Conventional gardening uses the same methods for growing food regardless of the location. Its central concepts are based on what gardeners want to grow, not on what plants best suit the land.
Permaculture gardening uses the concept of using the best plants for the climate and using only what works best for the local environment.
A variety of factors must be considered when landscaping. Different approaches are required for landscaping in dry versus humid climates. Additionally, hot and cold climates support different types of flora. There are a variety of factors that must be taken into account when determining the best approach for a particular location.
Permaculture techniques can be adapted to any climate, depending on the plant hardiness zone.
Luckily, a lot of permaculture gardening designs are effective in a ton of different climates.
The permaculture philosophy also focuses on building up soils to gradually make them more nutrient-rich and well-balanced over time. Soil is the base from which our food grows.
Almost all of the health advantages of raising your own food come from having nutrient-rich soil.
When permaculture systems are designed well, they are sustainable and easier to take care of. Permaculture gardens create ecosystems that can revitalize the earth, keeping the plants healthier.
HOW DOES PERMACULTURE WORK?
An example of a permaculture system would be a roof that is designed to catch water, which can then be used in the kitchen. The water would then drain into a gray water irrigation system.
The plants are fed by the elements in the system, which provides food and fuel in the form of wood. The elements are then recycled back into the system as compost, with no waste created in the process.
Permaculture is more than a design, it is a way of life that helps the planet instead of hurting it.
There are many ways to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle, and permaculture is one approach that takes many of these ideas into account. From reusing bags and buying secondhand clothing, to eating local food, there are many simple ways to make a difference.
Farming is not limited to growing food. It is also a way to conserve resources and renewable energy. It is also a new way to shop. It is all of these things and more.
Although permaculture has a set of ethics, it is open to different approaches. Anything that is effective in taking care of people and the planet can be a part of permaculture.
It is more difficult to condensedly define permaculture than it is to put it into practice.
KEY PERMACULTURE PRINCIPLES
There are about a dozen design principles that are typically used by those who practice permaculture.
The permaculture principles are focused on using nature as a way to create designs that are productive and efficient while also being eco-friendly. This is done in order to meet human needs while also taking care of the planet.
As the co-founder of the permaculture movement, David Holmgren, explains, the principles begin with observing and interacting with nature.
The key to sustaining this growth is to find renewable sources of energy, like water and gravity, and to produce abundance while still regulating ourselves.
There are limits to consumption because nature provides resources, energy, and time for balance.
The principles of permaculture emphasize that achieving success is not only based on how much we produce, but also on other factors.
In order for systems to avoid stockpiles of waste and pollution, they must be constantly renewed and cyclical. This can be accomplished by designing meaningful patterns, in which waste products become assets.
Kitchen scraps can be used to feed worms which in turn provide aeration and nutrients to the soil to help grow more food. The food grown can provide more kitchen scraps to continue the cycle.
Instead of using the same methods as factory farms, permaculture farms require integrative techniques. This means that the different elements of the permaculture design work together to create a stable system, similar to how it happens in nature.
Achieving stability requires a diverse array of plants, landscapes, insects, and animals.
No matter what type of garden design you have, you will eventually run into some challenges. Rather than trying to find a one-size-fits-all solution, permaculture principles suggest that you adapt your methods to the specific situation. This way, you can work with the obstacles instead of against them.
HOW TO START YOUR PERMACULTURE GARDEN – STEP BY STEP
Step 1 – Decide Where Your Garden Will Go
If you have a large backyard, the most obvious place to put your garden is in that space. The only thing you have to consider is which part of the yard you want your garden to be in.
You can help start your own permaculture garden or help contribute to other people’s gardens, even if you don’t have access to land of your own.
If you don’t have space for a garden at your home, you should look into joining a community garden. Many cities have plots of land that are designated for public use and people often garden together in these areas.
If you rent an apartment, you can ask your landlord if it would be possible to create a garden on the roof. This would have been unheard of a few years ago.
All around the world, more and more cities are giving tax breaks to building owners who put green roofs on their structures.
The building owner would be able to take advantage of tax savings if you were to grow plants on the roof.
If you want to create a permaculture garden, you can ask your friends who have yards if they would be willing to let you use a portion of their land.
Some homeowners would be willing to let you use their land to grow food in exchange for a portion of what you harvest, or if you agree to weed and take care of the flowerbeds that are already there.
Step 2 – Observe Your Land
Although you may have looked at your yard many times, you may not know everything about it. If you take the time to walk around it, you may be surprised by what you find.
- Is there actually a bit of a slope in one section of your yard?
- Does the ground seem to pool in one part of the yard after it rains, where it might be too wet for things to grow?
- Do you have a big tree in your yard that you won’t want to plant, because the ground is too full of roots and its leaves will block out too much sunlight?
- What kinds of animals and insects (both beneficial and pests) do you see as you look around?
- Do you have any unique resources or features you can take advantage of?
- What areas get the most sun in the morning versus the afternoon?
