

Design idea for Hazelnut Grove: Create a production area of hazel nuts using various hazelnut varieties. Planting in straight lines along the main ditch to the SW. Create diversity with some other species.

Planting Hazel Nuts and sweet Rowan hybrids on the SW edge of the PA8 field started in 2019 as 2 rows about 4 meters apart following the ditch. In 2020 I started planting trees along the contour lines on the southern part of the field. In 2021 some trees and bushes were added between the Hazel Nut rows. Some of the hazels – bought from Zalenieku Kokaudzetava in Latvia – are grafted on Colyrus colurna (Turkish hazel). Other than Zalenieku most hazels have been bought in cooperation with Joel Rosenberg or Juha Ujula and the Finnish Nut Project.

Here in the “Hazelnut Grove” the original design idea was simple: to plant hazelnuts in rows along the main ditch. The first batch of seedlings I bought on a visit to Latvia from the plant school Zaleniuku Kokaudezetava in 2018. All their hazelnuts – except the local wild hazelnut – are grafted on Turkish hazelnut C. colurna rootstock so they should eventually grow like small trees. So far it is not very obvious but will become more visible when the trees grow. Zalanieku also had a huge range of Sorbus hybrids of which I took GRANATNAJA, KRASAVICA, BURKA, LIKORNAJA all of which should become small 3-5m high trees and produce berries. The hazelnuts that were planted in 2019 and 2020 were ordered in connection with the Pähkinähanke (Nut Project) and they were ordered from plant schools in Ireland, Germany and Poland (many of them planted in NG). As some of the hazelnuts died some other trees were planted instead, f.ex. some random apple trees (from a schools grafting class). The planting distance between trees was appr. 3m and the distance between the 2 rows 4m. In order to plant denser and get more of the bush layer in the area a selection of bushes (Crataegus, Syringa, Amelanchier, Malus Purpurea, Aronia) were planted between the rows in 2020 and 2021. The grass is kept down by mowing.

Drone photo of Hazel nut grove on 26.9.2022

Plant List: Hazelnut Grove

Plant list
(from NW to SE)
Row 1 (closest to ditch in SW)Middle rowRow 2
0Crataegus -19
1Sorbus GRANATNAJA -18ZKCrataegus -19Crataegus -19
2C.av. Krasnaja Smolina -18ZKMalus Purpurea -20C.av. Latvian local -18ZK
3C.av. Webbs Prize -19FNC.av. local -18
4C.av. Latvian local 2018ZKCrataegus -20C.av. Krasnaja Smolina -18ZK
5Sorbus KRASAVICA 2018ZKC.av. Pervenec -18ZK
6Malus domestica (Dwarf?) 2019Malus Purpurea -20C. cornuta -21VT
7C.av. Halls Giant -19FNCaragana arborescens -21C.av. local -22
8Sorbus BURKA 2018ZKC. Maxima -18ZK
9Crataegus 2019Amelanchier alnifolia -20C.av. Gustav Mahler -18ZK
10C.av. Halls Giant -19-C. heterophylla x C. avellana -20JR
11C.av. Lange Zellernus -19LUMalus Purpurea -20C. colurna -21VT
12Sorbus LIKORNAJA -18ZKMalus domestica ‘Punainen Kaneli’ -19
13Malus domestica ‘Antonovka’ -19Amelanchier alnifolia -20C.av. Pervenec -18ZK
14C.av. Webb’s Prize -19FNMalus Purpurea -20C.av. Moskovskij Rubin -18ZK
15C.av. Nottingham -19FNC. colurna -21VT
16Sorbus GRANATNAJA -18ZKSyringa vulgaris -21Malus domestica ‘?’ -19
17C.av. Webb’s Prize -19FNAmelanchier alnifolia -21C. Maxima 2018ZK
18C.av. Halls Giant -19FNAmelanchier alnifolia -21C. cornuta -21VT
19WARRÉ BEEHIVESyringa vulgaris -21C.av. Butler -23
20C.av. Nottingham -19FNSyringa vulgaris -21C.av. local -18
21Corylus “Asian Quebec” -21JRAronia Prunifolia -21C. cornuta -18ZK
22C.av. Halls Giant -19FN
23C.av. Isofilbert -21VTC. av. Mogulnuss -21JU
24C.av. Cosford -19FNC. av. Lange Zellernus -20OR
25C.av. Nottingham -20ORC. av. Cosford -20OR
26Tilia japonica -22VTC. av. Katalonski -20OR
27Tilia amurensis -22VT
-18= year of planting
Origins of plant material.
Species in Hazelnut groveFunctionsPlanted yearHow many
Alnus incanatree, nitrogen fixernatural
Amelanchier alnifoliabig bush, nuts20214
Aronia x Prunifoliasmall bush20211
Caragena arborescensbush, nitrogen fixer, pollinators20211
Corylus avellana: Butler, Cosford, Halls Giant, Gustav Mahler, Isofilbert, Karjalohja local, Katalonski, Krasnaja Smolina, Lange Zellernuss, Latvian local, Maxima, Mogulnuss, Moskovskij Rubin, Nottingham, Pervenec, Webb’s Prizebig bush, nuts2019-2331
Corylus colurnabig tree, nuts20212
Corylus cornutabig bush, nuts2019, 20213
Corylus hybrids: ex ‘Asian Quebeq’big bush, nuts20211
Crataegus grayanabig bush, berries2019-213
Malus domestica: Antonovka, Punainen kanelitree, fruit20194
Malus Purpureatree, pollinators20203
Salix sp.big bush, pollinatorsnatural
Sorbus aucuparia var. edulis group: Burka, Granatnaja, Krasavica, Likornajatree, berries20195
Syringa vulgarisbig bush, pollinators20213
Tilia amurensisbig tree, perennial veg. pollinators20221
Tilia japonicabig tree, perennial veg. pollinators20221

