Monday, March 9, 2009
In the last three posts, we saw that the major goal of permaculture (as well as natural farming and other sustainable land use practices) is to create a highly efficient and productive ecosystem by utilizing sunlight, land, and rainfall* to the maximum extent possible. The techniques of permaculture, like swales-and-ponds, mulching, or creating a 'layered' food forest, are derived from a few underlying themes.
Once we understand these themes, it is easy to design own low input highly productive systems, even in small urban spaces:
Designing the system with beneficially interdependent components is a major themes underlying permaculture design. This applies not only to interdependence between biological components (plant guilds, plants and bees, or plants and birds), but also to biological and nonbiological components. For example, plants grown on swales reduce erosion of the swale and in return get a dependable source of water.
The other important interdependence, of course, is between the human and natural components of the land. This includes using the waste products of human activities as feed/mulch/compost/manure for the the natural systems, and in return getting a better harvest from the plants and animals.
It is also important to reduce harmful relationships in the ecosystem. This includes increasing the distance between plants that may hurt each other chemically or physically, situating non-biological and biological components to minimize harmful effects of temperature and humidity, etc.
* I should mention maximum utilization of air too! Apart from water, practically all the biomass on the land is the carbon and nitrogen captured from air.