Twelve Principles for twelve months – an update

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.

IMG_9734This photos shows a rainbow chard plant growing in my garden. It stays vibrant for months, the ruby-red colour shine out and draws my eye every time I walk past. I love the parallels in appearance with a tree. if you look carefully you can imagine the stem and branches. The stem is like permaculture principles, keeping us strong and nourished in all that we do.

Oh my goodness, I have been so rubbish at sticking to this aim. The last time I blogged on this subject was back in June. So here is an update about what I have done and what I should have done…

July and August. I allocated two months over the summer to look at the attitudinal principles; for example, ‘everything gardens’ ‘Yield is limited only by the imagination of the gardener’ and ‘the problem is the solution’ I confess that I skived off. I decided to take time off, concentrate only on vital tasks and enjoy time with my family. So I will return to these principles next year.

September. Each element performs many functions. 

October. Each function is supported by many elements. 

Quotations

“Each element in the system should be chosen and placed so that it performs as many functions as possible. Use relative location so elements with diverse functions have their qualities perpetuated” treeyopermacultureedu.wordpress.com

“In a permaculture design, each element has many functions, the minimum being three. Having three or more functions helps create a stable and diverse food growing system because each element is connected together, making energy cycle through the system rather than being lost as wastes, i.e. food production can be connected to animal husbandry, composting, useful structures etc… This diverse food growing ecosystem is the opposite to a monoculture which only has one yield and is of little or no benefit to the surrounding eco-system.” http://www.permaculture.co.uk

“In a sustainable design, important functions are supported by more than one element. The more elements there are to support an individual function, the more stable and safe the overall system will be in the event of any one element failing” http://www.permaculture.co.uk

 

Application 

I looked at these two principles together as they are like two sides of one coin. I thought about my career path and how linked or otherwise the elements of it were. I looked at the functions of my career, what it does, (makes an income and gives me fulfillment) Then I looked at the elements, all the separate activities that I do. (Studying, teaching, training etc) I draw lines to link up these areas and created this crazy scribble below! In Permaculture we call it a ‘web of connections’ I discovered that all separate elements of my career are all very interlinked. I think this gives me meaning, cohesion and resilience. Pretty good I thought!

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Challenge

October is almost over so I will not be setting myself a challenge this month. I will however aim to complete this project over the coming months. In November I am looking at ‘Use biological resources’ and December will be ‘Small scale intensive systems’

 

Twelve Principles for twelve months – June -Relative location

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. June – Relative location

IMG_2167This image shows the importance of relative location in gardening terms. By placing my seedlings close to the chicken pen, I walk past them twice at day at least and can easily see which need watering, potting on or rescuing from a snail!

QUOTATIONS

The core of permaculture is design, and design is a connection between things             Bill Mollison

Relative Location dictates the need for elements to be arranged so they can create functional interconnections.  It is wonderful for a landscape to contain numerous elements such as pond, chickens, and trees, but if these elements do not interrelate in a beneficial way then we have not designed properly.                 treeyopermacultureedu.wordpress.com

In Permaculture our primary concern is with the relationship between things, and how they interact, rather than with the things themselves. So, in Permaculture design, we focus on the connection between things, and by understanding the nature of the elements, and how they benefit each other, we can determine the optimum location for them. http://deepgreenpermaculture.com

APPLICATION

Putting the right thing in the right place should be applied in all areas of people’s lives. Placing the tea bags and the mugs close to the kettle is one obvious application, as it having your herb pot just outside the backdoor. Relative location is a very important part of Permaculture design. Once you have decided on the elements you want to use, then consider the ways in which they connect together and how you could place them to make the greatest number of positive connections. I like to make a ‘web of connections’ as shown in the photo below. This example ended up begin rather too complicated, but you can get the general idea of how it works.

