Real Life Forest Gardening

Real Life Forest Gardening
Organic Growers’s School, 2011
Zev Friedman

A Southern Appalachian Forest Gardener’s Year

All Year:

Harvest pigeons

Harvest rabbits

Harvest duck eggs

Stick mulch

Swale maintenance

Harvest chaga mushroom sclerotium

Soak shiitake logs during warm spells for fruitings as needed (then put in root cellar or basement until fruiting is complete)


Planning, dreaming, reading up about project details for warm season

Cracking nuts

Winter pruning

Preparing spiles for tree tapping

Drink chestnut beer

Dig sassafras root and cut black birch twigs

Harvest winter oyster mushrooms

Harvest native truffles if you can find them (and tell Zev!)

Trap squirrels and groundhogs

Re-make candles

Finish craft projects

Selective logging projects


Review forest gardening and permaculture principles, take classes to increase understanding and knowledge.

Tap maples, make syrup

Winter pruning

Starting some annual seeds (only things that can’t be replaced with perennials)

Flagging trees for thinning

Felling oak for shiitake inoculation

Dig and process kudzu root

Check bees on warm days

Harvest winter oyster mushrooms

Coppice nitrogen fixing trees

Stone work


Tapping maples, making syrup

Harvest first sochan, nettles, ramps, poke sallet, chickweed, dandelion

Plug shiitake logs

Felling tulip poplar for basket making and oyster mushroom plugging

Finish last minute winter pruning

Divide and transplant strawberries

Fell dying hemlocks for Ganoderma Tsugae (Applachian Reishi) innoculation

Dig and process kudzu root

Tap birch, make syrup

Harvest first shiitakes

Sample fall meads (but save most of them for aging at least 2 years).

Make dandelion kraut for spring digestive tonic (need some brassica to instigate ferment).


Peak ramp harvest; process and store ramps

Plug oyster mushroom logs

Divide and transplant herbaceous perennials

Plant asparagus

Coppice basswood and process fibers, eat basswood leaves from coppiced stumps

Plug G. tsugae hemlock logs

Admire serviceberry blossoms

Hunt morels

Make low alcohol spring tonic meads


Resist going insane with activity, leave time for rest

Coppice nettles to maintain fresh growth for eating

Hunt morels

Eat basswood leaves

Harvest Appalachian Reishi fresh tips for eating

Cut sochan flower stalks to maintain harvest

Plant milpa

First honey harvest (poplar)

Harvest black locust flowers for fritters, soda



Harvest juneberries (serviceberries)

Harvest elderberry blossoms for fritters, soda, medicine etc.

Harvest strawberries

Harvest/coppice lamb’s quarter and amaranth greens


Hammock siestas

Harvest mature Reishis for medicine


Harvest wineberries

Harvest early blueberries

Harvest strawberries

Mulberry harvest

Elderberry harvest

Eat amaranth and lamb’s quarter greens


Peak blueberry harvest

Mulberry harvest

Aronia berry harvest

Harvest elderberries

Start native koji, hanging nixtamal in corn husks under warm moist building eaves

Process quantities of annuals such as tomatoes, okra.

Harvest honey


Harvest groundhogs for meat and skin

Amaranth and lamb’s quarter seed harvest

Cranberry harvest

Make and preserve (dry) native koji starter

Harvest hazelnuts

Breed sheep for spring birth

Prune ginseng leaves to circumvent poachers (use leaves for tea and medicine!)

Make mead with excess fruit and honey

Start sauerkraut and other winter veggie salt-based ferments.


Hunting deer (check exact seasons yearly)

Harvest groundhogs for meat and skin

Chestnut harvest, make chestnut koji, make chestnut amaranth beer, shell and dry chestnuts, store in a bug-proof manner (layer between dried wormwood foliage).

Milpa harvest

Harvest white oak, chestnut oak, special hybrid oak acorns, store dried in acorn granaries.

Harvest burdock root

Begin harvesting sassafras root.

Harvest Maitake

Harvest ginseng root

Slaughter turkey for storage (or slaughter throughout winter to avoid storage issues)


Hunting deer and wild turkey (check exact seasons yearly)

Maitake harvest

Process, process, process food; abundance is busy.

Start at least 1 but no more than 3 major craft projects for the winter (baskets, bags, clothing, tool-making and repair).

Make native miso.

Plan selective logging projects

Sleep unabashedly.


Coppice most tree species.

Sit by fire, read stories, tell stories about previous year, feel emotions, don’t medicate with coffee all the time.

Do bulk of craft project work.

Drink chestnut beer.

Transform spiritual sugars gathered during growing season into starches that can fuel a renewed sprouting and flowering in the spring.

Begin selective logging projects.

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    “I could have sat with Chuck up on our hillside and talked for days, such was the extent of his knowledge. In fact, I only planned to hire him for 2 hrs, but I was learning so much I did not let him leave.
    I would highly recommend Chuck for any scale consulting job you might be considering. I found him to be extremely knowledgeable, amiable, and attentive to our needs goals while also suggesting things we had not thought about.”
    Fred Bahnson