26 Jul 10 WAYS TO START A PERMACULTURE GARDEN IN A SMALL SPACE.
When you think about Permaculture do you think of an home on acerage with vegetables gardens, fruit trees, animals,water tanks and dams? I know I did. But I had a dilemma; I didn’t live on acerage, in fact, I didn’t even live on a standard house block. I lived in a unit block (one of eight units) with shared common ground in a beach side suburb.
I did have a couple of things in my favour in that I had a verandah, albeit small, and it faced east so it got the
morning sun. I also live in the sub tropics where the temperature was humid and hot in Summer and dry and cold in Winter (doesn’t get below 7 degrees Celsius at night mostly with daytime temperatures ranging from 15 to mid 20’s). This is what I had to work with and I felt confident that I could take some of the permaculture principles into consideration when creating an edible living environment in my small and limited space.
So are you wondering what Permaculture is? I know I did up until completing a Permaculture Design Certificate a couple of weeks ago which involved 72 hours of study delivered over 12 days at The Noosa Forest Retreat on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. There I learned all about Permaculture and how to apply the principles to any landscape and environment to ultimately yield food and create a self sustainable environment that will ‘in time’ look after itself.
Permaculture is a design system for creating sustainable human environments. The word ‘permaculture’ comes from the words ‘permanent and agriculture’ as well as ‘permanent and culture’. It’s about designing households and communities that are productive, sustaining and mostly self-reliant and that have minimal impact on the environment. Permaculture aims to work with nature and not against it and to use what is already in the environment (plants, animals, buildings and natural resources like water and solar)to create an improved relationship between these elements based on their placement within the environment.
There are 3 ethics that are always taken into account when putting together a permaculture design and they are:
1. Care of the Earth – provisions for all life systems to continue.
2. Care for the People – where people can access these resources necessary for their existence.
3. Fair Share – only take what you need and distribute the surplus back to the first two groups above.
This may seem quite involved, but once you get to better understand your own environment and how to work with nature to achieve the best possible outcome with minimal impact on the environment, you are using permaculture and you can apply this to any situation, no matter how small. If we focus on the simple, practical things I believe we can all live a more sustainable existence, so I didn’t want my limited space to limit my possibilities or the potential to live this way. So this is what I did:
1. Composting – to improve my soil quality by harvesting food waste and green waste.
2. Harvesting water – saving shower water and using grey water on the plants.
3. Choosing plants that are suitable to my environment – In my case, sub tropical, morning sun only,
plants to be grown in pots.
4. Growing micro greens – Sprouting on my window sill. Full of nutrients.
5. Knowing the direction of wind to better protect my plants.
6. Having a small greenhouse to germinate seedlings and protect some food from pests.
7. Be creative – Use what you have and recycle what you have or find. Plants can be grown in tins, wooden pellets or anything that holds soil and water.
8. Educate – Teach occupants/neighbours/community about composting (food waste/create soil) and how/what to contribute.
9. To create food forests (that yield food) – Within the common grounds and eventually move the gardens onto the verge to use as we need and share with the street residents.
10.To be patient – Enjoy the process and fruits (pun intended!!) of my/our labour and be proud of what’s been achieved.
It’s important to have plans that are in stages and to educate the building’s occupants, as well as our neighbours and community, that living in a small space doesn’t have to be restrictive, limiting or even isolating. In fact, the growing and sharing of food is not only as a source of energy and health, but can be a source of longevity and happiness that brings communities together by sharing these common goals.
So starting small with the bigger picture to work towards, is important in establishing the health and well being of our communities and now having gained my Certification as an Permaculture Design Consultant, I’m in an unique position where I can help others wanting to achieve the same. So for those of you who want to get started but just don’t know where or how to begin, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment or question below for me to answer. Growing my own food and living as resourcefully as possible is important to me and I want to help you do the same.
Yours in health and happiness,