When my husband and I decided to grow our own food, we started looking into organic practices. Somehow, while searching, I stumbled upon permaculture. Now for people who don't know very much about this word or this practice I will try to explain as best as I can. The dictionary defines it as thus:
a system of cultivation intended to maintain permanent agriculture or horticulture by relying on renewable resources and a self-sustaining ecosystem.
So I suppose that is pretty self explanatory. However, those who follow this practice are many and quite varied. For instance, if you read some materials, permaculture has a standard of ethics that most people who wish to live this lifestyle adopt. They are earth care, people care, fair share. Now, it all seems simple enough, doesn't it? But you wouldn't believe the number of people who get caught up and argue over what that last ethic means. So if you go in search of more information on this topic, please be aware that those people exist, and don't let them ruin it for you please.
Then there are the 12 permaculture principles. They are all well and good to consider as you go, but I have found it hard to start from ground zero abiding by all of these principles. They are as follows:
- Observe and interact.
- Catch and store energy.
- Obtain a yield.
- Apply self regulation and accept feedback.
- Use and value renewable resources and services.
- Produce no waste.
- Design from patterns to details.
- Integrate rather than segregate.
- Use small and slow solutions.
- Use and value diversity.
- Use edges and value the marginal.
- Creatively use and respond to change.
Then my husband (^the beautiful man standing in the honeysuckle up there^) came across this amazing little podcast that was set up by a guy named Paul Wheaton. This man changed the whole game for me. Are you listening, folks? Thee. Whole. Game. Permaculture was no longer this strange, unique, beautiful, mysterious, possibly unattainable dreamy fantasy that I would never live up to. It was something I couldn't mess up! So when I was just starting to get discouraged, I got my second wind and have been sailing on that for these last 3 1/2 years, my friends.
Podcast after podcast I became more encouraged, more inspired, and my husband got really amped up about it too-which is lucky for me since he's most of the muscle ;) We have been applying these principles as we are able and things have been coming along quite nicely. We live on a lot of clay, but year after year it has become easier and easier to get that shovel further into the soil without resistance. I can't quite explain how it feels, the difference between having read that something will work, but then seeing it actually work.
Permies.com and Richsoil.com are this guy's two main set ups. The articles on his rich soil site are astounding! Things I would have never thought of, but they make perfect sense! My husband and I even tried the hugulkulture that we read about in one of the articles (see here- MY HUGUL!! ).
We've read a lot of feedback from people who have tried this method and it didn't work for them until it set for at least a year. However, we got our skinny little butts to work on one, and that summer we planted tomatoes (in partial shade I might add) and only ever watered it twice-once when we planted them, and once when it had been really hot for about a week. The truth is, we probably didn't even have to water them, but old habits die hard.
So guys and gals, if what I've said has you intrigued and you wish to do a little more research, I will list some suggested links below: