This week's 'dig'
Kate at High Altitude Gardening reports a neat thing happening in SLC, UT

You know you're a gardener when...
Blunders with Shoots, Blossoms 'n Roots
Where things either live or die!

Sep 5, 2009

A Ha! Permaculture!


Warning: For those of you that only look at my pictures (you know who you are ;), you will be disappointed, sorry :)

In all my gardening years (just over 10 I think), I’ve always done one thing every year and that’s experiment. I’m always looking for a better, faster, more economical, more low maintenance way of doing everything all the time. I also have had it in my mind that when I build or add something to my garden, it should have more than one purpose. I’ve leaned toward working with nature instead of against it (yes, it’s because it’s less work). After all why dig down when going up is easier and better for the soil structure (lasagna beds opposed to double digging!). Why are forests so lush, green, and teaming with life and diseases are kept in check when there is no one coming in to turn the soil (a no-no in my book), fertilize, mulch, or even water? Every time I’d learn about a new idea, or get one myself, I’d ask myself  WWND (what would nature do)?

So, can someone please tell me why I’m just now learning about Permaculturea system of cultivation intended to maintain permanent agriculture or horticulture by relying on renewable resources and a self-sustaining ecosystem..? I read garden books sometimes 3 at a time! My shelves are full of books, highlighted and falling apart! I’ve know about  sustainability and have worked hard on growing my own compost supplies to work towards that end, etc., but Permaculture has opened my eyes to a much bigger picture. And I even live in the hairy armpitaka hippie haven, tree hugger city, etc. capitol of the world! From keyhole and Mandala beds, to building swales and berms that collect and store water in the soil in addition to rain barrels- I’m hooked! What better place to store water than in the soil- assuming the soil is humus rich, of course. The beginning of this video explains what a swale is-




Permaculture...where have you been my whole gardening life!

Of course there is so much more to it that just these things I’ve mentioned, so if you’re wondering what I’m babbling about, go to your library or local Barnes and Noble and get a book called Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture 2nd edition. I’m flying through this book and had a need to grab my highlighter very early on, but couldn’t because it’s a library book! By the way, if anyone knows of even better books, websites, etc. about this subject please email me!

I’m so excited about this it is unreal. With the very real possibility of moving in our future (and to a sunnier, high desert area possibly), I’ve been mulling over some ideas of what my new garden would look like. I started drawing up some ideas on graph paper and had some really nice ideas and then I found this book! Some of my ideas fit right into Permaculture, I’m happy to say!  Forget ‘garden’. Forget straight rows in boxes (except my Coleman 30” wide beds in the greenhouse;). The only reason we garden that way is because that’s how ‘they’ve’ done it in the past, and because it made sense with farming equipment. These straight rows have never sat well with me- there’s no flow. If you go back a little farther past industrial farms, you’ll find that some ancient cultures had much better ideas- and prettier too. Go ahead, do a search on keyhole or herb spirals (Thanks Stuart at Gardening Tips ‘n’ Ideas).  Or even better, Mandala beds! They have more square footage as well- I know, surprising.  I think you’ll be as inspired as I have been!

Okay, I feel better now that I’ve shared my new and exciting love with you all. My next garden  food forest (or the current one, if we stay a bit longer) will be so much fun to put together! I’ll be sure to put up some of my plans, as soon as I figure out a way to do that!

Happy gardening,



  • Anonymous

    Glad you have found something that inspires you so much...I will have to look into permaculture myself now...I am intrigued!!

  • Knittlebits

    I first heard about permaculture through Toby Hemenway's Gaia's Garden. He just released a second edition which is definitely worth a look. It's an exciting way to look at the world and your place in it. Welcome to the obsession!

  • Tatyana@MySecretGarden

    Tessa, it's a great post! You inspired me to do some research.

  • Rosey Pollen

    Wait a second, I thought I lived in the hairy armpit in Nederland, Colorado!
    I am intrigued by Permaculture as well, a lot of people are into that here. Thanks for reminding me of another topic to study this LONG winter!
    Try Barnes and Noble for books, sometimes you can get used books that look NEW.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Tessa~~ Looks like you've been busy during your convalescence. Inspiration is always a good thing. We gardeners are always looking ahead. Improvements to be made, alterations worth considering.... It looks like you're gleaning info that will make your life easier, more enjoyable and good for the globe--an all around win.

Post a Comment

Don't hesitate leaving your thoughts! My comments are highlighted in light green. I support the No-NoFollow/DoFollow comments movement, so you all will get some well deserved link love! As always, happy gardening to you :)


Fight spam not blogs! Read more here