Apart from local and Latvian hazelnuts and 2 hazels from Pölli Institute in Estonia, I have so far (2021) planted 18 hazelnut name varieties (by end of 2021), American-European-Asian hybrids and other Corylus species: C. americana, C. cornuta, C. colurna, C. av. fuscorubra. See list of varieties in Hazelnuts.

Juglans hybrid planted in 2016 from Vakkataimi. September 2021.

From Juglandaceae (Juglans, Carya) we have planted since 2015 several Juglans hybrids from Vakkataimi, several Juglans regia‘s from Vakkataimi, Zalenieku (Ideal) and several Loiko variants (from Belarus origin seeds) from Philipp Weiss, Juha Ujula, Vakkataimi and Joel Rosenberg as well as the mystical Inkoo origin and a Dobele/Upitis origin from Joel. These have been planted in 2019-2021. Also we have several J. ailanthifolia v.cordiformis (herttajalopähkinä), J. cinerea (including trees that have naturally propagated in Vihti), J. nigra. Also several Carya illinoensis, C. laciniosa, C. ovata have been planted (all from Vakkataimi).

Infrastructure: garden features, functions, and elements, including beneficial animal habitat elements

The infrastructure in HG consists of:

  • steps connecting the mowed path to the path which goes around the Big Pond (in brown)
  • the mowed path which goes through the whole Forest Garden area (in green)
  • the ditch that was directed to the Big Pond in 2021 (in blue)
  • bridge over the ditch (in black)
  • beehives (yellow) in the NW end of the area and in the shadow of the alders in SE

NG: Nut guilds. Area planted with various nut trees and bushes and guild developments

Trees planted along the contour lines.

Design idea of the Nut Guilds: Create an area with diverse nut trees and bushes and experimenting with guilds around and between the guilds. Nut trees to be planted along contour lines.

Corylus sp. dominates also here but there are also Juglandacea, Castanea and others (see list). In 2022 I started experimenting with some guilds including bushes and perennials. We continued with the guilds in 2023 and this will be continued still in the coming years.

Drone photo of Nut Guild area on 26.9.2022 at 16.20.
Plant List
(from SW to NE)
Row 1between 1 and 2Row 2Row 3Row 4
1Quercus bicolor ‘low tannin’ -21VTC. americana -21 VTCeltis -22VTCeltis -22VT
2Juglans regia ‘Belsad’ -21 VTC. av. Mogulnuss -21 JUCorlylus ”Liaozhen 3” -21JRC. av. Syrena -21NT
3Quercus bicolor ‘low tannin’ -21VTC. av. Webb’s Prize -20ORCorlylus ”Yuzhui” -21JRMorus albą -21NT
4Juglans cordiformis, Imshu mother -21 VTC. av. Garibaldi -20ORCorlylus ”Dermis” -21JRMorus albą Galicija -22
5Carya laciniosa ‘Hardy Mix’ -21 VTC. av. Katalonski -20ORCorlylus ”Liaozhen 3” -21JRMorus albą Galicija -22
6Carya ovata, Wenschke mother -21 VTCaragena arborescens -21C. av. Webb’s Prize -20ORCorlylus ”Skinner”  -21JRC. av. Warsaw Red -21JU
7Lonicera caerulea var. kamtschatica -22 ‘Wojtek’C. av. Katalonski -20ORCorlylus ”Wisconsin” -21JR
8Carya Illinois, Snaps mother -21 VTC. av. Cosford -20ORCorlylus ”Skinner” -21JR
9Lonicera caerulea var. kamtschatica ‘Karina’-22TTC. av. Lange Zellernuss -20ORCorlylus ”Liaozhen 3” -21JR
10Castanea x neglecta -21 VTC. av. Nottingham -20ORCornus sanguinea -22FLLonicera caerulea var. kamtschatica ‘Duet’ -22TT
11Lonicera caerulea kamtschatica ‘Duet’ -22TTC. av. Isofilbert -21VTCastanea mollissima -22VT
12Cornus sanguinea -22FLC. americana -21VTLonicera caerulea kamtschatica ‘Onni’ -22FL
13Castanea dentata -22VTCorlylus ”Yuzhui” -21 JR
14Lonicera caerulea kamtschatica ‘Ilo’ -22FLCorlylus ”Asian-Quebec” -21JR
15Lonicera caerulea var. kamtschatica ‘Karina’ -22TT Corlylus ”Yuzhui” -21 JR

