Designing Your Permaculture Garden

by Traci Knight

Permaculture is the practice of designing landscapes that mimic patterns in nature in order to achieve sustainable land and water management, as well as food production. There is no size restriction for using permaculture techniques and principles. Creating permanent agriculture in your yard requires planning and thought but is certainly possible for your own home. Established gardens can easily be changed into thriving permacultures within a relatively short period of time. Remember, the idea is to create a self managing system using ecological ethics that is not labor intensive to start or maintain. Permaculture - new feature

Permaculture Zones

Zones are divided by how frequently you visit the area. This saves energy by reducing travel and giving attention to areas of focus. Using relative location helps connect inputs with outputs. For example, a rain barrel is best placed next to a drainpipe. Chickens could be near annual beds that need occasional tilling or pest control. Zones are not restrictive. They may merge and overlap or have distinct edges. permaculture zones

Zone 0 = House

Zone 1 = Most frequented part of the garden. Everything that needs a lot of attention goes in zone 1. For example, kitchen and medicinal herbs should be growing at your doorstep or in container gardens. Seedlings could be on your path to the car. Perhaps growing salad greens along the walk to the chicken coop. Rain barrels and compost systems should be in zone 1 as well as frequently eaten foods like vegetables and certain berries. Greenhouses and small animal pens also belong in Zone 1.

Zone 2 = Plantings and systems that don’t require daily care. Water catchment systems can be placed in zone 2 or in the perimeter zones. Shrubs and vegetables that will only need to be harvested a few times a year like potatoes or artichokes. Vegetable vines that take over such as cucumber, or gourds like pumpkins and squash.

Zones 3-5 = Primarily for people with large plots of land. Less intensely managed orchards, beehives, croplands, and pastures, all the way to untamed bush. Zone 5 is an area left entirely to nature’s will. worm bin

Homemade Fertilizer

Through a variety of composting systems and soil building techniques, permaculture setups become self sustaining. NPK stands for Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K), which are the micronutrients that make up the bulk of most fertilizers. Rather than buying inorganic fertilizers, natural methods can be used for soil enrichment. Chicken manure composted with hay, straw, or wood chips makes a valuable soil additive. Worm bins are a great way to compost kitchen scraps (no meat please). The byproduct of these bins are worm castings and worm tea, both highly prized fertilizers. Even freshwater aquariums can be a great fertilizer. Simply harvest the water during the cleaning process and use it to fertilize. Aquaponic systems can be designed for more advanced permaculture systems that utilize fish ponds as both a food and fertilizer source.

water catchment garden

Water Management Systems

In a future that promises less access to water resources, harvesting water and drainage is critical to the health of your permaculture design. Self watering raised beds, water catchment systems such as swales and diversion ditches, along with recycling grey water are important to consider when planning for land use. Pools and ponds, slow moving waterways, and dry creeks can all be part of your working water cycle. Water Catchment System

Permaculture Principles

Understanding the basic principles behind permaculture design can help provide a better understanding of how to arrange your garden. Creativity within this process is key. Make it your own.

1. Observe and Interact – Engage with nature to find solutions

2. Catch and Store Energy – Collect resources while they are abundant

3. Obtain a yield – Build functionality into your design

4. Apply self regulation and accept feedback – Self maintaining systems require ethics

5. Use and value renewable resources and services – Reduce consumption/Use nature

6. Produce no waste – Connecting inputs and outputs

7. Design from Patterns to Details – Using patterns from nature

8. Integrate rather than Segregate – Find connections 9. Use Small and Slow Solutions – Local over global

10. Use and Value Diversity – Zone 5 area to let nature have it’s will

11. Use Edges and Value the Marginal – Look for where ecosystems meet

12. Creatively Use and Respond to Change – Plan and design for known changes Establishing permaculture helps people learn how to be self reliant. It values thoughtful planning over financial investment, especially for those without an abundance of acreage. In keeping with the flow of nature, these permanent designs are both functional and beautiful. Creating integrated permaculture systems is an active way to move into the future with resilience, offering solutions rather than focusing on the problems of the new millennium. Open-Source-Permaculture--537x449


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Categories: Permaculture

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