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CHALLENGE

My challenge this month is to continue planting up my summer garden, considering where I place the plants and trying to make useful connections between them. For example. I have just one raised bed left to plant up now. Until yesterday it had the chicken run over it, I designed this to fit perfectly over the raised beds. Our broody hen, Aggie and her chicks have spent the last 6 weeks on this bed, turning over the soil and adding their manure to it. The chicks are now big enough to join their cousins in the main run and the bed is ready for planting into! Lots of useful connections made there in the placement of elements of my garden design. IMG_6246Here they are at about 1 week old. They are much bigger and beautifully feathered now.

My second challenge is to spend some time thinking about where in the house I work. We don’t have a spare room, so I work from home at the family computer in the living room. This works well if everyone else is out of the house, but more often than not I am trying to squeeze in moments to work while wrangling three kids. As I am sure you can imaging, interruptions are many and varied! My piles of papers get knocked over and used for paper aeroplanes or drawing of cats. The computer is pressed into action to watch Ceebies or Netflix and I am generally very frustrated with the situation.

Something needs to change and fast! I need a cheap ( ideally free) solution that still allows me to make useful connections with family life, but have a little more peace and quiet to work. Ideally I’d love to buy/build a summer-house and pop it into the garden to work in. But for the time-being it’s probably going to be a solution more like shifting the furniture around. I will keep on pondering on this problems this month and post again if I find a good solution.

 

 

My garden design – Design process part three.

The write up for my garden design now enters the ‘Design’ stage. This post will cover; Ethics and Principles, web of connections, placements and pattern, companion planting and guilds.

Ethics IMG_0903I have considered where my design fulfilled Permaculture ethics. I drew this out in the form of the three ethics circles. I also considered where garden elements touched on two of the ethics simultaneously and included this in the overlap areas.

PrinciplesIMG_0946

The diagram above shows how my design fulfils Permaculture principles. Some principles were focussed on more than others, but I have considered each principle at least briefly during the design process.

Web of connections

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All of the garden elements are linked with at least a few of the others. The web of connections represents this visually. I can instantly see that water capture, perennial vegetables, chickens and the greenhouse have many connections. So this was considered during the placement stage.

Placements and pattern.  I talked about placement of man-made elements such as paths, chicken run, water catchment and table and chairs in my previous post. I  used Random assembly to consider placements and connections. This is also detailed in a previous post. For natural elements, in particular the planting, I looked at the Permaculture Principle ‘Design from pattern to detail’ to help me consider how to place the elements required in my garden. I drew out the current planting and marked where the spaces were for new or additional planting.

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I then chose to focus on the mid section of the garden as this was the most intensive food production zone. This includes the 7 raised beds, 2 key hole beds, greenhouse and chickens. I drew out this section of the garden at a larger scale.

IMG_0908IMG_0906The overlay shows this section of the garden and the pattern of the beds labelled in their most simple terms, ie, the pattern,  annual veg, kids bed, chickens etc.

IMG_0907This overlay adds detail, with existing planting marked in and details of mulching done over the winter.

IMG_0905Even more detail can be seen when the two overlays are viewed together. Gaps for planting are easily seen alongside the broad plan for what type of planting I have in mind.

Placement of plants. I used the design tool, Planning for real to decide where to plant my crops. This is a great way of trying out various combinations and moving them around until you find a layout you are happy with. The plants were written onto post-it notes and shuffled around on the maps and overlays. The photo below shows the process

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Companion planting and Guilds. I created a Web of connections to help me to think about companion planting. I wrote crops that I wanted to grow around the edge of a sheet of paper, then drew lines to connect plants that grow well together. I found this a very useful tool to depict visually a lot of information in a simple way. I’d like to do this again for a future project, adding more plants and connections. I could also include information on plants to keep apart (maybe by colour-coding the connection lines?) IMG_0913

IMG_0915 I noted ideas for good companion planting schemes for crops I wanted to grow.

IMG_0914I thought about guilds, specifically for around the young fruit trees. I intend to replicate elements of this guild around each young fruit tree in my garden. The left hand page of my sketch book above shows the guild plants and their purposes. The right hand page shows some initial ideas for the new keyhole beds.

My next post will share my design proposal.