Species in Nut guildsFunctionsPlanted yearHow many
Caragena arborescensbush, nitrogen fixer20211
Carya illinoinensisbig tree, nuts20211
Carya laciniosa: ‘Hardy Mix’big tree, nuts2017, 20213
Castanea dentatabig tree, nuts20222
Castanea mollissimabig tree, nuts20222
Castanea x neglectabig tree, nuts20211
Celtis occidentalisbig tree, berries20212
Cornus sanguineabush, berries, attracts birds20222
Corylus hybrids: ex ‘Dermis’, ex ‘Liaozhen 3’, ex ‘Skinner’, ex ‘Wisconsin’, ex ‘Yuzhui’, ex ‘Asian Quebec’big bush, nuts202111
Corylus americanabig bush, nuts20212
Corylus avellana: Cosford, Katalonski, Lange Zellernuss, Webb’s Prize, Garibaldi, Nottingham, Warsaw Red, Syrena, Mogulnuss, Maxima big bush, nuts2020-2113
Elaeagnus umbellatabush, berries, nitrogen fixer20232
Juglans cordiformis ex ‘Imshu’big tree, nuts20211
Juglans regia: ex ‘Belsad’ (Loiko), Inkoo, ex ‘Loiko’tree, nuts2020-213
Lonicera caerulea var. kamtschatica: Anna, Ilo, Onni, Wojtekbush, berries20226
Malus domestica ‘Rubinola’tree, fruits20231
Morus albą: Galicja, –tree, berries2021-223
Querqus bicolor ‘Low Tannin’tree, acorn20212
Rubus arcticus ‘Susanna’shrub, berries20232
Sorbus frutescenssmall tree, berries20231
Staphylea pinnatatree, nuts20212
Vaccinium corymbosum ‘Patriot’small bush, berries20221

Design idea: Plant a “blueberry forest” with mainly coniferous seed producing trees, honey berries (Lonicera) and cultivated blueberries.

  • The pond should not be surrounded with deciduous trees as that would litter the pond with a lot of leaves in the autumns. Therefore coniferous trees are preferable.
  • The north side of the pond should be the most favourable location around the pond as it will get sunlight both directly and reflected from the pond.
  • The main potential edible coniferous crop is pine seeds that are produced by several pine species. The most potential in our climate should be the Korean Sembra Pinus koraiensis but also P. cembra and Siberian Dwarf Pine P. pumila have potential.
  • Pine trees are mostly ok with a lower pH so natural companion plants are those that have similar preferences. Potential plants for the bush and shrub layer are honey berries Lonicera caerulea var. kamtschatica and blueberries.
Species in Coniferous woodFunctionsPlanted yearHow many
Actinidia kolomikta: ‘Dr Szymanowski’, Vitakola’ climber, berries20232
Corylus avellana: Butlerbig bush, nuts20233
Fragaria x ananassaherbaceous, berries20235
Humulus lupulusclimber, cones20233
Lonicera caerulea var. kamtschatica: Onni, several othersbush,berries20226
Lonicera periclymenumclimber20234
Pinus cembra subsp. cembrabig tree, nuts20221
Pinus koraiensisbig tree, nuts20222
Pinus pumilabush, nuts20222
Saponaria officinalis ‘Rosa Plena’perennial20234
Vaccinium corymbosum: Chandler, North Blue, North County, Nortland, Patriot Jumbo, Pink Lemonade smallbush,berries202221

Design idea: The area around the vineyard is well protected and favourable for more sensitive species. Develop also rocky perennial areas east of the well (Kaivo) and north of the pond.

The Intensive Forest Garden is the area falling between the road to the upper yard, the annual garden, ditch towards the Nutgrove area and Young forest. The vineyard is included but separated with a fence for protection of the vines. The area is a bit higher in elevation, has good moisture levels due to the ground water that is pushing up from the forest but controlled with the pond and ditch. The area is also protected from morning sun which can also be a positive for more sensitive plants that shouldn’t heat up too fast after a cold night.

Mostly trees and bushes have been planted with some perennial guild development planned around the rocky area above the well and above the pond (rocks gathered from building site etc).

Species in Intensive Forest GardenFunctionsPlanted yearHow many
Acanthopanax senticosussmall tree, medicinal20211
Caragana aurantiacabush, nitrogen fixer20211
Castanea sativabig tree, nuts20172
Chaenomeles japonicasmall bush, fruit20212
Cornus kousatree, berries, leaves20212
Cornus mas: Dublany, Elegantnyitree, berries20212
Juglans cinerea: ‘Vihti’big tree, nuts20172
Juglans cordiformis ‘Campbell’big tree, nuts20171
Juglans regia: ex ‘Loiko II’, ex ‘Youngs-bi’tree,, nuts20172
Juglans sp. hybrid (?)big tree, nuts20171
Morus acidosa ‘Mulle’tree, berries20212
Morus albatree, berries20211
Morus rotundiloba ‘Matsunaga’tree, berries20231
Morus rubra ‘Illinois Everbearing’tree, berries20231
Ribes rubrum ‘Katri’, ‘Punainen hollantilainen’bush, berries20212
Staphylea pinnatatree, nuts20212

The Vineyard obviously consists of grape vines (about 16 varieties so far) but includes also other climbers on the same wires or on the fence. Other perennials have been planted in the vine rows, mainly Allium sp and strawberry. Strawberries ended up in the vineyard mainly because they are hopeless to grow without fencing due to deer tearing them up with roots and all.

The first grape vines were planted in 2021 and some added every year. Varieties are mainly those that are available from plant schools in Finland plus some bought from Juha Ujula and from Fruticetum orchard in Lohjansaari. So far (2023) no grapes have been harvested outdoors.

