Sunday, November 13, 2011

Permaculture Design Tools

From Pattern to Detail

We design from pattern to detail. In other words make general plans, sketch and re-sketch, find the optimal balance of space for your needs and fill in the nitty-gritty details later. If you know where your herb spiral will be, then move on, no need to know where each herb will go right away. We can learn much from nature, seek out patterns in the natural world and imitate them in your design process.

Value the Marginal - Edges!

Throughout the universe, marginal areas are often the most productive places by any means of measure. Think of a shoreline or where a forest meets and open plain. In these regions there is a disproportionate amount of productivity that supports both human and animal needs. As we design in permaculture the marginal value is a by-product of juxtaposition in your plant/system placements. For example, a pond in your garden should have as much edge as possible so that it can interact more with the systems around it.

Permaculture Zoning

  • Zone 0 - Although this zone is not outside, nor is it a garden, it is essential to the overall design. Zone 0 is your home, the heart of your living space. The key permaculture principles that we can put to use here are in energy and water conservation. Indoor plants are also part of your permaculture system and help to clean the air inside your home. Snake and Spider plants especially are amazing for this reason - and you can propagate them easily!! (I will talk about plant propagation in my next posting)
  • Zone 1 - Physically the zones are in order distance-wise from your kitchen door. This zone is the closest to your kitchen and should include the plants you use most and the plants that need the most attention/care. An herb spiral, soft seasonal fruits and berries, and salad greens are good examples of things you might like to have closer to your door.
  • Zone 2 - is designated for perennials that require less attention, but still may need occasional weeding or other maintenance. Also plants/trees/bushes that need occasional pruning might go here such as currents! Note of interest: most bee keepers tend to put their hives in Zone 2!
  • Zone 3 - your 'bread and butter'. Zone 3 is very important because this is where your main crops will grow. Main crops are those that sustain you throughout the year. Hardy greens such as Kale, squashes, beans, corn, etc may all go here.
  • Zone 4 - Further away than zone 3 and requires no maintenance whatsoever. This is a semi-wild area where you might grow raspberries, st. john's wort, edible ground covers such as trailing thyme, feverfew, etc.
  • Zone 5 - is completely untouched. We allow nature the space to breath and live. This does provide utility however. Remember observe and interact? Well this is the observable portion of your zoning. We get our inspiration from natural systems. Honor zone 5 and do not disturb it's cultivation.

1 comment:

  1. I was a little confused on whether or not each property would have all five zones or whether a property would be using one or two of these concepts? There are some things in zone five that I think could be "touched" a little in order to gain the most out of the site. For instance, around my family's property we had a large blackberry bush that was too difficult to get to the berries. So I took the painstaking time and effort to unwind all of the vines and put them through a large trellis. Now the "nature" part of the garden has a new benefit or us and looks great! Thanks for the info!!!