On Food Forest & Potagers | Gardenshop

Food forests and potagers are interesting ways of planting food gardens.  In the past few years it has gained more and more traction. However these concepts have been used historically for many centuries. Both food forests and potagers are integrated food garden designs focussing on sustainable bio-diverse food gardening with huge environmental benefits.

We’re all familiar with the concept of forests – lush, abundant expanses of pristine wilderness, teeming with life, a richness of biodiversity and awe-inspiring to behold. Trees and plants intertwined, filling every possible space, the very well-spring of life itself!

Forests exist fine on their own. There’s no mowing, weeding, spraying, or digging required. No pesticides, fertilisers, herbicides or nasty chemicals. No work and no people either. Now, imagine if everything in this lush, abundant, spectacular forest was edible!


Nature grows in a highly optimised pattern, utilising multiple layers and making the most of both horizontal and vertical space.

A food forest typically is comprised of seven layers

  • The uppermost layer is the canopy layer. The canopy layer is comprised of tall trees – typically large fruit and nut trees.
  • Between the tall canopy layer trees, there is a layer of low growing, typically dwarf fruit trees.
  • Nestled between all the small trees are the shrubs – which are well represented by currants and berries.
  • Filling the remaining space are the herbaceous layer, these are the culinary and medicinal herbs, companion plants and bee-forage plants.
  • Any remaining space is occupied by ground cover plants. These form a living mulch that protects the soil, reduces water loss to evaporation, and prevents weeds growing.
  • We can still go a level deeper to the rhizosphere, or root zone, the underground level which is occupied by all our root crops, such as potatoes, carrots, ginger etc.
  • While that might seem like a lot of plants in one space, we still have one more to fill, the upright vertical space. This is filled by climbers and vines like grapes, climbing beans, many berries, passionfruit, climbing peas and many other species that love to climb.


If your space is restricted you might want to consider a potager. A potager is based on the same integrated principles as a food forest and have intermingled vegetables, fruits, flowers, and herbs planted in an informal way.


There are many benefits to integrated bio-diverse planting.

  • Bio-diverse high density plantings ensure high crop yields
  • Natural mulch, compost and fertilizer
  • Natural pest control
  • Plant resilience through bio diversity
  • Easy soil repair


Spring is a very good time to get that food forest or potager going. Remember this is not an instant project. As the garden matures and become more independent the benefits of such a garden will escalate as well.

Join us this Friday  9 September 2022 for our FREE online workshop on: ‘Food Forests and Potagers’, with Garden Guru Sue Both. 

Please use the following login details to join us at 11am sharp over Zoom:

Meeting ID: 822 2387 1826

Passcode: 727759

or use the following direct link:

Garden Guru On Food Forests & Potagers | Gardenshop