Species in the VineyardFunctionsPlanted yearHow many
Actinidia arguta: Issaiclimber, berries20231
Actinidia kolomikta: Annikkiclimber, berries20231
Allium sp. : A.ursinum, othersedible leaves2021-22
Fragaria x ananissa: Polka, Frida202220
Humulus lupulusclimber,cones20232
Schisandra chinensis ‘Sadova no1’climber, berries, medicinal20212
Vitis labrusca: Nimrod, Valiant2021-22
Vitis vinifera Hybrids: Adalmina, Beta, Edelweiss, Einset seedless, Fabel, Hazaine Zladkii, Jubileina Novgoroda, Kosmonaut, Leon Milot, Mars seedless, Muscat Bleu, Rondo, Rusbol, Swenssons red, Siegerrebe, Supagaclimber, grapes2021-2336

Some more grapes have been planted in the geodetic greenhouse and at the house pergola in 2020: Zilga, Varduva, Ciravas Agra, Somerset Seedless, Siegerrebe, Edelweiss.

Design idea: Thin the young forest leaving mainly edible or nitrogen fixing plants and plant in other edibles. Experiment with creating a forest garden from a young forest.

For the most part forest garden projects are created on fields and that is what we are doing too. But there are other options of which one is starting from a young forest. In most cases we will eventually want to stop the forest garden succession so that it does not go further than stage 3. The young forest where we built the house was mostly in stage 3 (it was logged in early 1990’s) and the lower part south and SE of the house (PA9) is on pretty good soil facing SW and has aspects of “lehto” (lundskog) (type of deciduous forest on better soils in Finnish forest type typology).

In PA9 the plan is to thin out part of the naturally occurring trees and plant forest garden plants instead. The thinning will favour those natural species that are productive like rowan or hazel or that are beneficial otherwise like Salix caprea or alders. Mostly the thinning will target aspen (Populus tremula) and birch (Betula pendula) which are the most numerous trees in the area.

Drone photo of Young Forest area on 26.9.2022, YF: Young Forest. Young deciduous forest with a few trees and climbers planted.
Species in the Young ForestFunctionsPlanted yearHow many
Actinidia arguta: Valliclimber, berries20231
Actinidia kolomikta: Annikkiclimber, berries20231
Alnus incanatree, nitrogen fixernatural
Anemone nemorosaearly ground covernatural
Aralia elatatree, medicinal20211
Betula pendulatree, sapnatural
Convallaria majalisperennial, early ground covernatural
Corylus avellanabig bush, nutsnatural
Gingko bilobatree20231
Hepatica nobilisearly ground covernatural
Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris ‘Mustila’climber20191
Juglans regia ex ‘Ideal’tree, nuts20191
Matteuccia struthiopterisfern, edible202210
Populus tremulatree, biodiversitynatural
Prunus padussmall tree, spring bloomernatural
Pteridium pinetorumfern, poisonous, ground covernatural
Querqus roburtreenatural1
Rhamnus frangulabush, poisonousnatural
Salix capreatree, early pollinator plantnatural
Sorbus aucupariatree, berriesnatural
Tripterygium regeliiclimber,medicinal (poisonous)2020

It is natural to start with planting trees and bushes in a forest garden project. It doesn’t seem to make sense to plant perennial shrubs and cover plants before the trees are in place and creating some shade.

Planting the Guild during the Permaculture Introduction Course in July 2023.

However there was already an idea of guilds when planting the roadside in PA6 in 2016. The idea was to plant big trees every 10-15 metres along the road. Those are Querqus robur, Acer rubrum, Tilia cordata, Aesculus hippocastanum, Tilia platyphyllos (2x), with some bigger bushes/small trees like Malus baccata, Hippophae rhamnoides, Syringa vulgaris, Cornus mas, etc, several Ribes and Lonicera berry bushes and large perennials like Symphytum official, Inula helenium, Aster novi-belgii, Telekia speciosa, Malva moschata etc.

In 2022 I started developing guilds in the Nut Guilds (NG). I connected some trees together with raised beds using carton, logs from our mushroom operation (several turkey tail logs), soil, compost, other organic material etc and planted perennials. We continued in 2023 and got a lot done at our Permaculture Introduction Course in July.

Some perennials in the Nut Guild. (The list is not exhaustive.)

The timeline shows roughly when planting has started in each planning area and where activities will continue in 2024. There will be some filling in of trees and bushes but the main focus will be in developing the bush and perennial layers (Guilds) in the Nut Guilds area and on the Road side and Potager.

Planning area2015-172017-192020-22202320242025-292030-39
GeneralRobot mower 2022
Around the houseTrees and perennialsMaintanencetaking out some aspen and birchM
PotagerRaised beds 2015PerennialsSeveral more fruit trees, perennialsperennials, renovating raised bedsrenovating raised beds, Guildsrenovating raised beds, Guilds
PA4 NW of saunaPlanting started in 2015planting below saunaMMM
PA5 WindbreakPlanting started in 2015Filling inFilling inFilling inFilling inM
PA6 RoadsidePlanted mostly in 2016PerennialsMGuildsGuilds
PA7 Coniferous woodsMeadow plants seeded, Coniferous wood. 2022Filling in and around, mushroom bedFilling in, GuildsGuilds
PA8 Hazelnut grovePlanted mostly in 2019Filling inMMM
PA8 Nut GuildsPlanting started 2020, First Guild 2022GuildsGuildsM
PA8 IFGPlanting started 2017Vineyard started 2021Filling in vineyard, mushroom bedGuildsGuilds
PA9 Young forestPlanting started 2019Filling in, thinning the forestFilling in, thinning the forestFilling in, thinning the forest

So far we have mainly relied on buying plants from nurseries. It is faster but also expensive. The results are not always good. If for example a tree seedling has been growing in a pot for many years it can take years for it to start growing properly after planting. So developing skills in plant propagation is a major focus for the future.

