Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Use and Value Diversity

"Don't put all your eggs in one basket."

One of the most straightforward ways of demonstrating the principle of using and valuing diversity in a property design is by incorporating a wide range of plants into the design. Diversity acts as an insurance measure.  If one crop fails due to say an explosion of pests, then a later ripening variety may still have the chance for harvest. 

Such diversity also builds soil fertility in a number of ways:

  • A healthy, diverse range of plants helps sequester carbon in the soil.
  • Plants release exudates through their roots. Exudates are secretions which attract microbes. (Incredibly there are more organisms living in a teaspoon of healthy soil the there are people on the earth.) In turn these organisms make nutrients available to plants.
  • Species diversity increases the organic in the soil which increases the soils water holding capacity which in turn attracts more macro-organisms.

A beetle grub. 

However introducing diversity into your own garden eco-system requires some careful planning and consideration, for example, what are the root structures – taproots, heart roots and flat roots take nutrients at different levels in the soil; some plants attract certain microbiota and others repel, so it is not just a matter of planting a few plants together.

   Taking this principle out of the garden and into the community we see people have a wide range of skills that can be utilised and passed on to others for the benefit of the whole community, aged people may be able to pass on knitting skills, and people of other cultural backgrounds may be able to demonstrate ways of producing more from less, which are common to their culture but not in familiar use in Australia.

In today’s working world it is important to keep gaining skills in order to provide opportunities but also to provide some insurance against unemployment. Having more than one income stream is another useful way of “not putting all your eggs in one basket.”

Systems diversity is also a form of insurance, local energy production can protect a community against power grid failure, alternatively household solar energy can provide an additional source of electricity.

Some ways I have incorporated the principle into my permaculture design are:

By including in my orchard a variety of apple trees so I can have a longer fruiting season.

Companion planting.

I have more than one water harvesting system. Tanks, swales and a dam. In future I would like to investigate the possibilities of including another dam, more swales, and a bore.


  1. Very good thoughts on diversity! We also use crop rotation to keep the soil healthy. Even on a small scale garden it's important to switch plots from year to year.

    1. Keeping the soil healthy is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves because healthy soil provides the most phytonutrients possible in our food.

  2. An interesting post, Sherri. I really need to learn more about permaculture. You have learned so much from all your study.

    1. I did Chel, and I am still learning as I go along. So many pieces of the puzzle to fit together.

  3. Hedging your bets... a good all round principle!

    1. Hedging our bets is a way of keeping ourselves more secure in these uncertain times.