Permaculture is a unique type of gardening involving the creation of self-sustaining miniature ecosystems that, once properly equipped, can thrive and flourish all by themselves. The concept is based on the idea of working in conjunction with nature rather than trying to substitute nature with a conventional garden, which typically requires more manual maintenance and produces less desirable results than permaculture gardens.
As such, permaculture is quickly becoming a popular trend amongst home gardeners that are looking to improve their gardening results by using methods that are more in tune with nature. In a permaculture system, every component relies on a symbiotic balance that allows the plants, animals, soils, and landscape to benefit each other in a myriad of ways.
Now that we’ve given a very basic introduction to permaculture, let’s take a look at four things you can do to start a permaculture-based ecosystem in your own backyard:
1. Get Some Chicken Coop Plans
Chickens can benefit a permaculture-based garden and the gardener in several ways. In addition to providing natural lean protein in the form of eggs and meat for the gardener, chickens also nourish the garden with nitrogen-rich droppings and through their scratching and foraging habits, which serve to fertilize, weed, and prepare soil as a nutrient-rich environment for plant growth. Furthermore, chicken guts and feathers can be thrown into a compost pile to increase the nutrient reserve for the next crop. Fortunately, chicken coop plans are easy to come by online, and you can learn more here if you’re interested in building your own.
2. Install a Fish Pond for Aquaponics
A fish pond makes a great addition to any permaculture garden for several reasons. First, fish excrement is high in trace minerals, protein, nitrogen, and other ingredients that can be highly beneficial to your soils and plants. In a practice known as aquaponics, water from the fish pond can be pumped into a reservoir on a timed basis, providing an ideal base for an organic gardening tea mixture. Furthermore, there are a number of aqua crops that can be planted in and around the fish pond, including Vietnamese mint, water chestnuts, lotus, and many others.
3. Start a Compost Pile
Another way to make your garden more self-sufficient is to start composting your unwanted food scraps and gardening byproducts in a compost pile. However, keep in mind that composting can be more complicated than simply throwing trash into a pile and letting it sit. Still, anyone with the time and willingness to research the basics of composting should be able to get their own compost started with minimal effort and expenditure, and believe it or not, compost piles don’t really stink as bad as you might think they would.
4. Plant in Separate Garden Beds
Finally, a great way to keep your garden functioning optimally is to separate plants into raised rectangular beds. You can also use worms and cover crops to naturally till and break up the soil within the beds, and to provide extra nutrients via the worm castings and the nitrogen-rich leaves that will shed from the cover corps and fall into the soil in due time. Planting in separate beds lets you focus on optimizing each individual bed for a different type of plant, while also letting you simulate the “edge effect” seen in nature, in which plants towards the edge of an ecosystem show more vigorous growth than the plants towards the interior.
Much like the foraging chickens that would scratch the surface of your garden to condition the soil, the above recommendations are only scratching the surface as far as what is possible with permaculture. If the idea of having a self-sustaining, nature-inspired garden is something that interests you, we strongly recommend you delve deeper into the world of permaculture, starting right in your own backyard.