We have planted and seeded a huge number of plants over the years since 2014 and there has been different approaches to keeping track of them. What is obvious very fast is that you cannot trust your memory. There are several reasons to try to keep track of your plants:

  • to know what is what including
    • species
    • variety
    • origin
    • time of seeding or planting
  • follow the development of individual plants
    • which ones died
    • which ones are thriving
    • when do they bloom first time / in general
    • when do they first / in general produce fruit/berries/nuts
    • other observations
  • Figure out which species and varieties thrive best in our site
  • Include information about the plants from literature etc

Over the years I have had different approaches to this including

  • lists on spread sheets
  • collecting order lists when buying from plant schools
  • labelling the plants
  • photographs
  • maps
  • databases with different degrees of ambition

These experiences have helped me understand what I need and want, what is doable and what is not. The last usually includes getting commitment from others to use the same system. In 2022 I got quite far in developing and using a relational database based on “Zoho Creator” but it proved to be too heavy and cumbersome (partly due to lack of programming skills) and unnecessarily expensive. Developing an intuitive UI that anyone else than me could use was beyond my skills.

My last iteration is using Obsidian, which is a personal knowledge base and note-taking software application that operates on Markdown files which you can keep on your hard drive. It allows users to make internal links for notes and then to visualize the connections as a graph. It is designed to help users organize and structure their thoughts and knowledge in a flexible, non-linear way. You can use it as a relational database and create tables with different criteria. The software is free for personal use.

Obsidian is relatively easy to use and very flexible so you can use it for “everything”. I currently use Obsidian for my note taking in whatever I am doing including developing the Plant Database as well as my CRM for business and everything else including my permaculture related thoughts. It allows you to make connections that you didn’t realise exist and acts as your “second brain” or especially your “second memory”.

My Obsidian Graph view on 7.2.2024 after c. 11 months of using it. Blue dots in the south relate to my CRM, red dots in north and north-east relate to permaculture and sociocracy, people (relations) are in mid-east sector and the plant database in green in the west.

Just looking at the plant database it looks like this right now (7.2.2024).This is a static screenshot, in real life you can hover over the dots and see what they represent.

On a more practical level I can now create lists with different criteria. Unfortunately I can not embed them here (which Zoho Creator allows to do) so I need to either remake the lists manually (what I have done above) or use screenshots. A short video below to demonstrate.

VIDEO (This is not necessary for understanding the design but can be of interest. I am speaking a bit slowly so you might want to speed up in YouTube.)

I have (21.2.2024) listed 385 individual trees, bushes and vines in Obsidian that have been planted in Iso-orvokkiniitty. The list includes a some perennials but this is roughly the number of trees and bushes that have been planted and are still alive. There is 115 species of trees and bushes.

The forest garden has been a major investment. Most of the trees, bushes and perennials have been bought (instead of growing from seed etc). Prices vary widely between 5€ and 60€ per plant but I am estimating an average price of 15€ for the trees and bushes. Using the above numbers and taking into account quite a few dead trees and also the perennials my estimation is that we have bought plants with close to 10000 € during the 8 years we have been at Iso-orvokkiniitty. This has been a period of heavy investment. For the coming years we will slow the pace and eventually costs should be at a much lower level.

Whatestimated cost over
past 8 years
estimated cost
Plants10000 €1000 €
Fencing material2000 €250 €
Sawdust, bark, soil2000 €250 €
Robot mower + cable, service etc5500 €200 €
Other500 €200 €
SUM20000 € =
2500 €/year
2000 € =
1000 €/year

We have a high density of whitetail deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) and also hare (Lepus europaeus). As we have not fenced the whole area each tree needs to be individually protected with a net fence. We also have voles (field vole: Microtus agrestis and water vole: Arvicola amphibius). Voles have destroyed trees (the roots) in our garden, but trees that have been planted on mounds on the field don’t seem to be their target. Our dog is a great mole hunter.

Integration => dogs, predators, hunting

Irrigation of the trees and bushes is necessary in the year or planting and following year. In longer periods of draught watering also older trees is beneficial or necessary depending on situation. I wrote the “Water and making ponds” design parallel to this design and a more efficient design for irrigation is a part of that. Until we dug the ponds in late 2022, the main water sources have been the surrounding ditches in spring and early summer (until they dry out) and circulated water from our waste water willow system. The later also contains nutrients. Closer to the house also collected rainwater and well water are used.

A thick layer of saw dust or bark is added around each tree when planting it. We receive hardwood sawdust from an artisan furniture manufacturer in closeby Fiskars village. The benefit of using hardwood sawdust is that mushrooms grow better on it. On the other hand bark mulch might better accelerate the transition from grass field to a perennial forest garden system. Bark is more expensive than sawdust. The mulching has to be renewed every 2-3 years at least in early days of the forest garden. We can also get tree leaves from our neighbour.

