Many hands make light work
This is part eight in my discussion of the 12 principles of permaculture.
The relationship between elements in a permaculture system are as important as the elements themselves. A permaculture design is a group of interacting, interrelated, interdependent elements acting together as the one unit. Without integration of the different elements we cannot create a permaculture system. So what I am aiming for is as system of elements that support each other. Good placement of elements is extremely important, and to do this I need to understand the needs and outputs of each element. Then I can place supporting elements around the initial element so it can gain the benefit of what is around it. Each element within the system should provide at least three functions. For example; the earthworm opens up the soil, provides worm castings to build up the soil and breaks down organic matter.
|A Cosmos seedling putting forth flower buds. The flowers will attract|
beneficial insects to the garden.
Elements are combined within the design so that the needs of one element are supplied by another element. For example Chris from Gully Grove gave me a great tip on planting casuarinas and blueberries in close proximity, as the litter from the casuarina is a great mulch for the blueberries, and if they are planted as neighbours or as a 'guild', then it saves me time carting mulch around. The outputs of one element, in this case the casuarina support the needs of another ( the blueberry bush). When there are many elements working together we can see the evidence of this principle, - the many hands making light work as it were - in action.
I apply mulch to plants to help retain soil moisture and which feeds the soil as it breaks down. The mulch also provides habitat for predatory insects as well as a food source from the decaying mulch. To attract and support additional predator insects I can also plant more nectar and pollen producing plants in particular plants in the daisy family – cosmos, aster and yarrow; the carrot family – cilantro, dill, fennel, parsley and wild carrot; plants in the mustard family – alyssum. Other plants that support predator insects are – sunflower, morning glory and elderberry.
|Another recently planted Cosmos seedling. The Cosmos seedlings are growing quite fast and this one also has flower buds on it. On the left of the seedling we have some bromeliads, which are a habitat plant for froglets.|
In the future we want to build a hen run on our property adjacent to the orchard so that the hens can free range during the day, eating pests and spreading manure. I want to grow fruit trees such as mulberries and fodder plants that are accessible to the chickens whilst they are in the hen yard. Thereby creating another self-supporting system.
Integration of house and garden can be achieved through thoughtful design. Deciduous trees can be planted to block hot summer sun but allow warming winter sun. Pergolas can allow residents to enjoy a cooler spot outside during summer and can be used to grow deciduous vines such as grapes so that the pergola is also inviting during winter. A trellis placed to the western side of a house can create a living green screen to help keep a house cooler.
|Two elderberry cuttings waiting to be planted out into the garden. Elderberry|
is another plant that supports predator insects.
These are just a few examples of how we can integrate elements rather than segregate them.