Often, gardeners and farmers will focus on plants which provide yields in the short term. They will grow annual fruits and vegetables, and, perhaps, plant fruit bushes and fruit trees which will yield only a year or two after planting.
But great gardens and farms seek to provide for people and wildlife not just in the short term, and not only in the medium term either, but also for future generations. Growers who really want their efforts to be sustainable need to be much more far-sighted. They should sometimes plant for yields that they themselves won’t even see.
Integrating longer term, much longer term, goals into a design for your property can help to ensure that you really are not just building a better present, but also really helping to create a better future.
There are ways to integrate long term projects into a design which can also provide more immediate yields. Silvo-arable schemes which integrate arable crops or vegetables between nut trees is just one example of this.
Here in Scotland, many common culinary nut trees do not thrive. The hazel is one which does, and chestnuts can thrive in some areas. One interesting idea being explored, however, is the potential of the monkey-puzzle tree, Araucaria araucana.
Native to Chile, this tree does remarkably well in Scotland. The tree, endangered in its native range, could find a home here and be useful. It could become a useful protein source for the future, particularly in western parts of the country where not many other nuts can be grown.
But growers need to be forward thinking, since cones are not produced for at least 20 years, and usually more like 40. So including these in a planting scheme on a farm or in a much larger garden is just one example of planting for the long term which could potentially pay off down the line.
The rewards could be great if more people were willing to plant for their grandchildren, and not just for themselves.