Step 3 – Design Your Garden
After you have observed the space you are working with, you should have a good idea of which factors to consider, such as shade, elevation, and areas where children will play or people will gather.
You should also take note of where you will get water from, and plan accordingly. This may be from a water tap on the outside of your home, a pond, or some other source.
You should think about where you want to plant annual or perennial plants, taking into account how much space they will need as they grow.
It is possible to adjust your plans for your yard as your wants or requirements fluctuate. By taking a short amount of time to measure your yard, you will be able to construct a more precise representation.
If you are struggling to find the shape of something, you can use the satellite view from Google Maps.
The fourth step is to install water systems and other infrastructure. This includes putting in a water treatment plant, a septic system, and a power generator. After the home is physically built, water systems and other infrastructure must be installed. This fourth step includes adding a water treatment plant, septic system, and power generator.
Water systems are integral to the success or failure of a permaculture garden. Water is a valuable resource that must be managed sustainably.
Water pooling, runoff, and drainage should be considered during the design phase of your property.
If you have a lot of space, you could put in a swale to collect water.
Another option for saving water is to collect rainwater from your roof and store it in barrels or cisterns. This water can then be used for watering plants or cleaning tools.
Step 5 – Build and Prepare Your Beds
Sheet mulching, or lasagna gardening, is a way to make more space for planting.
You don’t need to dig up grass to start mulching; the grass underneath will die and become part of the soil.
Sheet mulching is an easier alternative to removing grass and tilling the soil before planting.
The advantage to not tilling the soil is that it doesn’t disturb the microbes or weed seeds that may be buried underground.
If you want to sheet mulch, it’s best to do it in the fall so that the materials have time to decompose before you plant in the spring.
Spot planting is a gardening technique in which you dig a hole or remove a small section of grass in order to plant a new plant. The advantage of spot planting is that the new plant can start growing immediately.
If you want to start a garden, but it is already spring or summer, this might be a better option for you.
You won’t get the same benefits for your soil if you use no-till gardening as you would with sheet mulching, so you may need to add things to the soil like compost or organic slow-release fertilizer.
Spread a layer of straw over the planted area to help prevent weeds and hold in moisture.
Step 6 – Plant Perennials First
You should try to find native plants for your area, as they will be the best suited for it. Even though you may be able to find plants that meet those criteria, they may not provide the fuel, fiber, and food that you need.
Although you can grow perennials from seed, it is better to buy transplants or bare-root saplings for many plants, such as asparagus or fruit trees, as it will take several years before they bear fruit. This way, you can minimize the time before you are able to harvest from them.
Local garden clubs are a great place to find less-common plants. If you can’t find what you’re looking for there, many nurseries have the option to order online or by mail order.
It is always best to buy plants from a local nursery since the plants will be better adapted for the climate, weather conditions, and soil in your area.
You can optimize your chances of success later by choosing healthy plants now and getting rid of the others for compost. Also, planting more densely at first deters the growth of weeds.
At this point you can also start some companion planting. For example, placing onions and chives under trees to prevent digging pests and disease. Or flowers to help begin attracting pollinators.
Step 7 – Add-In Annuals
You probably want to add in lots of annuals to fill all the extra space in your garden for the first few years, while your perennials are still taking root.
If you want your garden to look like it belongs in a permaculture, consider adding flowers and lots of greens.
Sunflowers are a great plant for filling big spaces.
Radishes are a great addition to any garden because they are low maintenance and will provide you with lots of seeds if you’re lucky. You can also chop and drop their large stalks at the end of the growing season to add nutrients back into the soil.
If you want to grow food or make money from your garden, annual plants will make up most of what you grow during your first few years.
Step 8 is to watch your garden grow and then maintain it. Make sure to keep an eye on it so that weeds don’t take over and strangle your plants. Also, don’t forget to water it regularly!
Having a garden should make you happy just by looking at it and being around it if you’re really into it. Use this chance to figure out how your garden works.
You will be able to reap the rewards of the healthiest and most productive plants in your first year, but a lot of the initial satisfaction will simply come from seeing what is successful and what works in general.
Make sure to set some time every week or so to weed. It’s not too bad if you stay on top of it, but if you let them grow for too long, they can get out of control very quickly.
Step 9 – Composting
As the first season is coming to an end, there will be a lot of leftover plant matter. Now is a good time to start composting so there will be extra nutrient-rich soil for next year.
The principles of permaculture include trying to run your garden as waste-free as possible by incorporating waste products back into the system.
You can simply add your yard waste and kitchen scraps to the compost bin over time, and there will be very little maintenance required.
You can also use a batch or tumbling composter to speed up the decomposition process, but you will need to turn it over every day and make sure it stays moist.
Step 10 – Get Involved With Your Community
There are many gardeners who are just as passionate permaculture as you are. Find a local group to get involved in.
Joining a gardening club or group can be beneficial for everyone involved. Beginner gardeners can find others to share the journey with, and advanced gardeners can mentor them and answer any questions they have. Everyone can stay up to date on the latest gardening trends by sharing information about their gardens, what works and what doesn’t.