What is a permaculture garden?
The Permaculture garden is a lot more than an organic garden. It is a system that is focused on closing the fertilizer loop by using waste, and reducing the dependence on inputs by creating healthy soil and diversity of produce.
So you have set up a permaculture garden and planted some powerhouse plants. But did you know that permaculture goes beyond the yard?
“Permaculture isn’t the garden, though gardening is certainly part of the big picture,” says Mari Keating, a devoted permaculture practitioner. “It’s the integration of the many separate elements involved in creating a sustainable and non-exploitive homestead.”
Now, advance your commitment to sustainability by beginning or expanding these 6 permaculture techniques to model nature, which, after all, is the core of maintaining the permaculture.
Permaculture is not just regulated to the realm of growing food. Here’s how you can make it a life-long practice:
1. Conserve resources
Conservation is the root of many ecologically-based practices. Permaculture design often involves mapping of the available resources, which may include space, water, people and materials, then approximating what uses are best for each existing resource, and what resources can be generated with minimal input.
Conservation can commence with some with small scale changes:
Turn off lights when you leave a room and the tap water when you brush your teeth. Wash clothes in cold water and hang them to dry. Compost food and lawn scraps rather than contributing to the landfill. Many permaculture homesteads also use solar power, gray water reclamation, and rocket stoves, to make best use of resources. While large projects might be your real goal, you can always start smaller ones with a single rain barrel for collecting rainfall, or solar dehydrator for instance.
2. Reuse materials
Sustainable systems tend to minimize all inputs, so rather than focusing on what you do not need to buy brand new and pricey, focus on the abundance of (un)used materials in your proximity. Craigslist and local Freecycle groups are full of amazing resources.
Always think outside the frame box and communicate your needs to your network—you will be surprised what might turn up. In my community, friends have made poultry pluckers from trash-picked washing machines, paid nothing for tons of patio sand offered on Craigslist, and created everything from garden beds to chicken coops to furniture from thrown-away pallets.
3. Build interdependence with your community
For many individuals, who want to develop self-reliance, it is tempting to “gear up” and make sure they have purchased every tool they may need in the household. However, this only increases the pressure on you and the Earth. Instead, focus on building a community of folks you can rely on for skilled services and tools. For instance, I own and share a cider press, while I borrow a friend’s meat slicer. Not only does sharing make the best use of expensive tools, but also the act of working together creates a deeper sense of purpose and connection with the, sometimes, defeating world.
4. Pace with the seasons
Because permaculture is about restoring and mimicking nature, practitioners consider the seasons of nature in planning and implementing projects. Outdoors, the spring is for preparatory activities, the summer for planting, the fall for harvesting and the winter for planning anew. Whenever possible, time projects to work with seasonal temperatures and weather change. It is much easier to tackle building during the spring and fall, for instance. Avoid digging in winter because disturbing frozen soil is difficult if even possible.
Throughout the seasons, nature finds time to create beauty and rest. Be sure to apply the pattern in your lives as well.
5. Respond with creativity
Mother Earth, fellow citizens, government officials, and some other circumstances, can create bumps on the road to your permaculture dream. No one likes to have their path diverted, but such is the nature of living and working. Permaculture calls for you to respond with creativity, compassion and passion.
When faced with a potential problem, consider all the alternatives that will be a win-win move for the parties involved. Think of the possible solutions and be ready to try something else if that doesn’t work. Sometimes life works in such a way that what once seemed like a roadblock leads to a more beautiful solution than the original picture.
6. Invest in what really matters
Not all of us desire or are able to create a typical permaculture homestead. If you still want to encourage the permaculture lifestyle, do so by investing in other alternative ways. Buy food from farmers practicing restoration agriculture. Contribute to microloan and crowd-funding permaculture projects. Reject economic systems that are divisive and extractive, choosing socially conscious mutual funds and banks instead.
Finally, all of us, regardless of the resources, have the ability to read, write, speak and create art that spreads the word about permaculture. Conversation by conversation, this is how good ideas spread