Growing your own can be far more than just planting a few vegetables to enjoy straight from your garden, it can be the start of a new way of living.
One that looks to work in harmony with people, place and planet, and one that restores, replenishes, regenerates and works with nature, rather than against it.
Welcome to the world of permaculture. A way of gardening that brings a truly holistic approach to growing by restoring the balance to not just our gardens, but our lives, neighbourhoods and communities too.
But what is permaculture?
Well, in its simplest form, it is a design philosophy that started life in Australia amid the turmoil of the oil crisis of the 1970’s, amid fears over food insecurity and the realisation that our approach to farming and food production was harmful to, just about, everything.
In fact, the rise of the world’s ‘mega farm’ and monoculture has undoubtedly led to the dramatic loss of biodiversity, the rapid decline in the world’s pollinators and the depletion of our soil – with great swathes of, once, fertile land now lying barren.
In fact, every year 75 billion tons of fertile soil is lost to land degradation.
Source – United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification
Meanwhile, the four main crops the world now depend upon, namely; wheat, maize, rice and soybean have become ever more reliant on harmful chemicals and pesticides to grow and survive.
The reality is, man has meddled with nature because there is no monoculture in nature and in order to thrive, nature demands variety and so do we.
Permaculture gardening is about creating self-sustaining spaces that employ a variety of uses that are all widely beneficial to nature.
The great thing about permaculture gardening is that by working with nature you get higher yields for less effort. Yes, higher yields with less effort!
No catch, it really is a win-win to healthy living and you don’t need a vast plot to benefit from applying some, or all of its techniques.
In fact, you can create a completely sustainable, edible oasis in any backyard. One that will supply you with an abundance of fresh organic food and clean water.
Incredibly, the first step to reaping the benefits of a successful permaculture garden is observation, because every outdoor space is unique and will have its own micro-climate. Taking time to observe and understand our outdoor space is how we can maximise its growing potential.
The amount of sunlight, wind and rain our gardens receive will vary greatly so learning to recognise these variants will help us identify what to plant and why.
Working with nature, the permaculture garden brings ‘symbiosis’ to life. Although you may just want to plant radishes, the permaculture garden needs us to look at planting a range of complementary plants and vegetables, so that we enrich the soil, encourage wildlife and deliver foods that are packed full of nutrients and flavour.
When planning a permaculture garden, it is important to consider the location. Wherever we live, we all have habits and routines, the same applies to our outside spaces.
If you are growing salad crops, for example, or herbs, make sure they are easily accessible so that they get the amount of attention they require, whereas crops that need little attention can be placed further away from you.
Here are our top 5 permaculture benefits:
- It helps retain moisture
- It helps prevent soil erosion
- It helps to create humus, the rich, dark soil created when your composting has fully broken down.
- It enriches and fertilises the soil
- And, a good covering of mulch, will help you to suppress weeds
In essence, the permaculture garden simply refers to a garden that takes care of itself, and that is why people all over the world have adopted the permaculture principals in their own backyard and municipal spaces – helping to create truly sustainable spaces that benefit people, place and planet.
Permaculture also works to benefit gardeners by bringing natural solutions to the most frustrating and environmentally challenging problems like slugs. For instance, by utilising simple planters filled with water to attract frogs you can keep slugs at bay.
Interested? Then why not take time to learn about Ali and his Peace December project in Uganda where he is teaching local farmers in permaculture practices.