10 June 2009
Build diversity, choice and resilience into your systems â€“ have a plan b, c, d, and beyond. Create more than one way of getting something. Donâ€™t put all your eggs in one basket.
Example â€“ donâ€™t have just one water source. Store water in tanks, dams, swales and the soil. Reuse greywater.
Use and accelerate natureâ€™s own plant succession process to establish favourable sites and soils. Plan the evolution of the system from the start. Plan ahead and follow natureâ€™s lead.
Example â€“ plant quick growing plants as pioneers to create shade, improve soil and provide food while more long term plants are established.
Maximise the edge
Understand the unique environment of â€˜the edgeâ€™ â€“ no not the guy who plays guitar â€“ this is another edge. Think about the coastline â€“ the unique environment created where the ocean and land meet. Nothing like it anywhere else. Create edge for maximum effect.
Example â€“ increase yield by manipulating the shape of the edge and following natural patterns. A natural water hole doesnâ€™t have round edges, it varies and creates nooks for fish nurseries and for water plants to grow.
Energy efficiencies for house and settlement â€“ understand the â€˜wild energiesâ€™ and how they affect your property. Sun and shade patterns, bushfire threats, water running through your property, strong winds â€“ they all affect your property and you need to either mitigate their effect or enhance it to your benefit.
Example â€“ understand what direction bushfire threats could come from. Can you place a dam or fire retardant plants in that sector?
Avoid a monoculture and aim for a diverse polyculture in your design. Whether people, plants, animalsâ€¦ anything in fact. Celebrate diversity and encourage it. Aim for dynamic stability in your system.
Example â€“ a diverse food garden will provide you with food all year round. A diversity of insects in the garden will help balance pest control. Create a productive polyculture.
Everything in the design is placed in relation to another â€“ they all assist and support each other. Everything is beneficially connected.
Example â€“ plant medicinal herbs for the chooks near the chook pen. Have a compost bin near the back door to ensure kitchen scraps are regularly emptied. Build a big compost system in the fruit orchard so you donâ€™t have to move it far when its ready. Think â€˜smart placementâ€™
Create efficiencies in your design by placing the things you need to use everyday and the things that need your attention every day closest to your house. Plan out from the back door. Zone 1 is the most intensive, Zone 6 the least intensive. Zones reflect human energy efficiencies.
Example â€“ if you love a herbal tea every day, have your herbs by the backdoor. Cabinet timbers donâ€™t need to be checked very often, so they are much further from the house.
Everything must earn its place in the system and have more than one function â€“ preferably three.
Example â€“ Queensland Arrowrootâ€™s functions include; habitat, stock feed, human feed (the tuber), worm food, chook food, nutrient store (in its biomass), mulch, compost material and as a shade support plant in the food forest or orchard.
Use the slope of your land â€“ look at it in three dimensions and see where you can utilise slope as energy to move water and nutrients. Be aware of variances in soil, moisture, sun and shade caused by slope.
Example â€“ place the compost bin higher in the slope, so when it rains, nutrients are washed into a vegie bed below. Use plants at the base of the slope to collect nutrients and recycle them back into the system (see next principle)
Both human, nutrient and fossil fuel energy is recycled through the permaculture system. Produce no waste is the mantra. Close the loop and keep the energy cycling through the system. One systems waste becomes anotherâ€™s raw material.
Example â€“ kitchen scraps fed to chooks, chooks manure in their bedding, bedding added to the compost system, create soil, grows food, excess fed to chooks and so it goes. Donâ€™t let valuable nutrients leave your property (eg compost kitchen scraps, donâ€™t put them in the wheelie bin).
Follow natureâ€™s lead and value the biological resources that surround us. See the value in what is around you. Whether human, animal, plant, landscape or soil â€“ understand how it works and how to utilise its resources. Understand the limits to these resources too and try to ensure you do not overload them.
Example â€“ value the microbial workforce and donâ€™t spray chemicals. Use plants as shade and for cooling your home. Move away from unsustainable fossil fuel dependency.
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