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A permaculture garden will give you more harvests for less work
Increased garden yields with reduced effort? Sounds too good to be true right?
The goal of a permaculture garden is to create yields with less work using nature’s design as our inspiration.
Backyard permaculture gardening sketch from Urban Forest
This post will discuss some of the following permaculture garden principles which will help you reduce the time and energy you put into growing your garden.
- Polyculture garden beds
- No Dig Gardening
- Creating diversity for pest control
- Growing perennials
- Food forests
I’ve also written more about permaculture in backyard permaculture design.
Polyculture Garden Beds
Polyculture gardening is great for reducing the need to spend all your time weeding your garden.
This is something I’ve discusses in depth in Permaculture Polyculture Gardening.
Polyculture garden beds copy nature by having a diverse array of crops all growing closely together. You time your sowing so that you can harvest fast growing crops, then fill in the space with a new seed or seedling before the weeds grow. The plants grow closely together so you don’t have exposed soil and weeds can’t germinate because of reduced light.
You use a lot of companion planting with polyculture beds to create mini plant guilds.
No Dig Gardening
We’ve made the mistake of painful hours digging out grass.
That’s a lot of work not really needed. You’ll rarely have fantastic soil under your grass so you’re better to build above the grass and use sheet mulching/lasagna gardening instead.
What is sheet mulching?
You lay cardboard over your grass and then add layers of compost, soil, decomposed manure, browns and greens etc to build up your soil.
Biodiversity for Pest Control
One beneficial aspect of permaculture gardening is to increase biodiversity. Why is this important? If you increase biodiversity you can increase the natural predators of your pests to reduce your yield loss.
Basically you’re letting nature do a lot of your pest control for you.
We’ve encouraged snakes in our garden to eat all the crickets and meadow voles that consume our crops.
By allowing them a place to live and be, the snakes have reduced our crop damage by 80%.
You can also grow certain plants that attract and increase the natural predators.
There is a great book called ‘Good Bug, Bad Bug’ to learn the difference of your garden bugs & I’ve discussed this more in ‘natural organic pest control’. Growing the ‘umbelliferous plants’ that have large frilly leaves like carrots, parsley, celery, dill etc help to attract more ladybugs to eat aphids.
Mulching your garden beds or rows helps to suppress weeds, reduce the need for watering and builds up your soil. In this post I compared wood chips, versus straw & hay.
Although growing a perennial garden can take 1-3 years to establish and start producing, growing perennials that come back every year reduces your planting work.
Great crops for a perennial garden are:
- Egyptian walking onions
- Sunchokes/Jerusalem artichokes
- Fruit bush & plants such as raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries
- Fruit trees such as apples, pears, cherries etc
Create food forests
One of my favourite permaculture design principles is creating food forests. Food forests are a guild of different plants of different height that all work together to create a working ecosystem that you get to harvest from. There are some fantastic permaculture books that go into details of creating food forests:
When we moved to our new acreage our goal was to create a couple food forests that the chickens could also be rotated in. I can’t wait to show you the process of how we convert our flat grass into thriving plant guilds & food forests!
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Urban Forest shows you food forest design
My name is Isis Loran, creator of the Family Food Garden. I’ve been gardening for over 10 years now and push the limits of our zone 5 climates. I love growing heirlooms & experimenting with hundreds of varieties, season extending, crunchy homesteading and permaculture.