P110: Permaculture or Planting Intensely

Peak Moment TV™ public access television features a program “Community Responses for a Changing Energy Future”. The episode here is one urban farmer’s tour of his rental property growing enough produce, fruit, legumes, grains, medicinal plants and chickens for his family’s “permaculture-informed” backyard sustainability.

For me it throws out that whole notion that one must have all the answers before beginning. Like our own community garden or my own square foot and container gardens, it is most important to simply plant. Get things in the ground.

The radically new concepts I learned watching this video relate to that permaculture is a very long-term commitment. Secondarily, it is a growing system designed for land owners, rather than renters. Besides permaculture facts, this backyard gardener, Scott McGuire changed my notion of pests. I may have to devote a post on this as it has shaken my long held notions. Lastly, McGuire stresses seed storage as an emergency item.

This little video is jam packed. I am glad I stopped by Treehugger today.

Update: I am reminded that I posted a permaculture related video in February, Desalinating Desert Dirt, that tells a story just this side of miraculous. I'd forgotten that the narrator says, "You can solve all problems with a garden."


Melinda said...

It's interesting for me to watch this given our current decision-making. This is exactly what Matt & I were trying to do in Geyserville with our (also rented) land. Eventually we hoped to get more toward Permaculture, so I was planting a lot of perennials and re-seeding annuals (I wonder if these will start to grow wild after we leave!).

I would love to check back with this family in a year or 2 or 5, to see if they still believe in their lifestyle. I can't think of many rural scenarios I've seen like this that are more than a year or two old - can you? Path to Freedom, for example, is an urban homestead. I've visited (and filmed them), and I believe their system only works because it's urban.

I look at the Growing Challenge participants who are in rural areas, and most of them are new at it. It will be interesting to see if everyone can make it work - maybe they'll all find something we didn't. Or maybe Matt and I are just not cut out for rural living, and don't have the right jobs or live in the right spot to reduce our gas use.

I also wonder how they make it work economically. We couldn't, and that was a huge issue. The garden paid for itself, but the low rural wages and the time necessary to garden in the summer were really, really hard on us. Someday we hope to go back and do it again. But we'll do it with our finances in order, and with high-paying telecommuting or self-employment jobs. And in a place surrounded by others who believe what we believe. In a house we buy, where we can make needed adjustments to conserve water and create a more long-term garden with a few animals (for fertilizer, milk, and eggs).

As far as pests go: I found that if you create healthy plants using good compost and ample water, you should let it be. Let aphids come, and after a few weeks you'll see one ladybug. And then a week later there will be 5. And soon there will be many. And the aphid population will dwindle, and gradually there will be fewer ladybugs again. Then the population will stabilize: with just enough aphids to feed the ladybugs, and ladybugs to eat the aphids. It works beautifully, especially if you plant some beneficial insect-attracting flowers and herbs and/or you let things like radishes and broccoli go to seed - soon they'll be buzzing.

And now my essay is over. ; )

katecontinued said...

Melinda I am captivated with you and Matt's story. I feel it is 'the' story of our lifetimes. How we lived in this 20th century aberration and came to regard it as sacrosanct . . .

I know for a fact I am not a rural gal. Even small towns like I live in are a struggle for me. My salvation is the internet. The things I must think about, talk about, write about and (shit howdy!) hear long and fascinating responses to are here in the virtual world.

So much of the 20th century may disappear as irrelevant, but I must have intelligent interaction. I couldn't wait until my babies grew old enough for a sentient conversation. I have a kind of quota of the stupid wherein I just can't interact with those around me who refuse to scratch the surface of their own minds.

And I struggle with how this is supposed to work with nature and for nature. Conversation seem antithetical to nature.

I agree with you whole heartedly about all of these experiments that are beginning. I was young in the 70's and was manipulated into believing that alternative lifestyles, healthy eating, dropping out and all we were passionate about was really just 'crazy'. Shame, non-validation, mockery are strong weapons, especially when repeated over and over and over.

And finances! The way the world is set up now, the only way we can make this work is to walk away from money. Now she's talkin' crazy!

I have good health and one debt and it is the only reason I am surviving. If I can eliminate my vehicle and live on the food I grow I will be one step closer.