Sunday, May 4, 2014

International Permaculture Day

And today is International Permaculture day!

Two garden related days in a row, woo hoo!

For those unaware of what permaculture is, it's short for 'permanent agriculture,' a term first coined by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in 1978. Although it's been expanded now to mean 'permanent culture,' since there are social aspects to this as well as physical.

"Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless labor; and of looking at plants and animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single product system." - Bill Mollison

I like to think of it as 'super lazy gardening that's better for the environment.' Basically, figuring out what is going to happen in your garden, naturally, and make it work for you.

An example: growing a fruit tree. It's going to have weeds grow underneath, right? So instead of weeding that area for the rest of your life, plant some quick growing plants under the fruit tree that you WANT there.  Plants that fix nitrogen in the soil, or attract bees, or are herbs you can eat. Plants that reseed. Weed out the ones you don't want and then the ones you DO want get to be a high enough population, you don't HAVE to weed. Your plants are out-competing the plants you don't want.

And maybe do more. If the fruit tree needs shade, plant a bigger tree in an area where it will give this fruit tree shade. If it needs more nitrogen in the soil, rather than add nitrogen, plant legumes around it. If it needs a lot of mulch, plant things that drop a lot of leaves around it to make mulch, or grow things around it that you can chop and drop to the ground for mulch. Does it need manure? Try to plant things under or near it that will attract the local animals and they will add that without your help. Plant things that attract the animals or insects that eat pests bothering your fruit tree. The list goes on and on.

Do a little extra planting and planning now, so you have to do next to nothing later, but have very healthy soil and plants (and animals and you).

That, to me, is what permaculture is.

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