I have been very public about my lazivore gardening tendencies, and have even decided to take a complete break from growing food next year before shrinking my garden down to about half its size in an effort to make it more manageable.
So it's little wonder that I am a big fan of both permaculture and square foot gardening as a means to making gardening less work. But while permaculture focuses on mimicking the polycultures found in nature, square foot gardening seeks to carefully manage a minimal amount of space for maximum output.
So aren't the two approaches diametrically opposed?
Not as much as you might think. In fact, permaculture has never been about a strict "copying" of natural systems, but rather a careful observation of the principles that nature uses to remain productive—including diverse plantings; stacking of different crops; and creating micro-climates and ecological niches—all of which could be applied in a square foot gardening set up.
In fact that's what one community gardener in Orange County, California seems to be doing in this video where they have build fairly typical square foot gardening beds, but are planting them with the kinds of polycultures more typical of a permaculture approach. The use of rocks to store heat is an interesting addition here too. And the relatively neat structure of a square foot raised bed garden is, presumably, a good way to seek approval in a community garden setting where (in my experience) some folks may be less welcoming of a more laissez faire, wild forest garden aesthetic.
Anyone else have ideas on, or experience of, how to combine these two approaches to food production?