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Rustling Knapweed Forest Garden
Rustling Knapweed Forest Garden
Last updated:
425 White Oak Rd., Lawton, MI, US
Climate zone:
Cold Temperate

Alexandra Berendt Anthony Bonaventura Cheryl Smith Chief Phillip 'Cloudpiler' Landis Dale Abbott Denny Henke Hubert de Kalbermatten Jan Åberg Joan Weytze Jordan Anglemyer Joshua Shultz Khadijah Lacina Klifford J Fyshwick Marc Van Hummelen Mark Angelini Merry Cox Millie Hrdina PJ Chmiel Rae Fuller Samantha Everett Timothy Bayer Tomme Maile Ute Bohnsack
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Rustling Knapweed Forest Garden

Project Type


Project Summary

A 4-acre forest garden on sandy, mostly-open, neglected land on the edge of small town in southwest Michigan.

Project Description

In 2010 I moved back to my hometown area in Michigan and wanted to do something with an unused field that my grandparents owned. The land, near the edge of a village of 2,000 people, is flat, mostly treeless, with dry, sandy soil. An adjacent oldfield which was abandoned 10-15 years prior is reverting to oaks and pines. Major weed challenges are 2+ acres of spotted knapweed and non-fruiting, but pervasive and thorny dewberries. :(

I bought the oddly-shaped 3 acres and began planting various trees and shrubs in the front acre of "lawn" in the spring of 2010.

In the first year I planted 30+ trees with sheet mulches and some perennial understory plants, planted two beds of native plants/flowers for insects/wildlife, and put down thick layers of leaves in the autumn for planting into the following spring. I also worked on establishing several no-till sheet mulch garden beds, added an 8x20' shed to the middle of the property with a metal roof for rainwater catchment (~1,000 gallons capacity currently), and worked on propagating some herbaceous perennials. The first winter I worked on a planting map for the add'l 2 acres (zones 4/5 when I eventually have a dwelling there).

Since I'm within the Village limits, I have access to some nice resources: municipal leaves, yard waste, cardboard for sheet mulches, etc. I also have good sources for woodchips, horse manure, and I'm only 2 miles away from the wonderful nursery Oikos Tree Crops.

The project is still in its infancy, but I hope that after some years it will become a demonstration site as well as producing some excess food to sell/trade/share. The early years will have a lot of problem weeds, with less of that as the canopy expands and shades some areas out and I'm able to sow a more desirable understory. By that time I hope to have a lot more fruit, nuts and perennial vegetables.


5th-Year Blues

Going into its fifth season, I have mixed feelings about the forest garden—there are moments of real beauty and satisfaction, but there are just as many feelings of being overwhelmed...

Posted almost 9 years ago (2 comments)

Mid-Drought Update, Summer of 2012

The combination of weather and pests has made me wonder why I even bother on several occasions, but so far I still get enough joy from the things that are living to continue.

Posted over 11 years ago (4 comments)

Spring Plantings

An overview of what I've been planting in the last couple of months.

Posted almost 13 years ago (5 comments)
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