Monday, July 15, 2013


Permaculture is a word that I hadn't heard prior to just a few years ago even though it's been around for awhile.  It's very basic definition is...

the development of agricultural ecosystems intended to be sustainable and self-sufficient

I've been reading more about permaculture lately because I've been curious to see if this term is descriptive of what we're doing and the direction much of my recent interest seems to be headed.  As you may have noticed, I don't talk as much about growing specific vegetables, individual recipes or even preserving as much as I used to.

view across the back of our property (1.5 acres) with our neighbor's house in the background

Of course we're still growing vegetables (and fruits), making food and putting it up (and all those posts exist on this website, please look them up).  But since getting bees, I've become much more fascinated with how it all comes together.

(top to bottom, left to right) honey bee on clover, wild black raspberries, house roof rain water cistern/pump, butterfly on black raspberry bush, mulberry tree, blooming chestnut tree loaded with pollinators, day lilies, mulberries, young peaches, honey bee on butterfly bush, wineberry bushes, first crop of blueberries

How can we create an environment that is attractive to pollinators, birds, worms, ladybugs, etc?  What are the best ways to use and reuse water and other resources on our property?  What balance of wild to tamed works best for us?

Sadie's garden mound of vegetables and flowers in front of our large brush pile

our used-to-be-all-lawn side yard with sweet cherry and blueberry rows, wild grasses (the birds are loving the seed heads) and sunflower patch

As you may have noticed, it's never been important to us to have a manicured yard.  And, no, this isn't just what happens because we don't have the time or interest in manicuring it.  It comes from the desire to have a more natural-looking property and the desire to not be slaves to our land- there is more to life indeed.


We hope that our brush piles and brambles will encourage birds to come and stay.  We hope that the mulch will turn our garden soil into a lush home for worms and that beneficial insects and healthy plants will deter pests without much intervention on our part.

That flowering weeds, trees and bushes will provide nectar and pollen for our bees and butterflies. That wild raspberries and wineberries will continue to multiply, pushing their way into mowed paths if they like.

black raspberries and wine berries at the edge of the woods with bee hives in the background

The way God created His creation to live in harmony is breath-taking.  I have been relishing it and look forward to reading and learning more about what we can do to encourage it instead of fight it- whatever it might be called these days.

If you're interested in more of the specifics of Permaculture, Wikipedia provides this list as one version of it's twelve design principles:
  1. Observe and interact: By taking time to engage with nature we can design solutions that suit our particular situation.
  2. Catch and store energy: By developing systems that collect resources at peak abundance, we can use them in times of need.
  3. Obtain a yield: Ensure that you are getting truly useful rewards as part of the work that you are doing.
  4. Apply self-regulation and accept feedback: We need to discourage inappropriate activity to ensure that systems can continue to function well.
  5. Use and value renewable resources and services: Make the best use of nature's abundance to reduce our consumptive behavior and dependence on non-renewable resources.
  6. Produce no waste: By valuing and making use of all the resources that are available to us, nothing goes to waste.
  7. Design from patterns to details: By stepping back, we can observe patterns in nature and society. These can form the backbone of our designs, with the details filled in as we go.
  8. Integrate rather than segregate: By putting the right things in the right place, relationships develop between those things and they work together to support each other.
  9. Use small and slow solutions: Small and slow systems are easier to maintain than big ones, making better use of local resources and producing more sustainable outcomes.
  10. Use and value diversity: Diversity reduces vulnerability to a variety of threats and takes advantage of the unique nature of the environment in which it resides.
  11. Use edges and value the marginal: The interface between things is where the most interesting events take place. These are often the most valuable, diverse and productive elements in the system.
  12. Creatively use and respond to change: We can have a positive impact on inevitable change by carefully observing, and then intervening at the right time.
Sadie feeding kitchen scraps to the chickens
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  1. I couldn't agree with you more. I've been doing a little (okay - a lot) of reading as well. Numer 6 on that list seems to be the most difficult. Everything seems to come in plastic containers. We are growing quite a bit, but most of it's not ready yet. I use my totes for groceries & those mesh bags for washing delicates for buying produce, but plastic seems to be everywhere. Love the path pictures:)

  2. I love this post. It created a longing in me to get myself into a new situation to create such a space. Soon...

  3. Your garden is beautiful and what a timely post for me to read. Thank you. We are in the process of buying a home with a bit of land and I want to use the principles you wrote about. I do have a question that possibly you or someone else can do you know how many of each vegetable etc to plant? and what do you do if you find yourself with too much of a particular veggie?! I know that I will learn much by trial and error but I try to learn from the people who have done it before me as well.

    1. Hi, there! You, in part, answered your own question- it's all about trial and error:-). Other things to take into account- how many people are in your family and do you just want to eat your veggies fresh or do you want an excess to freeze and can? I tell everyone to start out SMALL and keep a gardening and preserving journal because even if you think you'll remember what you did the year before, there's a good chance you won't:-). If you plant too much your first year, you might quickly become overwhelmed and want to plant grass again. So, assess your needs, choose veggies that others in your zone can grow well, start slow and adjust each year as needed:-). Blessings to you as you make your new property home!

  4. Your post is very interesting. Thank you.


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