Monday, January 30, 2017

Learning New Things: Permaculture

G and I attended a lecture on Permaculture yesterday as part of the local Land Trust Winter Programs.  It was pretty intense.  A framework for the design and conception of sustainable agriculture.

The beginning point is easy enough for all of us.  To observe.  How nature works. And then do the same in your garden.

Just look at your plot of land.  Where does the sun shine.  Where does the rain puddle.  Is the land level or does it slope.  Does it slope lower in the south--better to gather sun and warmth?  Do deer travel across or into your land?  Squirrels.  Birds.  Do you make use of the leaves that fall to build soil.  Can you manage with less traditional lawn?

Then and on into the future:  Change what you can.  Build soil.  Plant trees for future generations.  Collect and store water.  Plant natives.  Plant food producing rather than ornamental trees and shrubs.

I now wish the 20 year old crab apple trees we planted as "landscape" had been apple trees.

I am happy to have two very large hills of wood chips to layer into the compost pile (more brown is better than more green) and wood chips over one year old to mulch my garden.  But I could be doing more to use the sunny areas for food production.  I could be trying harder to be providing more food for my household. Why not grow tomatoes in the front yard?

We have no nut bearing trees.  Only one plum tree.  But I do have three Beach Plums which are still too young to make fruit.  Six mature blueberry shrubs.  Raspberries.  One grape vine.  Two Juneberry shrubs.  A Blackberry thicket.  The instructor suggested native elderberry for the wetland on the west side of the property.  I like elderberry jam.  And I have two fig trees in pots.

I really do want an apple tree even though I am 70 and will probably not see a good apple harvest until I am 80.  But I don't want to be 80 and be sad that I never planted an apple tree.  Until then, I will look for abandoned apple trees and collect the apples.

The first change I am making is laughable.  I struggle to contain the Mint in the vegetable garden.  I learned (yesterday) to use the mint as a ground cover under my crabapple trees.  Let it do what it wants--creep and spread.  Guess what?  It will look amazing.  And I can go out and grab a handful for smoothies any time I want.

We live on 4 acres and most is wooded.  We could have pigs.  I don't think I want chickens even though they are allowed by the Town.  The pigs might not be allowed.  But pigs do an amazing job of cleaning out a wooded area.  And they are friendly.  They do go "walk about" though and need good fencing.  I can just imagine the excitement on my residential road if two pigs were out for a stroll. I could name them "Perma"  & "Culture".


Diane said...

I found this really enjoyable and informative. I have been on this path for a couple years, making changes as I can. I already have a list for things to adjust and change as this year's gardening begins. We have about 7 acres, mostly wooded. No pigs in my future, though. Thanks for today's blog.

MariMo said...

Very informative - we have an apple tree, didn't plant it ourselves though. Have a wonderful lemon tree in Morocco which we planted ourselves - it's a 4-season variety, so lemons all year. We love that tree. Dogs and cats today and in our future - definitely no pigs!