One of the main points of distinguishing a permaculture garden from other varieties is that it only uses plants that best suit the local environment and climate, Morganthaler says. Because of its adaptability, permaculture gardens can grow in many different types of conditions. “A well-designed ecosystem will create its own ecosystem that allows plants to thrive and gradually return quality nutrients to the soil,” Morganthaler added.
Before you delve deeper, however, there are a few more things you should know about permaculture gardening, including its benefits, plus practical tips for planting your own garden at home.
What is permaculture gardening?
“Permaculture gardening is essentially the practice of designing your garden to harmonize your needs with the needs of the natural environment, in a mutually beneficial way,” said Rebecca Sears, chief garden expert at Ferry-Morse. “This means taking into account your local climate, choosing the best plants, creating nutrient-rich soil over time, and recycling waste.” She points out that permaculture gardening is also referred to as a “closed-loop” system, “meaning the ecosystem is self-sustaining and self-sufficient.”
The benefits of a permaculture garden
There are many benefits to creating a permaculture garden, the most important being that it is a completely natural way of gardening, so that less waste is created. “Most of the produce from the garden is used or shared with the community,” Morganthaler says. “If there are any waste products, they are composted and returned to the soil as natural fertilizer.”
Another plus is that you don’t use chemicals to keep pests at bay. “In the natural ecosystem, natural predators will help with the work that some pesticides would have done,” Morganthaler says.
Plus, it allows you to create whatever you need. “Once the permaculture garden is established, you become more self-reliant and can produce a wide variety of products from your land and keep any surpluses to consume as needed,” Morganthaler says.
How to make a permaculture garden, step by step
1. Decide on placement
To create your permaculture garden, Morganthaler recommends familiarizing yourself with your environment first to find the best spot. “Observe the native plants, insects, and any predators that are in the region that frequent your planting area,” she says. “Pay attention to when the location gets sun and if there are slopes or if the rainwater doesn’t run off.”
2. Choose your plants
Here comes the fun part: picking plants. Morganthaler suggests investigating first which types of plants do well in your natural environment. From there, she recommends a mix of annuals (that live one season) and perennials (that live many seasons) so you always have something growing.
That said, Sears admits that perennials do better in permaculture gardens. “Since the concept of a permaculture garden is based on gardening as sustainably as possible, it’s best to use perennials rather than annuals that don’t need to be replanted every year,” she explains. “This will save you a lot of digging, seeding and clearing at the end of each season, while using annuals in a permaculture garden would require a lot more soil nutrients to support their rapid growth rate.”
That said, if you need inspiration to start your own permaculture garden, Sears suggests Purple Coneflower Seeds (Echinacea), Lavender Munstead Plantlings, and Oregano Italian Plantlings. “It’s best to plant your perennials in the spring or fall – you can also plant in the summer, but keep in mind that they need to be watered more often, which goes against the purpose of permaculture,” she adds. ready. “You also need to consider how much direct sunlight each species needs, as this not only promotes the growth of your plants, but also determines the layout of your garden.”
3. Design your plot
We lied. Designing your permaculture garden may be the most fun part because the possibilities are endless. According to Morganthaler, a permaculture garden can be any shape. “You can use ground covers, shrubs, vegetables, and fruit trees and stack them if the light and water requirements for each plant are met,” she says. “You can use raised beds that are at least 6 to 12 inches above the ground. Leaf mulch — a process in which compost, mulch, straw or cardboard is placed on top of the grass and planted directly into it — is another option for plants.”
4. Plant your permaculture garden
Time to make it official and start planting. Morganthaler recommends starting with your taller plants and seeing how the light hits them. Then you can add smaller plants that need shade.
Pro Tip: Take your time with the planting process and adjust the design if necessary. “Now is a good time to double-check or change your planting design before planting too much,” Morganthaler says.
Morganthaler also recommends adding organic matter, such as natural compost from your kitchen, mulch or earthworms, to the plants without disturbing the soil.
5. Water your plants
Now that your permaculture garden is ready, the last step is to water your plants regularly. That said, Morganthaler recommends using the minimum amount of water needed for sustainability reasons and because the plants need to thrive in the natural environment. “An efficient drip irrigation system is a good choice because it places water right at the base of the plants with little evaporation,” she says. “Another option, depending on local state and city regulations, is to collect rainwater and recycle it into an irrigation system.”
Principles of permaculture
According to Sears, there are many things to consider when creating your permaculture ecosystem. However, the best way to get the most out of your permaculture plot is to focus on stacking plants, which will add more variety to your garden. “When designing your garden and choosing plants, consider a selection of vegetables, fruits and herbs to enjoy fresh produce at home, and consider companion plants to aid in pest control, pollination and crop productivity,” she suggests. “By adopting practices like these and consistently meeting the needs of your yard, you can make a smoother transition to greener living.”
However your garden grows, you can rest assured that it will leave the smallest possible environmental footprint.
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