This beginner’s guide to permaculture is a quick introduction to a popular form of organic gardening. You’ve likely heard of permaculture, but do you know what it is exactly? It’s simply a style of gardening that lets nature do most of the work, and tallies very well with the modern craze of no-dig gardening, which avoids back-breaking digging, and just lets nature get on with it, after the initial work is done.
See plants & trees to avoid near pets (no cocoa/pine/rubber mulch or fresh compost near pets). Use humane safe slug/snail deterrents & no-dig garden methods. See safer alternatives to netting for wildlife, if used. Many plants (inc. yew & oak trees) are toxic to equines.
If you think that permaculture is all about hippy types dancing around their veggie patch with flowers in their hair, know that permaculture was responsible for transforming Detroit from urban food desert to a thriving city of farmers’ markets and community gardens. It can produce up to 10 times more food than one hectare of conventional farmland. Louis Bonduelle Foundation, says a conventional farm grows 12 rows of carrots – but a permaculture farm adds two more rows of leeks and peas!
You don’t have to list in a forest to practice permaculture. But it helps to know the 12 principles of this ecologically harmonious way of gardening. The word stands for ‘permanent agriculture’ which revolves around a manifesto first created by David Holmgren, all of which work together:
- Observe & Interact
- Catch & store energy
- Obtain a yield
- Apply self-regulation & accept feedback
- Use & value renewable resources & services
- Produce no waste
- Design from patterns to details
- Integrate, rather than segregate
- Use small & slow solutions
- Use & value diversity
- Use edges & value the marginal
- Creatively use & respond to change
Learn More on Permaculture
- The Vegetable Gardener’s Guide to Permaculture is a beautifully designed book that covers designing your permaculture garden to what to plant to how to leave it alone! The result is rich healthy soil that blends a functional food garden with decorative landscape. Grow your own food forest, no matter how small your space. By updating ancient techniques from around the world, Shein shows how to grow enough food to feed your own family, and share with friends. Transform your garden, and nurture the earth for years to come.
- Permaculture Association is the national website for more info. You can become a member to get a copy of their regular journal, find online courses and visit local permaculture projects.
- Permaculture Magazine offers a print or digital issue (take a free trial) by the world’s experts. The editor and co-founder has one of England’s most established forest gardens in Hampshire, and is the author of Fertile Edges,
- The Vegan Book of Permaculture is a nice little handbook for anyone wishing to take back some control from ad agencies and big food corporations. Includes a nice selection of recipes to be ‘well-fed with not an animal dead’. See foods to avoid near pets. This book is published by Spiralseed which has lots of good info.
- For more help, see the Garden category.
We only invented the word organic because we made things inorganic. We only invented the word natural because we made things unnatural. We only invented permaculture because we made agriculture. Khang Kijarro Nguyen
To me, there’s nothing better than a meal cooked with fresh vegetables directly from the garden, minutes before eating. Permaculture finds ways to repair even the poorest soils. Dirt is the basis of all good growing! Christopher Shein