When I posted 7 no-cost ways to grow more food from your veggie garden, one commenter argued that mulching was not a good strategy—suggesting that gardeners should plant polycultures instead, following the principles of permaculture.
While I'd dispute the idea that there is one "right" way of gardening, or that mulching and polycultures, or mulching and permaculture for that matter, are mutually exclusive, I do agree on one matter. Understanding permaculture design—which can loosely be described as a design discipline informed by principles observed in nature—can definitely make you a better gardener.
We've posted a fair few videos on permaculture and permaculture-inspired gardening over the years. I thought I'd round up a few of our favorites.
Campus lawn becomes permaculture food forest.
Lawns are rubbish.
Lawns are great, for picnics, for a game of football, or perhaps just lounging around with a lover. But we don't need so damn many of them. At UMass Amherst, a group of green-minded students have been transforming a campus lawn into a food forest
, and they've been growing food for the University cafeteria in the process.
2000 year old food forest feeds 800 farmers
Permaculture is often thought of as a new-fangled, hippy thing. And yet most of its principles and practices are borrowed from traditional agriculture around the world. Food forests and polycultures are nothing new. This food forest in Morocco
, for example, features an overstorey of date palms to an understorey of olives, bananas, dates, grapes, guava, mulberries, carob and tamarind. And much of your coffee, assuming you buy shade grown, organic and Fair Trade from small farmers, will most likely have been grown in some form of forest-inspired polyculture.
A tour of a modern permaculture food forest
The Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute
has been pioneering permaculture for decades. Here we tour a 20 year old food forest and look at what's succeeded and why. Grab a pen and paper and start taking notes.
An incredible permaculture allotment
I learned much of what I know about permaculture from the inimitable Mike Feingold. Here he gives us a tour of his productive, diverse allotment in inner city Bristol. Don't let the chaotic appearance of the plot fool you—Mike grows a ridiculous amount of food on this plot, and shares it abundantly. (Mike's vodka-soaked black currants are a particular treat.)
A permaculture approach to healthy soils
It's easy to focus on the above ground action when it comes to permaculture. What plants go where? How do you cultuvate them etc? But what's going on under the ground is so much more important. Each teaspoon of healthy soil contains millions of microorganisms. Permaculture pioneer Geoff Lawton knows a thing or two about how to take care of them. (He even created a whole documentary all about soil