What is permaculture?

Last year was my first adventure into a larger garden and I spent an enormous amount of time fighting different pests and babysitting each plant.

Throughout the winter, I noticed a trend in YouTube gardening videos that came with a buzzword: permaculture. It seemed that this permaculture idea had everyone excited and some of the healthiest plants I had seen. So I continued to do some research on the idea.

Managing a permaculture garden will not mean that you can be completely hands off your garden, but it appears that the garden will do a lot more of the work for you.

What is permaculture?

A Google search gave the following definition of permaculture: “the development of agricultural ecosystems intended to be sustainable and self-sufficient.”

Another way to explain permaculture is letting nature do its own thing with minimal human interference.

An example of a permaculture practice is growing the three sisters: beans, squash, and corn. Without any interference (other than a little weeding and possibly watering), these three plants work together to achieve the best growing conditions and yield they can. The corn provides a trellis for the beans and squash. The beans pull nitrogen from the air into the soil for all three plants. The squash leaves provide a mulch to keep the moisture from evaporating and to help prevent weeds from growing. And there are more benefits on top of these.

Another example of a permaculture benefit is pest management. Last year, we had a serious aphid problem on our tomatoes and peppers. We tried spraying them with water to remove the aphids, we also sprayed them with a water and neem oil mix. Both options worked but the aphids would just crawl back on the plants.

We had planted a single dill plant in the garden and once it grew to a good size, ladybugs moved in. The ladybugs made their home on the dill, started to reproduce, and used the aphids as their main food source.

Completely by accident, we had found a way to control the aphid problem. The answer was to let nature do the work for us!

If you want to see more examples of how a permaculture model works, check out the documentary The Biggest Little Farm on Netflix. This farm has built it’s entire operation on this ideology and it has proven itself to be very effective.

Permaculture is an idea that I am continuing to explore and working to figure ways that I can implement practices optimizing my garden results. If you have found tricks for your garden that allow nature to help optimize your yield, let me know in the comments!


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