Saturday, May 24, 2014

A frustrating beginning

I learned about the ideas of permaculture from a Second Life friend, who is planning to retire to a life of permaculture in the next few months.  I'd been vaguely aware of it as a word, but I assumed it was something about being green and sustainable without ever finding out about the specifics.  He told me that the ideas of permaculture were to work with nature and not against it, trying to make use of the things which nature does automatically to bring balance to any system.

The idea is that you try to plant companion plants which will assist each other, and do in a short time what nature will eventually do, to bring fertility to the soil.  It means observing what grows well in your soil and growing conditions and trying to work with that.

Mod sent me some links, and told me about Masonobu Fukuoka's philosophy, and my journey started there.  I watched some interesting documentaries on youtube, read articles about the general principles, and was convinced that there was a great deal in the idea of working with nature and not against it.

In December last year I moved north to Lincolnshire, and bought a house with an established (and small) garden. 
The garden is lovely, but had been neglected for some time as the previous owners had been in poor health, and so despite its smallness, there is a lot to do.  For example, the laburnum tree in the back garden was full of ivy, which was gradually strangling the tree.  By the thick vines which were plaited around the trunks of the tree, it had been allowed to go wild for some years.

I've searched for books and online websites which will help me to do what I want to do, which is to convert an established garden into a permaculture garden, retaining the things which are flourishing and working for me, and replacing those things that aren't.  I want to retain a garden that I enjoy and want to like its appearance as well as working with nature.  However, a lot of the books and online websites seem to assume that you will be starting from scratch, have acres of land or be living in California!  I can find little guidance for what someone in my situation, in Lincolnshire, should do.

I can see that a lot of people in England are impressed by the ideas of permaculture and are also struggling to work out how to do it, and so I decided to document what I am doing, in case it should be helpful to someone else.

I have an additional difficulty:  having only been in this house for a few months, I have *no* idea what is in my borders and around the garden.  I'm not a novice gardener, but I find it difficult to identify plants and shrubs if they don't have flowers on them.  People tell me that the garden has some beautiful lilies which have graced the front garden for at least 60 years, but I haven't seen those yet.  I don't want to inadvertently rip up something beautiful, especially in the front garden.  As my front garden is very close to a busy road, I don't feel I can grow crops to eat there - I'm going to keep to beneficial plants which can be used for natural fertilisers etc.

 So this is the beginning of permaculture at Sycamore House.


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