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Just My Opinion

 

Permaculture, for me, gives us hope for regenerative living by showing us how to work with nature, not against it. That we are nature working. It’s all about creating systems that act like natural ecosystems, ensuring they’re solid and full of life. However, when discussing permaculture gardens, we must often include an essential point. There’s no such thing as a “permaculture garden” alone. Instead, a garden is just part of a more extensive permaculture system. There are many reasons why it’s so important to think about gardening in the context of permaculture.

Traditional gardening approaches often prioritise control and manipulation of the environment. Gardeners meticulously plan layouts, select specific plant varieties, and intervene to combat pests and weeds. However, permaculture challenges this paradigm by emphasising collaboration with nature rather than domination over it. In a permaculture system, the garden isn’t an isolated entity but an integral part of a broader ecosystem.

Consider, for instance, the practice of polyculture—the cultivation of multiple plant species in the same space. Unlike monoculture farming, which relies on vast expanses of a single crop, polyculture mimics natural ecosystems, where diverse species coexist and support each other. The garden becomes a tapestry of interwoven relationships in a permaculture system, with each plant fulfilling multiple functions.

Take the classic example of the “three sisters” planting method Indigenous peoples use in the Americas. Corn provides a structure for beans to climb, fixes nitrogen in the soil, and benefits corn and squash. Squatters spread their broad leaves, shading the soil and suppressing weeds. This synergistic relationship demonstrates how a garden can thrive within a permaculture system, where diversity and cooperation lead to greater resilience.

 

Furthermore, permaculture extends beyond plant selection to encompass soil health, water management, and energy efficiency. Composting, mulching, and rainwater harvesting are integral components of a permaculture system, enriching the soil, conserving water, and minimising waste. Gardeners create conditions conducive to abundance and sustainability by nurturing the underlying ecosystem.

 

In my journey with permaculture, I’ve witnessed firsthand the transformative power of viewing gardening through a systemic lens. Rather than seeing my garden as a separate entity to be controlled, I’ve come to regard it as a dynamic part of a larger whole. Every decision I make, from plant selection to water management, is guided by observation, diversity, and integration principles. This is how I have been able over the years to produce so much food in the spaces I inhabited, from a whole system approach, not just the garden.

For example, I’ve embraced natural solutions such as companion planting and biological pest control instead of relying on chemical fertilisers and pesticides. By attracting beneficial insects and creating pollinator habitats, I’ve fostered a balanced ecosystem where pests are kept in check and plants thrive without synthetic inputs.

Moreover, I’ve sought to extend the principles of permaculture beyond the boundaries of my garden, engaging with my community to share knowledge and resources. Whether through organising seed swaps, hosting workshops, or participating in local food initiatives, I’ve sought to create connections and catalyse positive change on a broader scale.

In conclusion, a “permaculture garden” is a misnomer. Instead, we should recognise gardens as integral components of permaculture systems—living, breathing ecosystems shaped by diversity, resilience, and cooperation principles. By embracing permaculture as a holistic framework for sustainable living, we can cultivate gardens and thriving habitats that nourish body, mind, and soul. So let us rethink gardens not as isolated patches of greenery but as vibrant nodes within a web of life, where every plant, every microbe, and every human plays a vital role in shaping a regenerative future.