Fertilising the trees has been irregular. Sometimes I add a spade of composted manure to the planting mound but more often I don’t. My aim has been to add a spade of composted manure to each tree once a year in the spring or early summer, but in practise it has been irregular. We have used water from the willow waste water system for watering the trees and that contains nutrients. As the willows grow bigger there is less water available there. The cuttings from trimming the grass is generally left in place. Occasionally I shred willow, alder and poplar into mulch and add it under the trees. Some nitrogen fixing trees have been planted in or between the rows (alders; Alnus sp, sea buckthorn; Hippophaë rhamnoides, Umbellatus sp. and Siberian peashrub; Caragana arborescens.

pH in our fields is below 6 (5,8-5,9) so it is not critically low but liming would benefit most perennials. However liming has been sporadic when planting. As we heat our house with wood and have a sauna, we produce ash that is used in cultivation. Generally I add some ash around the trees when I have it available.

The route that needs to be mowed in black: appr. 460 meters with 1-3 rows depending on place.

The trees and bushes are mostly on small mounds ( with carton underneath) with sawdust or bark mulch. Nevertheless it is necessary to mow the surroundings of the trees (appr 1 meter around each tree) and paths to suppress grass growth and for accessibility. In 2021 the route that had to be mowed was about 460 meters. In some part it was just a path for access but in some parts there is 3-4 rows of trees. Total mowed area was close to 2000 m2. The mowing was done with a Husqvarna 536 LIRX trimmer. 2 batteries give appr. 1 hour effective trimming time. Going through the whole route takes 10-15 hours and it has to be done several times per summer unless there is a draught. A less time consuming mowing method needs to be put in place. A disturbing negative of the trimmer is the microplastic. Currently biodegradable trimmer line is not available and all the trimmer line ends up as microplastic in the trimmed area.

Since 2022 the area has been mowed with a Husqvarna 450X robot mower. The grey area on the map is mowed with the robot. The mowing area is relatively big with some challenges in the setup:

  • The area has several narrow passages where the robot has to navigate.
  • The length of the border cables is very near to maximum. If the cable breaks finding the broken point is challenging.
  • The mowed area is originally field (permanent grassland) so it has not been prepared as a lawn. Every time the robot is stuck that point has to be fixed so it won’t be stuck there again. Gradually it gets stuck less and less. In wet slippery weather it is more prone to get stuck. In the winter voles create new obstacles.
  • The cables go over our road in two places which poses a risk that it is driven over by a car (happened once so far). The cables are broken by plowing snow in the winter.

With these challenges only the most advanced robot mowers would be up to the task which meant that it was quite a big investment.

In the summer, especially in periods of regular rain the robot needs to run 24/7 and still has difficulties keeping up. This is also due to it seldom managing 24 hours without getting stuck. Despite the challenges the robot has done a good job. The grass is kept low but not “too tidy”. After all, this isn’t a golf course. Mowing the grass reduces significantly the competition pressure the grasses pose to the planted trees. The grass is a natural polyculture that is gradually developing from the permanent grassland that was there. Mowing favours some species against others, f.ex. coach grass (Elytrigia repens) does not tolerate continuous cutting. Gradually the trees should out-compete the grass so that the need to mow is decreased but evidently that will still take years.

Mowing the grass and mulching have the function of suppressing weeds – mainly the perennial grasses. If grass isn’t mowed it spreads into the mulch much faster than if it is kept short. The protective net around the trees prevents trimming the weeds inside it so either the net has to be temporarily moved or that part has to be weeded manually. When trees grow also protective nets have to be higher which makes weeding from above impossible without removing the net.

So who has planted all the trees and bushes over the years and how has the workload of maintaining the forest garden been managed and will be managed? Unfortunately records have not been kept about the work hours but evidently there has been some. Both of us have external jobs so we are by no means managing Iso-orvokkiniitty full-time. No doubt Erkki has done a big part of the work but there has been a lot of others including obviously Marja, Erkki’s brother Tapani and our daughter Pinja. In 2021 we had a young summer worker who spent most of his time trimming the forest garden. In 2022 we bought the robot mower which eliminated most of the trimming work but required a lot of time installing cables and keeping the mower in motion. That summer we had Pinja working for us the whole summer and managing a team of wwoofers from June to October and they did a some forest garden planting and a lot of maintaining (weeding, distributing compost, mulching, trimming, fencing, making paths etc). In 2023 we had 3 wwoofers in July and again their main job was maintenance work in the forest garden. In 2023 we also had the Permaculture Introduction Course during which we had a 2 hours hands-on guild building session which was incredibly productive.

In 2024 we will not have volunteer workers as it is difficult to manage when we have our other jobs. There will be much less planting than earlier years and the main focus will be in building guilds. This will be done by ourselves working solo but also we will again arrange the Permaculture Introduction Course and at least one Forest Garden specific workshop. Erkki will keep the mower moving and do the necessary trimming. Weeding, distributing compost and mulching will be done to a lesser degree than the 2 previous summers unless we are able to arrange some “talkoo” for doing those in one rush. 2024 will show how much time is freed by not needing to manage volunteers and how much we loose by not having their workforce. After that we can tweak again.


There are several points of integration to other design and aspects on Iso-orvokkiniitty.

