A landscape designed with Permaculture is one that is focused on producing an abundance of food for the inhabitants of the site (wildlife included) but also building soil and fertility without the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides or herbicide.
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The specific goals would vary based on the context of the site and the wishes of the client. And that’s where the design process begins.
Permaculture designers would start with a client interview before commencing any project. They would walk through the site with the client and talk about the goals of the project. They’d make observations about what’s already in place.
Observation and analysis are fundamental to Permaculture. Permaculture experts would gather as much information possible from the site.
Included in the analysis are soil tests which help to determine the soil’s composition, structure and pH levels. Understanding the soil is a key in determining which plants would grow and function well in a given environment.
Permaculture designers would gather information about the soil and local climate weather patterns to come up with a comprehensive list of plants which are suited to the site’s conditions.
Permaculture experts would group the plants together based on the ecological niche they occupy. The list is a great reference for clients as they shop for plants.
Only after gathering a significant amount of information can the Permaculture designer create the design drawings. It begins with the water flow. Capturing and storing rain water is essential in building a resilient food system.
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Q: How can I do Permaculture in a city garden?
A: Depending on your climate and rainfall, look for plants than can handle the climate. Although with a very thorough approach to permaculture you can capture whatever amount of rainfall you do get to water the plants. A well-planed ¼ acre lot, with mature trees, could produce hundreds of pounds of fruit per year. Check zoning laws.
Q: Is there any other item I could use that would be as effective as mulching hay?
A: Mulch hay is a lower grade baled product usually used for erosion control Straw is another green mulching option favoured by Permaculture experts. Like hay, it is a baled product that is grown as a crop for mulch.
Q: Are there plants that add acid to the soil naturally?
A: Soil that is acidic is actually great for potatoes, blueberries and hydrangea. However, most vegetables do better in soil that is more neutral. There are no plants that would actually decrease the soil’s pH level. Whatever organic matter decomposes, some acidity is produced but it’s nothing that would make even a temporary change in the soil. The blueberries won’t notice it. The best way to reduce pH for acid-loving plants is to add elemental sulfur. This is a slow process and needs to be checked at least once a year.
Q: Would permaculture soil be a way to control plant fungus?
A: A healthy soil life would be able to displace harmful bacteria. An improved soil structure due to added organic matter would allow the soil to hold greater amounts of water and air. All these factors would also contribute to the healthier root growth and overall plant vigor making the plants less susceptible to disease in general.