Planning A Permaculture Garden
One of my favorite subjects. One that I am constantly learning more and more about.
So many things fall under the subject of permaculture, that I could hardly touch on them all in one post.
So, today we are just going to talk about planning a permaculture garden for your fruits and vegetables.
This is not so much the “edible forest garden” part of permaculture, but rather planting your annual fruits and vegetables in a permaculture style.
Once you have prepared the ground for your permaculture garden, it’s time to start planning what vegetables to plant, and where to plant them.
This is a great time to consult last year’s garden journal to see what varieties did best, and how much of each kind of vegetable you want to plant this year.
If you are wanting to grow enough vegetables to last your family for the entire year, here are a couple of articles that will help you gauge how much to grow.
- How much should you plant to provide a year’s worth of food? ~The Well Fed Homestead
- How much should I plant? ~New Life On A Homestead
I like to make a little chart that shows which things I need to plant inside, and which things I sow directly into the garden. My chart also includes dates that I need to plant each thing.
I find that planting times vary so much between zones and areas, that is is vital to do your own research on the best times for your location. All those “When To Plant” charts are great, but please make sure you take your zone and area into account before blindly following them!
Now that I have issued that warning, I am going to share my “When To Plant” chart with you.
It is specifically for my zone 7a here in Central Virginia. The chart also includes the varieties of each vegetable that I am planting this year. You can use them as a guide or delete them and put in the varieties you will be growing.
Feel free to change it to work with your zone or area, and/or share it with your friends.
Once you have your chart filled out, it’s time to figure out WHERE you will be planting all this vegetable goodness.
I use a piece of graph paper to physically draw out my garden. This year my garden is is 32’x40′, so each square on my paper represents a square foot.
I have incorporated several permaculture techniques that include:
- Arranging my beds and rows in a “keyhole” fashion.
- Planting chives and comfrey with my strawberries to better nourish them and repel strawberry eating bugs. (shout out to my friend Amy from Tenth Acre Farm for this awesome idea)
- Practicing other companion planting such as marjoram with squash, marigolds and basil with tomatoes, etc…
- Using parsley, cilantro, calendula, and sweet alyssum as living mulch. I am also planting creeping thyme as a living mulch, but it will be concentrated in the PATHS, rather than the garden beds. (Creeping thyme is very hardy and is referred to as a “steppable”)
- Using a mulching material anywhere there are no plants growing. (Chopped leaves, grass clippings, compost, and straw.)
- And of course, using a no-till, “lasagna style” to create the garden beds.
Mulching is such a huge part of a healthy, low-weed garden. The way it works is threefold.
- Mulching helps to prevent weeds by “suffocating” them, and preventing sunlight from reaching through to them.
- Mulch retains moisture, and reduces the amount of watering you need to do.
- The mulch breaks down and provides extra nutrients to the soil.
So, next you need to choose what you will be using for mulch, and find a good source.
I am a huge believer in using what is readily accessible in your area of the world.
If you live in the mid-west, old hay or straw is probably the most readily available mulching material to you. If you live in a very wooded area like I do, leaves are probably your best bet. Live on the coast? Seaweed is an awesome mulching material!
I use mostly chopped dried leaves, with a bit of grass clippings and straw thrown in. I also utilize as much compost as I can make!
Now, you know how much you need to grow, you have your seeds started inside, your chart of “where to plant”, and your chart of “when to plant”, your garden space prepared, your compost is brewing and your mulch sources are located.
You are all set to have a thriving and productive garden this year!
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