As a follow-up to my previous post on permaculture, I seek here to provide an actual, hands-on example of a permacultural practice used in gardening (with photos aplenty, courtesy of Alice Olivero) which I had the chance to undertake in an introductory course on permaculture I recently attended near Oxford.
Conventional agricultural methods for reclaiming land often involve digging into the land to eradicate weeds and all other things which we may not want to be in our field with the crop we are bound to plant. This, while beneficial in some respects (e.g. for aerating the soil), is also very disruptive to the organisms living in the soil. Preserving soil food web, however, is very important to keep beneficial organic matter in the soil, which in turns increases the latter’s fertility over time. Hence, a permacultural approach to reclaiming a plot of land can take the form of the creation of a “mulch bed” which, in essence, tries to mimic natural patterns of soil stratification to eliminate underlying weeds for planting other seeds without upsetting the soil’s “underground” life. Read more