While we may not be able to make large changes, a whole lot of little changes can add up to a revolution.  A small way to make a big change is to grow a garden using permaculture techniques.  

With permaculture, you’ll spend less time weeding and more time harvesting! Savour the taste of fresh, organic produce and grow nourishment for your body and soul.

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    Easier than you think

    Permaculture is a sustainable way of gardening that requires less work and energy than traditional gardening. It also reduces the need for fertilizers, pesticides, and other chemicals, which can be expensive. The result is healthier soil, plants, animals, people—and a cleaner environment too!

    What is a Permaculture Garden?

    Permaculture is a design system that provides a holistic approach to sustainable living. It is based on three ethics: Earth Care, People Care, and Fair Share.  It takes far less time to garden in this way than you may think.

    The idea behind permaculture gardening is to use only hand tools and minimal human labour. The only tools you’ll need are a shovel, rake and small trowel. The idea here is to not disturb the soil any more than necessary.  

    Tilling the soil will introduce too much oxygen, which acts to kill the soil organisms that live on and around plant roots. This allows for weeds, which are less “picky” about the soil in which they grow.

    In this section, we will explore the different ways to prepare your garden for permaculture and discuss some of the best practices for permaculture. I will also talk about the principles of permaculture and how you can learn more about it in future articles.

    How do you Make a Permaculture Vegetable Garden?  

    Preparation

    Plot preparation can be as simple as layering a mat of cardboard or thick layers of newsprint where you plan to plant.  If the weeds are well established, cut them down before you layer the cardboard.  

    There’s no concern here about existing vegetation as the thick cardboard mulch will kill the weeds.  So, we have eliminated dubious chemicals and poisons from your garden shed.  

    On top of this, you will layer 6 to 12 inches of straw or gravel laid out in rows so you can walk between raised beds or mounds.  Here the idea is to keep the rows no wider than you can comfortably reach from both sides–about 2 feet.  Notice that I didn’t say to till, dig or poison the garden plot.  It is so much simpler to use permaculture techniques in your garden.

    Planting your Productive Permaculture Garden

    To plant seeds, you can sprinkle them right on the soil’s surface in most cases.  Then pull any mulch over this.  The mulch acts to help the soil retain moisture so you don’t have to water as often.  The mulch gradually breaks down and adds to the soil, as the seeds germinate and grow.

    Planting starts like lettuce is easy as pulling back the straw, poking a hole in the cardboard, placing the little plant in and pushing back the straw.  This works even in heavy soils.  Allow the greenery of the plant starts to barely come above the mulch, even gently pulling off an older leaf to stimulate growth.

    When it comes to weeding, it is a simple matter of snipping the emerging greenery. The idea is to not let the weeds go to the flowering stage where they would quickly go to seed.  

    Productive Permaculture Garden

    Harvesting

    At the time of harvest, you take a head of lettuce, for example, and would just cut the head off and leave the roots. The lettuce will continue to produce some leaves till the first frost that you may continue to harvest and use.  This is just one way to harvest. I prefer to have a kitchen garden where I cut leaves from the outside of lettuces, arugula, and spinach plants. In this way, I can have continuous salad greens for many months of the year.

    Over winter the roots will die and add to the soil.  When harvesting beans or tomatoes, you take the fruit; pull the greens and leave to break down with the mulch.  No composting this way and no waste.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Are permaculture and organic farming the same?

    A permaculture garden is a garden that is designed to be sustainable or even regenerative. It is a type of organic gardening that has been around for over 40 years. The main goal of a permaculture garden is to create an ecosystem with the goal of sustainability.

    What is the difference between horticulture/permaculture/regular gardening?

    Permaculture gardens are different from traditional gardens in many ways. They use natural processes and techniques, such as water harvesting, composting, and natural pest control. A permaculture garden also has a focus on growing perennial plants as well as annuals which creates a more sustainable ecosystem.

    A permaculture garden is a self-sufficient ecosystem that can produce food, clean water, and energy. This type of gardening is also known as sustainable gardening.

    How much space do you need for permaculture?

    You can use permaculture practices in very small spaces–even in a windowsill box or container.

    What is vegan permaculture?

    Vegan permaculture doesn’t use any animal by-products in any part of the process.

    Summary

    Having a productive permaculture garden involves a bit of planning around what and when you will plant and thinking about the number of days to maturity as well as harvest dates. I use an intensive planting method that allows me to plant companion plants that work well together and also deter pests and plant many different kinds of plants in one space. This allows me to have an almost continuous harvest throughout the year with different things growing. Learning permaculture is possibly one of the most responsible skills any homeowner and gardener could learn and as you can see it isn’t like learning rocket science. Take a strong back and a rake to the garden next spring.

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