Twelve principles for twelve months – May – Diversity

Throughout 2015 I will be looking at Bill Mollison’s Permaculture Principles.           I have allocated one principle per month at random. I will aim to find a relevant image, some quotations around the subject, some possible applications and a challenge for myself that relates to the Principle and the Permaculture activity I am involved in at that time. May – Diversity


This photograph shows the diversity of berries that we are growing in our garden. We have lots of soft fruit; strawberries, wild strawberries, gooseberries, blackcurrants, red currants, raspberries, white currants and blackberries. This provides us with many weeks worth of successional cropping when its possible to pick a handful of berries to decorate the morning cereal. This was an intentional part of my garden design, I didn’t need rows and rows of the same berry, but instead dotted lots of different berry plants around the garden, taking advantage of the different niches that were available.


Today I have taken all of my quotations from websites. On googling ‘Diversity, Permaculture’ so much useful information came to light. If any of my readers want to learn more on this fascinating subject, then a quick google search or follow the links below should provide you with a wealth of information.

Permaculture designs should always try to incorporate a wide variety of plants, animals and approaches. This is not just for the sake of it, but because diversity can act like an insurance policy – if one crop fails, another may succeed. Even within an orchard there will be a diversity of different varieties. Take apples as an example. A healthy diverse orchard will contain early flowering, late flowering, eaters, and cookers. If an early frost gets some, others will be popping out flowers later on.                                                           Permaculture Association website

Permaculture design aims for as much diversity and variety as possible. It is the exact opposite to conventional agriculture, which relies on huge monocultures and struggles with all the associated problems.                                

…the design principle of Diversity shows us that, just like in Nature, when we combine many plant species together that have a beneficial relationship to one other, they in fact grow better, produce higher yields, resists pests and diseases and are overall much more resilient in such a system. When we include animals in our design and place them where they can work harmoniously with the rest of the system, we further gain many more benefits from the synergy created. The most important point to remember with the design principle of diversity is that what is important is the total number of functional relationships between elements in the design, not the total number of elements themselves         


The important of having a wide diversity of different types of plants in your garden is well documented in Permaculture. One way that I like to apply this thinking is through the creation of ‘Guilds’ Guilds are groupings of plants that are carefully considered and planted close together to support each other’s growth. I have various guilds set up in my garden and at the community allotment. I wrote about an apple tree guild I created a few years ago here


A challenge that I am currently facing is how to manage the diversity in my working life. Permaculture has taught me that a diverse career is a stable one. I have developed a poly-income for myself, which is rewarding but can prove tricky. This spring as well as raising three children and running a household I am teaching photography, studying for a Permaculture diploma, shadowing a PDC, running an outdoor playgroup, writing a blog, raising chickens, helping my sister look after her tiny baby, training to be a Forest school teacher and growing food for my family. Phew. I am also trying to be a good wife, daughter, sister, friend, neighbour and mother. That huge list of roles can make for some difficult diary management and multiple epic to-do lists!

So my ongoing challenge is to work with the diversity in my life, work out what to prioritize, figure out the best way to juggle my roles and find a way to fulfill my voluntary obligations, hit my study targets and balance the books. I am just about keeping my head above water at the moment but I think I am far busier than I have ever been in my life. Each available moment is full to bursting but I feel grateful that it is all such interesting stuff and that lots of wonderful doors are opening for me all the time. Exciting times!