Thursday, December 2, 2010

Making Permaculture Better

A well pruned peach tree that will provide lots
of good sweet fruit. It is trimmed low enough
that my elderly client will have little problem 
harvesting it.
Many people jump into permaculture head first when they finally find it. This is not a bad thing, if they realize that permaculture is primarily a design art and that much of its effectiveness is based on experience and observation.

A good example of this is a friend of mine last summer. She put a couple of dozen apple shoots in water. When they seemed to be healthy, she proceeded to plant them, only then to reap disappointment when they all died.

Observation of a bouquet of flowers with lots of greenery might have given a hint at how difficult it can be to start a plant from a cutting. A quick chat with an experienced gardener might have have given her some tips for a better outcome. A well worded internet search also would have given her some things to think about.

A reasonable knowledge of practical gardening wisdom would have been enough to lead her to a highly successful apple propagating experience. This knowledge can be gained a number of ways, and I will cover that in later posts.

Here are three key areas permaculturists will find especially helpful:

Plant Propagation 
Most of us get how to grow a plant from seed, a few have successfully save seed, a couple are willing to pollinate flowers by hand, but who knows how to graft a favorite apple tree? What about getting a cutting from a peach tree to send out roots? By expanding our knowledge of creating new plants we create better opportunities for quality food.

Soil Science 
Of all the permaculture and home gardening books I have read, only one does justice to the soils of my home state. And that book is dedicated to flowers. With the complexity of soils extending from pH to soil structure to water infiltration to nutrient availability, no permaculturist can afford to have a less that professional scientific knowledge of the soils they rely on.

I know Fukuoka preached in favor of no pruning on his citrus, but not pruning doesn't work well on peaches and many other temperate fruit trees. A permaculturist must not only know how prune a fruit tree for best food production, for the health of the tree, and safety of those who work and play under them.

1 comment:

  1. I just visited a small permaculture garden on an Urban block. I was very impressed, and have always been a fan of this system of Gardening!
    Marty from the Potted Vegetable Garden.