Eagle County Garden Buzz column: Permaculture primer
Ryan Summerlin April 19, 2013
Although the temperatures are still below freezing, it’s never too early to start planning for your (currently hibernating) garden. Now is a great time to contemplate how you would like to change your garden and start creating a plan of action to grow your dream landscape. To start, you might want to ask yourself a few questions. What was or was not working in your garden? What plants thrived? What died? Are you enjoying your landscape? Perhaps if things have not gone as smoothly as you had hoped over the past few growing seasons, taking a different approach might be worth the effort.If you are looking for a new way to garden, a more sustainable, eco-friendly, nearly effortless and inexpensive approach, then you should try your hand (or spade) at practicing permaculture. Permaculture is a unique take on sustainable farming, ranching, gardening, and most importantly, a conscious way of life. Permaculture places great emphasis on observing and mimicking natural ecosystems to create landscapes that are not only beautiful, but bountiful, regenerative, and non-destructive.A permaculture system, once established, can be maintained using minimal effort, materials and energy. Despite feeling like you’re being a lazy gardener, your permaculture garden will continue to grow with the greatest of abundance. Permaculture systems are designed to be diverse and multi-functional. In the event that one of your elements doesn’t quite turn out the way you planned, the system will continue to thrive with little-to-no human intervention.Not to mention, permaculture puts great importance on repurposing, reusing and redigesting all waste products created by the system. By directly reintroducing all waste created by your garden back into the garden, you can virtually eliminate pollution and costly nutrient supplements. Now this is a concept that might take some getting used to. But rest assured, once you start to look at all of the elements of the garden as a potential source of nutrients to ensure a happier and healthier garden, your plants won’t be the only ones brightening up the neighborhood.Permaculture is a concept designed in the 1970s by David Holmgren and Bill Mollison in Australia. Together they created a way to change how we humans interact with our landscapes, produce food, deal with our wastes and care for our planet. Their grassroots movement has spread to all corners of the earth, and can be found in all climate zones on every continent. Permaculture systems have been established on every scale, from farms to apartments, ranches to suburbs, in cities, gardens, schools and communities. This isn’t a fad that’s going to shrivel away, this is the latest in conservation and sustainability practices.We all can incorporate permaculture techniques into our lives. Even in the dead of winter, you can start to assimilate permaculture ways by composting kitchen scraps, recycling used bottles and cans, conserving water, turning the heat down a few degrees, or by starting your own seedlings indoors. Another great step to incorporating permaculture into your life is to hit the library. By learning more about your local ecosystem and about how to create your own permaculture systems, we all can do our part in regenerating our planet while creating gorgeous, abundant gardens. Rita Manna is a landscape designer, permaculture designer and landscape architecture graduate student. Specializing in water conservation techniques, permaculture garden tactics, and native plantings, she is the owner of Reet’s Garden & Design located in Eagle-Vail. Call970-310-1423, visitwww.reetsgarden.com, or email her atReetsGarden@gmail.com for more information.