Step One: Getting To Know Your Garden, Taking Stock

Every journey begins with a single step – but before you take that first step, it is important to look where you are going and determine where you are. Permaculture is a design system that can help you determine where you want to go on your journey to a greener way of life. Permaculture can give you a range of principles, practices, hints and tips that show the way forward. It can also show you the end point that you are trying to reach in your home and garden.

In order to reach the goals you will begin to set for yourself, you will first need to establish where you are starting from. This may seem obvious but when you are trying to transition to a greener way of life, the obvious is a very good starting point. Take a good long look at your garden and think about how it relates to and provides (or could be made to provide) for your home.

Consider the following:

  • What is the weather like where you live? Consider not just the broader climate but also any micro-climate effects, how and where the sun falls throughout the year, where, when and how often rain falls and where the wind comes from and how hard it blows.
  • What patterns do you see in the natural world around you? Think about how you can become more in tune with natural patterns and how nature can be harnessed in various ways.
  • What do you need from your space, what would you like? How about others with whom you live? What about the wildlife?
  • What works well about your existing home and garden? What would you like to change?
  • What resources do you have at your disposal that could be useful in setting up your garden?

The last question will probably provide you with a starting point for action. While you can never observe too much, there comes a point when you will want to put your plans into action and begin to move towards a more sustainable way of life. You should always begin by making the most of what you already have – working with nature rather than trying to bend it too much to your will.

Happy kid boy planting seeds of tomatoes

Resources at your disposal will always begin with sunlight – a source of renewable energy for us all. Rainwater is another valuable resource. Soil is another resource and much of what we aim for in permaculture is about protecting and nurturing that soil so it can continue to work for us, growing food and keeping us happy and healthy in body and mind. Beyond those three basic things, we also have the plants themselves – plants which can be a valuable resource in many ways – as biomass to feed the soil through mulches or liquid feeds, for fuel, for shade, for food, for health remedies, for arts and crafts… the list goes on. Other things such as household waste can also become a valuable resource in your new, more sustainable life.

Before you can begin to truly transform your garden and your life, take stock. Make a list of the resources at your disposal and think about how you can make use of them. Thinking deeply should be the first step of any journey.

Soon. Step Two: Harvesting Renewable Resources In Your Home and Garden

Post by Elizabeth Waddington

Eli Waddington
Elizabeth Waddington lives with her husband and her dog on a sustainable smallholding in Scotland. She is a green living consultant and freelance writer with a particular interest in permaculture and organic growing.

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