psytek
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Start a permaculture garden

Hi

I'm new to the Permaculture world but it does fascinate me a lot! I understood the principle to recreate the condition of the natural environment. I saw some of the beds with cardboard, compost , newspaper and straw ( I don't remember the exact order) , but I was wondering how to start a little garden in my backyard. It is possible? what if I don't find straw? Any starter guide online?

thanks in advance
Roby

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rainbowgardener
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I don't think permaculture is so much an exact recipe for what layers you need to have. It's really a philosophy about sustainable ("permanent") agriculture, a style of gardening that doesn't depend on constant input from the outside, especially input of chemicals/ synthetics.

Here's an article about it:

https://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/perma.html

I would suggest the beginning place as well as doing some reading would be starting your compost pile. Part of the idea of sustainable gardening is everything is recycled and the "waste" becomes new inputs, which is COMPOST.

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gixxerific
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Very good link RG.

It's a pretty tall order to start from nothing and go to a "permaculture garden". Do you want an organic garden, flower beds, native grasses, trees, flowers? Are you going to raise animals, collect rainwater?

What is your main objective? Though I'm no expert by any means someone like rainbowgardener might need a little push to help you better.

psytek
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Hi guys

thanks for the reply! I just would like to grow veg and herbs to use in my kitchen, I love the idea of the permaculture where everything is linked but I have zero experience with gardening nor permaculture. I do agree thou that the first step is actually the compost but I would like to know if I can do something more during the year the compost will take to be ready :)

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rainbowgardener
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permaculture gardening

To start with it doesn't take a year for compost unless you are doing a ton of woody stuff. You didn't say where in the world you are gardening (we do have members of this forum literally around the world, from Massachusetts to Australia and Singapore), but if you are in the northern half of the world and getting ready for winter, then if you start a compost pile now, you will definitely have compost for spring planting.

But re what else you could be doing now, if you are getting ready for winter, I was serious that a lot of it would be reading and planning. Part of what makes permaculture different from just organic gardening (though it subsumes organic gardening) is the emphasis on efficient use of space. One design that is typical of permaculture is the keyhole garden, designed to make a lot of plants easily accessible. Applestar posted an example of hers with pictures here: https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=63042&highlight=keyhole+garden#63042
Planning is essential to this kind of efficiency, you need to know a lot about what kind of plants grow well in your area, what things grow well together, if you put in a trellis (permaculturists do a lot of vertical gardening for efficient use of space), what things would grow well under it, etc etc

Permaculturists put big emphasis on diversity, on including fruits, trees, especially nut trees, on making colonies of plants and animals that work together. And like all the rest of us organic gardeners, big emphasis on building up the soil and making living soil biologies that naturally enhance plant productivity. That's where your layers come in. Type in sheet mulching under the Search The Forum and you can find out more about that and what you could use instead of straw.

Permaculture gardening is usually done in raised beds for maximum efficiency and productivity. This merges into Square Foot Gardening, which you can also read about in this forum and elsewhere. If you don't already have them, building your raised beds would be something to work on now. They don't have to have frames around them and key hole gardens don't, but if you build regular rectangular beds in frames, you can dig out the topsoil from the paths between them to help fill the beds.

Here's another brief article about permaculture gardening, but if you are serious about it, I'd look around in your area for a course... there is a lot to learn (then come back here and teach the rest of us! :)
https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/organic/the-essence-of-permaculture-gardening.htm

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!potatoes!
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rg touched on it, but a big part of permaculture is using (somewhat) permanent crops...food or other useful stuff that comes from perennials, bushes, brambles, and trees...part of the idea being to move towards less input at 'planting' time, with many small outputs all year long (as opposed to a rush to harvest in late summer/fall)...

my recommendation would be (if you can't take a course) to get a good book and start getting your head around the actual principles of permaculture. using sheet-mulch would be a good first step, but it alone wouldn't make your space a 'permaculture garden'...design and planning are very important to minimize the amount of work you need to do, to get the right plants working together appropriately, to use the resources you have most efficiently.

not trying to scare you off! your interest is the all-important first step, but books + more direct guidance will help alot. the magazine 'permaculture activist' has a couple pages full of books to check out (on their website, too!). gaia's garden by hemenway, ross mars' 'basic of permaculture design', or maybe the ol' classic, 'introduction to permaculture' by mollison (or his 'designer's manual'), could be good places to start....still personally saving up for the 'bible' of this stuff, jacke's 'edible forest gardening' two-volume textbooks.

psytek
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Hi guys!

thanks for the replies first of all :) yeah I'm reading constantly about permaculture thanks to google books and my boring desk job.
In the feature I will dedicate my whole time to permaculture but for my garden I actually need to say that yep I considered the idea to start the compost and I loved the compost made with chicken wire newspapers directly on the beds. About the beds, because my garden is actually a backyard all concrete floor, how thick the beds should be?

cheers
Roby

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rainbowgardener
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I have raised beds sitting on a concrete patio. I made mine 20" tall. I don't know that they would have to be that deep, but it works real well for me. I plant tomatoes or anything I want in them and they are a convenient height for sitting on too :) .