Earlier designs:

  1. Design 1: Ponds at Iso-orvokkiniitty: The ponds form a key resource for the forest garden The ponds provide irrigation water for the forest garden but the trees closest to the ponds can even get water with their root system stretching out to the ponds. The ponds create a favourable microclimate by reserving heat and reflecting light especially to the north side of the ponds. Ponds benefit from shade but broad-leaf trees should not be too close as they deposit organic matter into the ponds (dropping leaves in the autumn).
  2. Design 2: Energy at Iso-orvokkiniitty: The forest garden does not have a strong connection to the energy system. Gradually when the trees grow and need to be thinned it will produce some fire wood, but still the majority of firewood will be from the forest. Also the energy need of the forest garden are insignificant; running occasional equipment and irrigation pumps.
  3. Design 3: Caring for Bees: Bees benefit from a diversity of blooming plants through the growing season. Many nut trees (Corylus, Juglans etc) are wind pollinated but can still provide pollen in early spring. Many fruit trees and berry bushes are are good pollinator plants. On the other hand they benefit from pollinators like honeybees. Trees like linden can produce nectar even in dry conditions when perennials and shrubs may be suffering from draught. The choice of perennials should aim at extending the blooming season in early spring and late summer. Honeybees nest in cavities in big trees. Many big broadleaf trees are potential nesting places for honeybees even though it can take hundreds of years before suitable cavities can develop. Probably aspen is the fastest solution to creating natural cavities for honeybees.

Other designs or aspects:

  1. Our food system: On the long term the forest garden will be a key part of our food system.
  2. Mushrooms: Mushrooms are a key part of the underground forest garden system. On the other hand mushroom cultivation can be easily integrated in a forest garden and doing that can enhance the transformation of the soil-food-web into a fungi dominated system.
  3. Courses and workshops: the forest garden can be used to demonstrate permaculture design, forest garden design, cultivation of tree crops and other perennial crops etc. It can also be used as a platform for workshops.
  4. Animals: At the moment the only domesticated animals we have are our dogs. The forest garden could easily be integrated with other animal systems like keeping sheep or chicken.

Possible spinoff designs:

  1. A more detailed design of a specific guild
  2. A Windbreak design
  3. Design about creating a forest garden in an existing young forest

The Goal of the design was developed based on the Permaculture Ethics.

EthicsHow I laid the foundation for the GoalReflection when finishing the design 3/2024
EARTH CARE– A forest garden is a more diverse production system than a field or a managed forest. Transforming a field or a managed forest into a forest garden generally increases biodiversity and wildlife. A forest garden helps climate mitigation and adaptation at the same time. A forest garden is a regenerative food system. 
– Carbon sequestration is increased.
– A forest garden can be managed with low inputs and maintenance. 
– I still believe biodiversity and carbon sequestration will be increased but so far this has happened to a very limited scale when the planted trees are still relatively small.
– A forest garden does require maintenance even though the biggest workload is during planting. When the plants start producing a yield also the workload will increase. Different levels of observation and documentation are also time consuming.
PEOPLE CARE– Produce food for ourselves and a surplus for others, including future generations. 
– Develop a regenerative food production system for northern temperate climate and understand how it could work. 
– Mitigate climate change and biodiversity loss 
– It remains to be seen how productive the system will be. There is a lot of experimentation that probably means lower productivity but creates more experiences, feedback loops and understanding.
– Developing productive systems that simultaneously mitigate climate change and biodiversity loss is a key goal of the design.
FAIR SHARE– A forest garden is an investment for the future. It will take 10 to 30 years and more to develop a fully productive forest garden and therefore people coming after us will benefit the most. 
– Gather, exchange and disseminate knowledge about how to start and manage a forest garden in a northern temperate climate.
– The forest garden has produced very little yield until now, mainly the berry bushes (Ribes, Lonicera) produce a yield. Hazelnuts should start producing in the coming years.
– It is a challenge to design decades ahead. Who will take care of the forest garden or Iso-orvokkiniitty in general, decades from now?
– We have used the forest garden for demonstration and workshops in our courses and we can see a lot of interest.

Our Goal is still valid!


My aims as a designer:

In the beginning I expressed the below aims:

  1. Use GoSADIMET as Design Framework:
    • Done, reflection below
  2. Use Mollison’s Design Principles:
    • Done, reflection below
  3. Condense a huge design into a manageable size:
    • Maybe not.
  4. Understand how to design a forest garden:
    • I got a lot of insight.
  5. Design a forest garden that meets both our material and cognitive needs while functioning as a platform for education.
    • Yes, I think so.

Reflection of using Mollison principles instead of Holmgren principles

The design principles are tools that help us remember to look at the design from a set of different viewpoints. Using the Mollison principles was refreshing just because I haven’t used them before. Some of them are self-evident, for some I needed to look for an explanation. One of the principles “The Yield is Theoretically Unlimited” seems to me untrue even though I get the idea. It could be metaphorically true but not theoretically. The Mollison principles were helpful in a similar way as the Holmgren principles but I feel that Holmgren’s principles have been more carefully thought through and complied. Some key principles seem to be missing from Mollison including something as basic as “Observe and interact”. Mollison must have it but somehow it hasn’t been included in the list of principles. As a conclusion I feel more comfortable with using Holmgren’s principles. On the other hand I feel I should study Mollison’s writings more closely than I have so far.

SMART goals

I am using SMART in hindsight to reflect on the design. I have adapted the below table from Mindtools. It acts as a checklist.

