So a lot of people I speak to don’t really know what permaculture is, or if they do they mostly think its just hippies. They aren’t exactly wrong, but here’s a little spiel to help you understand permaculture, what it entails and maybe ignite your inner permie.
Permaculture is really about living sustainably, especially in your own yard. It’s about being mindful of your actions as a gardener the whole way through to maximise your own health and the health of your plants. This encompasses composting and soil love, growing your own food, keeping animals to turn over soil, provide manure, consume waste products, being waterwise and reducing chemical use. It’s pretty bloody exciting to be honest.
I was lucky enough to spend international permaculture day at the Green Life Soil Company in Midland alongside some pretty ecstatic permies. I learned some really valuable information on growing micro greens, making microbial rich fertiliser, keeping chickens, composting… the list could go forever. Here are some of the most valuable points, I hope to explore these more over the coming months and hope you will come along for the ride.
1. Coco peat is a ridiculously cheap and ridiculously effective seed raising mix and can be used for micro greens. It is loose and stays moist but drains well so doesn’t water log your seedlings. I the case of microgreens, once used the pot of coco peat and roots can be fed to your chickens or put in your compost.
2. Micro greens are an awesome way to grow food small scale. They grow quickly, they are nutritious and don’t demand too much sunlight. Essentially you are eating young, immature seedlings, full of flavour and nutrients. Think broccoli, celery, chives, wheat grass. These would be a great addition to a small court yard or an apartment balcony, quickly harvested to add to a sandwich, salad or stir fry.
3. Every time I put mycorrhizal fungi in my soil I’ve killed it before it gets there. Town water supplies that are treated are too full of chemical for the fungi to survive. So now I know I need to stand water in a bucket for 24 hours before I use it to ensure chlorine evaporates. I’m not lucky enough to have rainwater…. but I’m working on that.
4. Regular commercial grown vegetables in most cases use a lot of water, a lot of salt, a lot of chemicals. They often contain only a handful of nutrients compared to what you grow in your yard.
5. All food from overseas is heavily treated with chemicals for hours at a time. I don’t honestly know as I haven’t read any medical journals or looked in to it further, but my gut is saying that isn’t going to be great for my insides.
6. The vegetable I’ve been missing out on is sweet potato because it’s ridiculously easy to grow and so much more delicious from your own yard. Can’t wait for spring!
7. Most permies are lucky enough to have a reasonable patch of land – enough room for veggies, chickens, hot compost, rain water. This is truly a luxury.
8. It is not a bad thing to sometimes buy organic grown vegetables, sometimes grow your own, and sometimes buy the regular, commercially grown, cheap produce. You need to find a realistic balance.
I also want to make a few things really clear. Farmers who are not registered as organic farmers are not always in every instance trying to feed you nutrient poor, cheaply grown food laced with chemicals. Getting an organic status is bloody hard – you can’t so much as use snail pellets. You need to have a huge buffer zone. You can’t contaminate the organic area with non organic products such as sharing fruit bins with another farm, or non organic livestock entering the organic area. So many farmers want to give you sensational produce and we shouldn’t dismiss this.
Also, you don’t need to have a large property to be a permie. You don’t have to do it all! Have a pot of edible greens, try non chemical pest controls, or set up a worm farm. At the end of the day it all contributes to the bigger picture – being a little bit more sustainable, and a little bit healthier.