Permaculture 101

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How to garden properly

Text of Permaculture 101

  • His principles may seem unrealistic, but if you take a deeper dive into his philosophy, it might just open your eyes to a world of possibilities. Id like to introduce you to Masanobu Fukuoka, a celebrated Japanese farmer and phi-losopher who showed us how productive natural farming methods can be. His farming practice requires no machines and no chemicals. His method creates no pollution and requires no fossil fuels. With how fast technology is improving, its hard for us to remember what those days were like when we didnt have machines. I chose to begin with Fukuoka, because I believe that we can gain a lot of insight from him and apply what we learn to our own home gardens and our lives.

    OurInspiration

    MasanobuFukuokasNatural Way

    Before I speak about what permaculture is, I would first like to start off by introducing you to a man whose ultimate goal was to cultivate our perspective on agriculture. He saw no need for synthetic means and he beleived natural was the way to go.

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  • His mission to farm naturally by mimicking nature and keep-ing human-supplied products out of the equation is exactly what we should strive for when discussing permaculture. Try to keep as many synthetic products out of your garden as you can - including fertilizer. So without further adieu, lets explain what permaculture is.

    Permaculture is the philosophy of working with, rath-er 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.1

    Close your eyes and image your garden as a permanent and natural component of your space. If youre having trouble visualiz-ing this, think of your garden as a design project.

    HowcanImakethisawesome? WhatcanIdowithittodoso? HowcanImimicnaturetoprovidethebesttasting,highest yieldingharvest? WhatshouldIputinmygarden? WhatshouldIkeepoutofit? ArethereanyprocessesthatIshouldgetstartedwithprior tosowingmyseeds?

    1Mollison, B. (1991). Intrvoduction to permaculture. Tasmania, Australia: Tagari. Vital Origins, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

  • Design ProjectYes, those are indeed worms to the right, which are actually pretty beneficial to

    your soil. This will all make sense in just a second. First, I want you to do this:

    Grab a piece of paper and a pencil, or pen if you prefer.

    Sketch out your space and how you imagine your future garden. It doesnt matter if it doesnt look perfect. The purpose of this ex-ercise is to help you visualize your garden and figure out how to maximize efficiency. You might not believe me, but the more work you put into it now, the less you will have to do later. Just think of the 5Ps:

    Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance.

    Draw it the way you would build it. Think about how you would put it all together in real time.

    Ill give you an example of one of my sketches, which will lead intothe next few subjects that well cover. This sketch was fromwhen I built a worm tower.

    1.

    2.

    3.

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  • If you dont know much about composting, dont worry, because youre in the right place.

    Compost is quintessentially de-composed organic materials. It is the key to a healthy, long-lasting, and natural vegetable or fruit gar-den. While composting may seem complicated, its actually really sim-ple and easy to do. Composting involves a combination of digested and undigested food that is left on the forest (or your garden) floor. The end product is a rich, soft soil. Its amazing how a natural process can transform everyday waste into a gardeners fortune. Not only is composting good for the garden, its our environmental responsibility to breakdown organic waste instead of ditching it in landfills.

    Composting is taking a natural process and bringing it to a more compact form, says Scott Murray, owner of the organic Edge of Urban Farm in Vista, CA. Think of the forest floor: As leaves fall from trees, they generally land on the ground, moisture is added from rain and the leaves start to decom-pose and build the soil. If youve ever been to a spot where the leaves are really thick and start digging through the layers, therell be leaves that look almost like they just fell and then leaves that are starting to turn black and decompose. Down at the bottom, the leaves will be almost unrecognizable, and the soil will be there - in a rich and healthy environment - full of microorganisms ready to help your plants thrive.

    The concept of composting involves saving all the organic materials created on our property. It doesnt have to just be the kitchen, it can also be weeds that you pull from your garden, trimmings from trees and shrubs, etc. All these materials can be brought together and piled up.

    Composting

    The Big Picture

    What is a worm tower?

    A worm tower is an alternative to having a sep-arate compost bin or worm farm. Before we get too ahead of ourselves, lets take a step back and talk about what composting is.

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  • What is a raised bed?Take a look at the images on this page. Those are raised beds!

    Are there benefits?Best believe it! Continue onto the next page to find out more...

    What's With All Of This

    RAISED BED- fuss? -

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  • Keeps pathway weeds from your garden soil. Prevents soil compaction. Provides excellent drainage and serves as a barrier to pests, such as slugs and snails.

    Better Soil Conditions

    Keeps your valuable garden soil from being eroded or washed away during heavy rains. Aids in water con-servation while at the same time allows you to enrich and build the soil through the constant addition of or-ganic matter.

    More Efficient Irrigation

    ...over Traditional In-Ground Gardens. According to Pete Lane at Ohio State University, In a tradition-al home [in-ground] garden, good management may yield about .6 pounds of vegetables per square foot. Records of production over three years in a raised bed at Dawes Arboretum near Newark, Ohio, indicate an average of 1.24 pounds per square foot, more than double the conventional yield.

    Increased Productivity

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  • If you want tastier fruits and vegetables, buy heirloom seeds or heirloom plants. Heirloom plants tend to express traits that are not consitent with your typical phe-notype. This deviation in expression is caused from a particular strain being isolat-ed and bred year after year. Over these years, genetic mutation naturally occurs creating interesting colors and flavors. For example, Black Krim tomatoes. Black Krim is an heirloom tomato strain from Russia that produces very unique looking, large black fruit.

    Tomatoes also happen to be what most American may imagine when they hear the word heirloom - but the term heirloom is not exclusive to tomatoes. Take a look at these beautiful purple carrots, they taste great and look amazing. Stay away from GMO seeds and plants. Read up on it if you want to know more.

    Heirloom

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  • Transplanting1. Dig a hole. Make the planting hole as deep as the plant's container and about

    double the diameter.

    2. I find it easier to transplant when the soil is dry, so that it is easy to remove from the pot. Dont tear your roots or the stem, otherwise your plant will either die or not yield as much as it should. .

    3. Remove the plant from the pot. Place your hand on top of the pot, with your fin-gers around the plant's stem. Turn the pot upside down and gently squeeze it or push the plant out from the bottom with your other hand.

    4. Check to see if the plant was rootbound. If the roots have wrapped around and around the plant, gently pull a few loose with your fingers.

    5. Place it in the hole. Set the plant in the hole at the same depth it was in its pot, generally where the stem meets the roots. Tomatoes are an exception to this rule - plant them deeper and the roots will start to grow out of the stem!

    6. Replace soil and then water. Backfill the hole with the soil you removed. Water the newly added soil to help ensure that the roots have solid contact with the soil.

    Helpful Tip:Transplant on an overcast day to minimize stress placed

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  • This will prevent you from having to do more work redesigning and modi-fying your previously installed drip system to fit your newly planted gardens needs. Now onto what a drip system entails...

    A drip system is a super efficient way to water your plants; conserving wa-ter that would normally run past the roots with conventional sprinkler watering. Studies have shown that well designed drip systems use at least 30%, and in some cases 50%, less water than conventional methods of watering. Drip systems can also be set on a timer, minimizing the work that needs to be done by you. Before you set the timer and walk away for good, ensure that you are delivering the optimum amount of water to your plants: no more, no less. Monitor it for a couple of days and adjust accordingly, reroute if necessary.

    First things first:

    Always plant first, then install.

    Irrigation

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  • PestsStay away from synthetic pesticides and all of the chemicals that are used in

    them. You do not want your plants sucking up that mess because you will be eat-ing them at some point. Instead, try making one of these natural home remedies or pick up a few predator insects like the lady bug to the right.

    Garlic an