In the first article related to Permaculture and how to get started with your sustainable, nature-based, and balanced garden, we covered the aspects related to its ideology and methodology.
We underlined the convenience of learning the basics to export it elsewhere in a bug-out situation successfully. In this second part, we will dig more into it by acquiring the further steps to make it happen.
The importance of vertical development
This topic is intrinsically connected to plant stratification. If we observe plants in nature, we will notice that they grow in a layered structure. The tallest trees form a canopy. On the opposite, shrubs and herbaceous plants cover the ground. Then we have climbing plants that grow vertically.
By replicating this structure, you can make the most of your available space. Additionally, you can increase the productivity of every single plot of land. This is called a “food forest.”
On Food Forest
“Nature holds the key to our aesthetic, intellectual, cognitive and even spiritual satisfaction.”
Also called forest garden, edible forests, and vegetable garden, the Food Forest can be seen as multipurpose and multifunctional cultivation.
Within that forest, wood trees, fruit plants, herbs, and vegetables live in total synergy with local plants and animals.
You can build your food forest in the corner of the garden or in extended, remote areas. You can even convert an existing woodland or orchard.
The structure of a food forest is straightforward. Fruit trees grow on the upper layer, while below, there are edible berry shrubs, perennials, and annuals.
By living in strict connection, they create the proper dimension to establish an ecosystem capable of achieving high food production with less maintenance.
A food forest can provide a great way to produce food using very little energy.
Quoting the educational words of Bill Mollison: “There is one, and only one, solution, and we have almost no time to try it. We must turn all our resources to repairing the natural world, and train all our young people to help. They want to; we need to give them this last chance to create forests, soils, clean waters, clean energies, secure communities, stable regions, and to know how to do it from hands-on experience.”
The ideal timeline
“While the farmer holds the title to the land, actually, it belongs to all the people because civilization itself rests upon the soil.”
– Thomas Jefferson
Nature favors the growth of plants to protect the soil, respecting a constant changing of lifecycles.
New plants can be planted in sequence with the old ones to have crops throughout the entire season.
By adding new plants when required, you’ll have no empty spaces in the garden.
The margin effect happens to be the most productive place. If you want to take advantage of it, you can always choose to create plots equipped with curved edges or going for smaller rectangular plots.
About the importance of microclimate
“Out of the long list of nature’s gifts to man, none is perhaps so utterly essential to human life as soil.”
Plants that grow together will develop differences in terms of
compared to the surrounding area.
By growing several plants together, you have several benefits:
- The plants protect each other from the elements.
- This ensures them a better and much more productive lifecycle.
- This guarantees the establishment of a more resilient garden.
Setting a vertical vegetable garden
By recreating the balances of nature, you need to take care of the setup for a vertical vegetable garden by planting, for example, vines and kiwis using pergolas, trellises, arches, fences, etc.
Other good plantations can be:
- green bean
- winter squash
- summer squash
Maximizing the productivity of your space is always the wise way to go since the more space you have available, the more you can plant. If this isn’t the case fr you, you need to learn how to optimize it without reducing soil and light requirements to other vegetables.
Setting a water garden
“People in cities may forget the soil for as long as a hundred years, but Mother Nature’s memory is long, and she will not let them forget indefinitely.”
Aquatic ecosystems are the most productive, and they contain multipurpose plants. They are often underrated, but they can cultivate edible aquatic plants (lotus, water chestnut, arrowhead, Vietnamese coriander, and many others). The presence of aquatic or amphibious fauna can help them to grow faster and healthier.
Additionally, ponds usually bring waterfowl, and you can have a particular small game you can resort to in order to supplement your survival diet.
Last but not least, a pond can also be used to collect water through a purification, underground system.
The best strategy to start your permaculture garden
“Man and man’s earth are unexhausted and undiscovered. Wake and listen! Verily, the earth shall yet be a source of recovery. Remain faithful to the earth, with the power of your virtue. Let your gift-giving love and your knowledge serve the meaning of the earth.”
– Friedrich Nietzsche
Planning, designing, and putting your commitment to creating your permaculture garden takes indeed energy and time.
For this reason, the best way to go is to layer it starting from a single area, then enlarging it as you seem fit. You will be amazed by the results you will achieve in even a few months.
Starting from the size
“We tend to be interested in something that is growing in the garden, not in the bare soil itself. But if you want to have a good harvest, the most important thing is to make the soil rich and cultivate it well.”
First of all, set a clear idea of your garden or food forest dimensions. Consider also its maintenance. You can involve your family members in your project by assigning them specific daily duties.
Also, consider that a fully developed food forest will need much less maintenance than a garden set inside an urban environment, which also requires protection from pollution (and possible thefts too).
Think about the following points:
– availability of water
– typology of soil
– space for the roots,
– the actual size of the plants
– tools you need to maintain it
– light exposure
– wind exposure
– proximity to your house and/or other buildings
– timeline of planting
– determination of pros and cons of the space you are working on
A forest food does not need to be watered, pruned, or fertilized! The plants will take care of themselves in a natural cycle.
“Soil mapping is one of the pillars to the challenge of sustainable development.”
By adopting a modular design, you will replicate the model as time goes by wherever you see fit.
In this way, you can extend your “pioneer” experimental portion to other parts of your garden. It is all about modularity, after all.
By setting priorities according to the size of the elements, you will place the large components in the project first and then develop the others around them.
For instance, while you are projecting a food forest, you must first consider that the trees must come first, and then the irrigation system must be installed. Subsequently, progressively smaller plants should be planted all around trees as well as around irrigation pipes.
The smaller elements such as plants covering the ground are planted last. This rational approach is pretty basic, but it will save you many headaches in the long run.
In fact, you cannot dig holes large enough to contain a tree in plots full of small plants and installing an irrigation system on a bed already planted. Projecting your garden happens to be one of the most burdensome and time-consuming practices if your desire is not overexploiting the resources you have.
“Each such cycle is a unique event; diet, choice, selection, season, weather, digestion, decomposition, and regeneration differ each time it happens. Thus, the number of such cycles, great and small, that decide the potential for diversity. We should feel ourselves privileged to be part of such eternal renewal. Just by living we have achieved immortality – as grass, grasshoppers, gulls, geese and other people. We are of the diversity we experience in every real sense.
If, as physical scientists assure us, we all contain a few molecules of Einstein, and if the atomic particles of our physical body reach to the outermost bounds of the universe, then we are all de facto components of all things. There is nowhere left for us to go if we are already everywhere, and this is, in truth, all we will ever have or need”
You will manage the work of building a vegetable garden from scratch by breaking it down into small manageable parts, one area at a time. In such a way, you will get a determined project to guide every effort.
Experience will do the rest!
Nothing strengthens the knowledge better of its practical application, especially in a perspective of achieving self-sufficiency and being able to replicate it elsewhere, not just on your property.
This article has been written by Kyt Lyn Walken for Prepper’s Will.
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