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Permaculture Gardening

If designed correctly, a permaculture garden can produce high yeild with little maintenance.

permagarden

The Philosophy

A permaculture garden is designed as a self-sustaining system in which all elements involved are used to their maximum potential in the most sustainable manner. True to the philosophy itself, the permaculture garden mimics natural habitats in that the system works as a continuous cycle; there is no weed unwanted or waste product unused.

Strength Through Diversity

In the permaculture garden each component serves more than one function: needing more or less of nutrients, growth habit (shade or climbers), and pest control and is achieved through concious companion planting. The recipe for a strong and diverse garden:

  • Food for people - the diversity of food maximizes health and nutritional benefits.
  • Food for soil - legumes are Nitrogen fixers; dynamic accumulators (comfrey, daikon radish, chicory) have long taproots to bring nutrients from deep in the soil.
  • Diggers - deeply rooted plants break up the soil, which allows for better air and water absorption.
  • Groundcovers - protects the soil from the sun, which retains moisture and controls weed growth (gourds, melons, potatoes, persilane)
  • Climbers - helps maximize food production by added dimension (beans, peas)
  • Supporters - climbers depend these structures (tall plants, houses, walls, sticks)
  • Protectors - strong smelling plants are protection against insect damage (onions, chives, garlic, pungent flowers, herbs)

How the Permaculture Garden Works

As a self-sustaining system, the permaculture garden has many elements and resources that support each other in a continuous cycle.

The use of grey water systems is a very important aspect of permaculture gardening because it is an example of using a natural resource to its highest potential. An advantage to using grey water is that it lessens the dependency on freshwater, and the chemicals and energy used in water treatment plants; it also increases the awareness of the cycles of water in natural systems.

Container gardening is a way to grow food even without having a backyard. You can grow indoors or outdoors- rooftops, patios, stairs, sidewalks, and basically anywhere that you can find space. An advantage to container gardening is deciding where to grow your plants, thus potentially improving your microclimate by placing the containers where the plants will thrive the most.

Permaculture Design Elements

Every design element in permaculture uses natural ecosystems as patterns to study and mimic for the creation of a new type of agriculture, which in turn encompasses higher yields.

Tire Tower

A great way to grow potatoes is in a tire tower, which basically consists of a few tires stacked on top of each other, compost and soil mixture, and some mulch. The tire tower is also known as a vertical stacking technique that uses minimal space for the maximum amount of plants. The use of tires is a good way to recycle old, out of commission tires that otherwise will end up on the side of the road somewhere as a fire hazard and pollution problem.

potato
A thriving potato tire tower.

Spiral Garden

The spiral is a popular design method because it is a beautiful addition to any garden and is a stacking for diversity method. All design patterns in permaculture gardening are mirrors of natural landscapes, shapes, and occurrences. The spiral, for instance, can be found on the snail shell. This design is in the shape of a small mound leading upwards towards one point. Some ideas for spiral gardens are salad greens, herbs, or flowers.

spiral
A spiral garden in Lotan's ecolocial garden supports different plant types.

Food Forest

The food forest is one of the best examples of reintroducing natural systems into gardening because it begins to recreate the natural stacking and mulching methods naturally found in a forest. In the food forest there are the perennial trees, which are used for wood, biogas, and food. Then follow mostly annuals: bushes, shrubs, climbers, creepers, and root vegetation. The food forest isn’t weeded because of the heavy mulch and the dense layers of edible vegetation, so in its entirety, the food forest is a self- sustaining, densely grown permaculture garden.

Resources:

  • Article: “Growing Potatoes in Tyres,” Michael Guerra. Permaculture Magazine. Spring 1994
  • Book: Edible Forest Gardens, Vol. 2: Ecological Design And Practice For Temperate-Climate Permaculture by Dave Jacke and Eric Toensmeier
  • Book: Permaculture Garden by Graham Bell
  • Book: Smart Permaculture Design by Jenny Allen, Steve Demasson, and Bill Mollison
  • Book: Edible Container Garden by Michael Guerra

 


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Based on a work at www.kibbutzlotan.com.