This is a concept plan for a lot in Orlando, Florida. Orlando is in USDA planting zone 9b, experiencing hot, humid summers which can make growing a challenge, but also offering the enviable opportunity to grow cool season crops over the winter months. This is an ideal location for the creation of a food forest, which can be hugely productive in this climate zone.
However, the forest gardens created in this region operate somewhat differently from those in cooler climate zones, and strategies are also somewhat different from those used further south.
Canopy cover is key in sustainable food production in this area. Planting can be much denser than in cooler climate zones. Water management is important in the humid conditions, and micro-climate creation can allow zone nine gardeners in Florida to grow species which would typically thrive a little further south.
Below the canopy and throughout the lower layers of zone 9 food forest, an interesting duality emerges. Warm season annuals and heat-tolerant perennials dominate the system during the summer, while, with careful planning and planting, cool season planting can take over just as these are fading back. So nutrients cycle from summer plants, to winter plants, and back again.
In this design, sunken pathways are used for water management, and also serve the additional function of providing material for growing area creation. Over time, the goal is to create a hugely productive and self-sustaining system, which takes full advantage of the benefits of the growing conditions, while overcoming its challenges.
If you would like to know more about the details of this design, or would like help with your own zone 9 garden, please do get in touch.