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Currently Browsing: Permaculture Farming

Using Predators To Protect Your Garden From Pests

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It is no secret that monocultures provide a good base for pests to advance from minor nuisance to full blown disasters. As a result chemical insecticides have become increasingly popular to a point where some farmers see them as a basic necessity. But that doesn’t have to be the case. Farmers can learn from balanced ecosystems like forests where pests are kept down by natural predators. Permaculture relies on the principles of a resilient and balanced ecosystem to protect crops from pests.

As the saying goes, the enemy of my enemy is my friend; there are great benefits to be reaped if you find out what can be done to attract natural predators of the very pests that are plaguing your crops. The main problem with using chemical insecticides is that they often result in the death of both pests and their predators. Using them is only a temporary solution though.

For instance, if you use slug pellets, they will kill slugs and hedgehogs. But since slugs have a shorter lifecycle compared to hedgehogs, they will be back soon and they will thrive in your garden because you killed the only thing that could threaten their existence. Using hedgehogs to your benefit, on the other hand, has long term benefits. In addition to slugs, hedgehogs also feed on snails and other insects. Encouraging hedgehogs will require you to use a wooden box that will serve as the shelter with an opening of no more than 13cm. Bury it at a strategic location in your permaculture garden and cover it with twigs and soil, and don’t treat the box.

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Codling and leek moths can be effectively controlled with bats. These birds are attracted to gardens with night-scented flowers, hedges and water features. Use a bat box to encourage them and place the box in a high, sheltered and sunny spot.

Newts, toads and frogs feed on slugs and while you may require a water feature to attract them, a stick pile or a small rock is all you need sometimes, especially in humid areas.

ddog107_1cc.jpg.rend.hgtvcom.1280.960Insectary plants, otherwise known as welcome mat plants, are a great way to attract beneficial insects to your garden. Insects like lacewings, hoverflies and ladybirds feed on pests like aphids and red spider mites. Good examples of welcome mats include parsley, fennel, dill and angelica. It’s important to ensure that beneficial insects have access to nectar throughout the year and this requires that you use insectary plants that flower at different times of the year. To find out more about you can control pests naturally and promote plant growth in your garden, enroll at Open Permaculture School and also visit Regenerative Leadership Institute site.

Permaculture Guild: A Primer

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Permaculture is a term derived from the words permanent and agriculture. And since there is no other permanent form of agriculture other than nature, mimicking its networking and sustainability to build our own agricultural society is what permaculture is based upon.

Guilding is one of the most impressive gardening aspects of permaculture. Plants grow in small and reoccurring groups known as guilds in nature.  Each guild is known to have seven layers each of which are designed in a way that uses one aspect of either the root strata or the sun. Every element of a guild makes a unique contribution. For instance, the shrub layer provide food for birds that feed on insects or use low trees as a habitat while tall trees provide shelter for small animals. Additionally, root plants seek out nutrients made available to the soil by decomposing foliage and plants found in the herb layer fix nitrogen. Mulch plants increase biomass that helps with regeneration of the soil, while neighboring plants act as protection for the entire guild.

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Permaculture gardening takes advantage of nature’s biodiversity and resource management by using the knowledge to modify nature into sustainable agriculture. It is however unfortunate that we have  chosen to do so in a way that only favors monoculture forgetting that Gaia can produce much more biomass on her own without any inputs on the same acre. The trick here is to ensure that we merge plants that produce usable products from humans with Gaia’s self-sufficiency and productivity. And what better way to achieve that than guilding?

checklist-smallIn most cases, the tall tree layer is forgone in urban areas. However, if you aren’t forgoing this layer, good trees to plant would include Black Locust (nitrogen fixer), Chestnut (protein), Sugar Maple (syrup), or a Standard Pear (fruit). The low tree layer is where most of the guild design is focused and great choices for this layer include cherries, paw-paws, and pears. Plums and apples are also great for pest management. When it comes to the root, herb and shrub layers, there is a wide variety of plants you can choose from. You just have to make sure that each layer has 5 things including protection from pests and competition, pollination, mulch, nutrients and nitrogen.

The main advantage of guilds include less water requirement due to minimal evaporation, minimal pest control as they attract pest predators, and little or no fertilizer as they produce this on their own. For more on permaculture guilds, enroll at Open Permaculture School or Regenerative Leadership Institute.

Basic facts about permaculture

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Permaculture

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Permaculture is such a complex term and for most people it is hard to comprehend all the areas that are covered with this elaborate system, since it is found in agriculture, construction and ecological building, and even technology, education and economics. However, it can be said that permaculture is a system of design principles that are focused on replicating or mimicking patterns and features found in nature, in order to protect the planet and have a self-sustainable ecosystem.

The actual term permaculture was coined in 1978 in Australia, when a college professor (Bill Mollison) with his graduate student (David Holmgren) created the elaborate system of ideas and principles, and published a book named Permaculture One. This is considered as the founding moment of the new system, although organic farming and eco-movements existed for a long time (even from the start of 1900s). Permaculture was heavily influenced by works of some of those pioneers of natural farming and sustainable living, including Masanobu Fukuoka, P.A. Yeomans, Rudolf Steiner, Lady Eve Balfour and others.

beautiful-green-environmentImagined as a form of beliefs and set of codes, permaculture is focused on achieving the maximum level on connectivity and coherence between humans and landscape, creating sustainable, environmentally sane areas through mutual activity and interrelationship of people, plants and animals. This is divided into three main ethical rules, or tenets:

  • Care for the Earth: taking care of all system on the planets is essential for our survival also, since without a healthy “home” we cannot flourish either.
  • Care for the people: providing people with resources is detrimental for their active and prosperous life, and therefore humans have to cooperate in order to have the best possible results.
  • FairShare: or return of the surplus, is the idea that resources can only be saved if we use exactly how much we need, and never more than that.

Permaculture farming is based on those ideas, but its overall message is focused on coherence of elements and the resulting synergy, and never on factors being isolated or working on their own. This may sound as the mantra from the Borg community, but things are not so intense and in this system everyone is encouraged to preserve his or her personality, even though it looks like the “resistance is futile” and that we all need to be together on this one. Saving our planet means saving ourselves, and only if the sum of its parts are together can the whole become even stronger.


Permaculture In 3 Minutes – Regenerative Leadership Institute from RegenerativeLeadership Institute on Vimeo.

There are various projects around the world that support the principles and ideas of permaculture, but one of the most popular nowadays is the “Regenerative Leadership Institute”, whose founder and CEO – Vladislav Davidzon, created a design school with slightly revolutionized approach to permaculture courses. He introduced pragmatism and total immersion in nature, and this Institute nowadays provides free online program for all interested clients. Combination of technology and eco-activism is something that future is demanding from us, and sooner we wake up and start doing something for ourselves and the nature, can we expect better days for our children.

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