Mine are stacked 4X4 fence posts. It's a very cheap material to use and easy to do. I got a very long drill bit and just drilled holes straight down through the stack and pounded rebar in. They are very solid, even now 8 years later. I sealed all the wood and then put a few inches of gravel in the bottom for drainage. Then had a truckload of good topsoil brought in to which I added compost and other organic materials.

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applestar
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How much area are you starting with? (I ask because in this forum, there's a HUGE variation in people's idea of a backyard garden) :wink:

If you'll only have the concrete bottom raised bed, planting guild recommendation will be different than if you have areas to plant fruit and nut trees, for example. With just the raised beds, I think berries would be a good alternative for fruits, and peanuts and other legumes for vegetable protein (as well as N fixers).

There are tons of resources. I garden based on what seems to me to be the best parts of Permaculture, Edible Landscaping/Forest, Native Plants Gardening, Plant Communities (for Guild ideas), Butterflies and Wildlife Gardening, Companion Planting, Square Food Gardening, and Jeevon's intensive gardening (I actually don't double-dig, however -- No-till Gardening for me :wink: ). I'm also starting to incorporate in Elliot Coleman's Four Season Gardening.

All my beds are started by sheet mulching. When I plant trees, I dig a big (as in wide) hole, but the surrounding (lawn) area are covered with cardboard and mulched over. Then I try to plant a guild around each and integrate adjoining guilds.

"what if I don't find straw?" -- I have an area that was getting taken over by Barnyard and possibly Johnson Grass. Very heavy thick tall (knee high to 2') grass that runners and spreads. I was at my wits end trying to get rid of it, then it occurred to me -- why get rid of it? It's growing along the NE foundation of the house where nothing much else grows except Ostrich Fern. I've segregated the Ostrich Fern area and the Grass area, so the fern doesn't get overwhelmed (I love the Ostrich Fern fiddleheads in spring!), and I just let the grass grow and cut them with my Japanese hand sickle several times during the growing season. It makes great mulch and compost ingredient. Because I keep cutting it, it's not spreading as aggressively as before, and I keep digging out the perimeter runners after a good soaking rain.

Another option would be to grow some grain -- I grew rice this year (only small patches, just as an experiment and just for fun). I'll have the rice straw to use according to Masanobu Fukuoka's One Straw Revolution. Even if you don't grow them for grain, you could still grow any of the grain crops as cover crop and use the straw.

As with any aspect of gardening it's a learning experience with some frustrating failures, but it's a lot of fun as well. 8)

paul wheaton
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There are lots of famous examples of permaculture on a very small scale. There is even a video of Mollison on an apartment deck with a bunch of potted plants. And Sepp Holzer has his stuff with "soil sausages" that can be hung on apartment decks.

If you have a patch of yard, then you can do far more: polyculture is the key.

Joyfirst
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I am wondering too. I just read one straw revolution, but I didn't find much information as far as veggie garden goes. Right now gardening in 25 by 8 foot community garden plot is all I have. One thing I got - I could use living mulch of white clover instead of brought in straw that I use now. My plot is not sustainable in a sense that even though I make a bit of compost, I still bring in more, and I also bring in straw and rabbit and guinee pig manure.
Okey, I could install soaker irrigation. More ideas?

ronbre
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the problem with a community garden is the lack of permanence, unless you have actually got year to year establishment of the same plot guaranteed and they'll let you put permanent plants in it.

generally community gardens are more for just vegetables...unless I'm wrong there.

you might be able to sink pots of your permanent plants into the ground so that they could be moved should you be moved to a different plot or you no longer garden there...but the ideal situation would be for you to be able to have permanent plantings in layers of canopy, understory, perennial layer, herbs and vines and groundcovers.

but you do with what you have to do with.

you might want to read Gaia's Garden by Toby Hemenway, there is a really good chapter in there on urban gardens
Brenda

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https://restfultrailsfoodforestgarden.blogspot.com/

Joyfirst
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Thank you, Brenda. Yes, I guess not much permaculture can be done in community plot. We can have our plot as long as we don't move from our city-so that is good, but so far I am waiting in line for bigger plot, so i might move in a year or two into other one.

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rainbowgardener
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because? why do you say it was no use?

You have to adapt the philosophy to your circumstances, but I think the general ideas of polyculture, sustainable, natural gardening are pretty adaptable, even as someone suggested above to container gardening.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

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shadylane
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Permaculture sounds very interesting, seems to be more in tune of my thoughts and style in gardening. I'll be looking into it with an open mind and study.

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