Permaculture is not a specific technique, it is a combination of different techniques, products and even a philosophy on how to grow sustainably with human intervention in complete harmony with nature.
Permaculture allows for:
- Practising of environmentally-friendly techniques, garden health as well as one’s personal well-being.
- Limiting of external purchases through self-provision and local marketing for farmers.
- Optimisation of production, qualitatively and quantitatively, as well as perpetuating it to avoid "mortgaging" one’s land to the detriment of future generations.
- Realising of energy consumption savings by favouring renewable sources of energy.
These are the cornerstones of permaculture:
Live your garden
This entails having a holistic approach to your garden from inception, in harmony with the natural environment housing it. The characteristics of the soil, climate and micro-climates need to be taken into account, as does the lie of the land, adapting to these characteristics rather than trying to change them.
Think about creating a practical garden
It is also a matter of saving one's own strength by growing plants that require daily monitoring and care close to one's home, and on the other hand, cultivating crops that require little care at the bottom of one’s property.
Consider everything to be a resource
The creation of rich, varied, productive ecosystems favouring plant biodiversity and, consequently, animal biodiversity. This approach will encourage the arrival of the garden allies that are vital in controlling pests; it echoes, for example, agroforestry: the forest garden, or spirals of herbs amongst dry stones, a pool or a pond.
The cohabitation of domestic animals and crops in perfect harmony such as the installation of a henhouse in a greenhouse: heat released by the hens adds a few degrees in winter, vegetables not suitable for consumption are fed to them as additional food, their litter is composted and will be used to fertilise the soil.
Another example: a hen and her chicks can turn into a great weed killer for gravel walkways and driveways: just make a bottomless mobile cage that you move around every day: not a seed or seedling will be able to escape this little family’s appetite!
Create an attractive garden
Always remain cognisant of the quest for aesthetics and well-being - this is a vital aspect of permaculture. It is also important to enjoy working, relaxing and flourishing in garden spaces.
Even the shapes of the flowerbeds are not designed at random, they reflect the principle of a Mandala garden: a sacred circle with four openings representing the four cardinal points. This type of garden originates in India and it feeds into a journey of personal growth.
Never stop experimenting
You will need to discover and test out new techniques or, conversely, forgotten practices, such as growing in warm layers, or growing in “lasagne” beds (successive layers like a millefeuille).
Observation of natural environments offers insight into how they work, allowing you to learn about the interaction between living organisms, and the natural checks and balances naturally in play. Get inspired to find solutions that will keep pest populations below the nuisance threshold for crops, drawing on biomimicry.
As is quite clear, permaculture offers a multitude of facets with a common goal: the well-being of man, plants and the earth - for a long time to come!