Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

Since I'm a Vetiver junkie hedges -- and hedge making -- is a rite of passage.

But I'm also thinking that maybe there is more to a hedge than what we often assume. If the hedge is made of edible plants then its surely more-useful.

There's a interesting review of 'The Living Fences of Indonesia' -- LINK -- which flags a lot of plant variety options.

"Living fences, Pagar Hidup in Indonesian, are widespread across the Archipelago, with different species used on different islands...."

Since I'm embarking on another garden expansion I'm running out of space. That I want to grow trees and bushes rather than ground hugging veges complicates my perspective. But why plant ONE tree or bush, when you can plant a line of them? Serviced by cuttings.  To deal with issues of size and shade, you snip snip and shape your bushes to fit the space you allocated to them.

Traditionally, Katuk is grown in hedges if only because the bushes so easily fall over by themselves.

Sauropus androgynus:Star Gooseberry, Sweet Leaf Bush, Katuk

I'm also growing Mulberry around my chook pen -- as a hedge -- but realize I really haven;t planted the cuttings close enough for best effect. But look at this mulberry hedge:sets the bar real close.

Feijoa is also grown as a hedge and I'm sponsoring some of those bushes  from seed.As a hedge it's a classic landscape thing:

Feijoas (also known as Pineapple Guavas or Guavasteens)

Even Moringa can be cut down to hedge size

A front yard Moringa hedge

Seriously why get brutalized by food 'foresting' when you can trim and still let the sunshine in.

One of the most interesting hedges' is that cut from a line of Agati (susbania grandiflora).

Or even more brutally cut back:

Even Pigeon peas can be hedged.

Another hedge option I liked was Brazil Cherry (Eugenia uniflora) which I used to grow two gardens back.The added advantage with this plant is that  if the leaves are spread on the floor, so that when crushed underfoot, they exude a smell which repels flies. 

Eugenia uniflora

That some of these species are quite large if given the opportunity, but with cutting back, tightly planting and trimming them they can be kept to the size you prefer.

As well as a source of food, these hedges can be cut for mulch or to feed livestock.

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Looks as though a lot of space is needed for these hedges to succeed. How can the plants be cut back for the hedge and still provide edibles? Atm it seems to be mutually exclusive.

Seems to me that a number of the plants used provide leafy greens, mulch material etc as well as fruit. For the latter they can be allowed to fruit then be trimmed back to a tidy hedge - not unlike the smaller fruit trees kept pruned to a manageable size which most of us grow - only these are planted closer together and in a row.

Space is relative. Many of these species fruit on the new growth so you cut them back AFTER fruiting & harvest.

i just spent part of the morning harvesting from Pigeon Peas 2 metres tall -- now we'll cut them back to under a metre. Katuk and mulberry can be brutally cut and still come back when they are trimmed back in the cooler months.

For reference the English tradition of Hedgerow layering is an art form and skill that goes back a few thousand years. (LINK) Indeed, it is a major environmental intervention designed to replace fences.

Unfortunately, if hedgerows were the tradition here in Australia, our native flora and fauna would now be much better off.

In the domestic garden situation short hedge-row lengths can be fitted in where they can be put to use.

Jaboticaba is another great  fruiting hedge  plant - it fruits all along the trunk.

Yes, but it grows so slowly!

Great link Dave, there is so much beneficial info regarding those living fences, pity we don't have acreage. It re-enforces the fact that Moringa has so many benefits, it looks like a great survival tree.  Going by the picture given of Moringa, it can grow close as a hedge tree.   The hibiscus has properties that I did not know about. 

We have quite a few of those plants growing in our yard, and I find that the poinciana tree supplies us with large beans that are perfect to burn in our little rocket stove.  We are prohibited from having fires in BCC unless we use the fire in the house for heat or outside for cooking food.   Food for chickens and dogs would be a benefit but I suppose, if needed one would feed the other. 

That portia tree wood is absolutely beautiful as a table top.   Thanks for sharing, I must investigate further.

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