What do I want to accomplish?Expressed in the Goal.
Why is this goal important?Expressed in Our needs
Who is involved?Me, Marja, the Iso-orvokkiniitty “tribe”, participants on courses and workshops
Where is it located?Iso-orvokkiniitty
Which resources or limits are involved?The site – Our resources and limits
– How much? – How many?I clear quantifiable aim wasn’t set.
The design uses a significant proportion of Iso-orvokkiniitty’s available land for forest garden. Still it is only about 1/5 to 1/4 of the original 1,5 ha field area.
Several things can be measured: area, number of plants, species, yield etc but specific numeric targets were not set.
– How will I know when it is accomplished?The designed trees and bushes have been largely planted by 2023. In the coming years we will fill in some missing plants, replace dead ones and develop the guilds further.
– How can I accomplish this goal?By continuing to implement this design.
– How realistic is the goal, based on other constraints, such as financial factors?Most of the financial burden – caused by purchase of plants – has been covered by 2023. Building guilds etc is limited by time and workforce.
– Does this seem worthwhile?Yes, I think forest garden designs in Nordic conditions needs to be explored.
– Is this the right time?I should have started earlier. But it is always the right time to plant trees and build sustainable ecosystems.
– Does this match our other efforts/needs?The forest garden is well integrated into other parts of Iso-orvokkiniitty (see integration).
– Am I the right person to reach this goal?I am the one who is here and can do it. Others will continue.
– Is it applicable in the current socio-economic environment?In the current situation a forest garden could be considered a hobby or private interest. However it is targeting the future and the socio-economic environment will most probably be different then.
Time bound
– When?We started planting the forest garden in 2015 and most of the trees and bushes have been planted by now. The coming years will include filling in and developing the guilds further.
– What can I do six months from now?Spring is coming. Observe how the plants have come over the winter.
– What can I do six weeks from now?Plan activities for 2024.
– What can I do today?Finalise this design.

Evaluation of the design’s effectiveness

The design was started in 2015 and implementation – in terms of planting trees – started also then and with more intensity since 2017. So the process has been iterative and the final design is to some extent descriptive of what has been done. However the design process has in an important way given direction to implementation and therefore I do not consider this design a “retro design”. The design and the reflections while designing together with observations and experiences resulting of implementations have importantly directed the implementation. Examples of this are:

  1. Planting trees and bushes on mounds instead of digging holes.
  2. In the early years the grass was kept down with the trimmer and even scythe. This was not practical at this scale and couldn’t keep the grass down and it forced itself into the planting mounds. Accessibility was also limited. Switching to the robot mower in 2022 decreased the workload but also improved the situation qualitatively by suppressing the grass more effectively which also made guild developments more realistic. It also greatly improved accessibility and even created areas for camping f.ex. during courses.
  3. Guilds and planting perennial shrubs and bushes was not a big focus apart from the roadside PA6 where berry bushes and trees were planted in 2016. Since 2022 I have designed guilds especially in the Nutguild area (NG) and the guilding concept is spreading to other areas as well.
  4. Understanding the patterns of succession encouraged me to think of the young forest in PA9 as part of the forest garden where I could do thinning of the existing trees to make room for planting edible trees, bushes and climbers.

Critical reflection on what I have learnt about the design processes, tools, ethics, principles and theory that you have used

In my Design 1 and 2 I used VOBREDIMET as the design framework. This time I used SADIMET. How did they compare?


The comparison shows a great amount of similarity between the two – essentially they are the same. There are some differences though. Vision could be considered a “bigger word” than Goal. Vision describes the world we want to see as a result of our design and implementation and necessitates a more concrete goal setting later in the design process in Evaluate. It might be more realistic in how it sets the Vision first, then goes into the observation phase (including borders and resources) and after gathering all that information sets the concrete goals of the design in Evaluate. GoSADIMET jumps straight into setting concrete Goals without a vision and before survey. A vision probably exists so it would be better for it to be explicit.

I suppose I am so used to setting a vision with its foundation in the permaculture ethics that in this design I formulated a Goal that looks very much like a Vision.

The other difference is Evaluate vs Analyse. According to Merriam-Webster dictionary

  • Analysis is a detailed examination of anything complex in order to understand its nature or to determine its essential features : a thorough study.
  • Evaluation is determination of the value, nature, character, or quality of something or someone.

So observing and analysing should be closely linked. You observe and analyse first trying not to make judgements. But before designing you need to evaluate what you found relevant to your vision. Based on that you can set goals for the design. So this leads me to think that we should tweak the framework.

VOAEGDIMET: Vision – Observe & Analyse – Evaluate & Goals – Design – Implement – Maintain – Evaluate – Tweak.

If we bundle Observe & Analyse and Evaluate & Goals we could call this VOEDIMET.

The DIMET remains the same, so the question seems to be how to get there.

Progress in design skills and competence

Again this design is big and complex and I think I am getting better at handling that. In the future I should focus on smaller designs. I like to understand the theory behind things and that is reflected in how I write designs. Could I also design in a more direct way, without justifying with theory what I propose. It would be against my way of thinking but I should try.


Creating a forest garden is an extremely long process where implementing continues for years and overlaps with maintenance. New learnings and ideas evolve and undoubtedly change the design along the way. It might be too early to talk about tweaks yet.