As I learn to garden in Florida, I am constantly being pulled toward this concept of permaculture. This is a new term for me and an exciting idea. By definition, permaculture means: the development of agricultural ecosystems intended to be sustainable and self-sufficient. It centers around replicating patterns in the natural ecosystems.
Understanding the natural ecosystems in Florida helps to understand how things survive. Because it takes a determined plant to survive drastic dry seasons, flooding, numerous pests and a scorching heat. Florida’s landscape and weather is so unique that it’s best to scrap anything you’ve ever known about gardening and stick to what works in Florida. And I guarantee, if you’re new to Florida gardening, it’s like nothing you have previously learned.
What makes up permaculture:
- Edible gardening: this could be raised beds, vertical gardening, or placed throughout your yard.
- Companion planting: this helps attract beneficial bugs or can deter insects from neighboring plants.
- Sheet mulching: this is newspapers, cardboard, straw, mulch, compost, soil all working together as a weed barrier; to hold in moisture; and to add nutrients to the soil.
- Composting: using food scraps, yard waste to add nutrients to the soil. Vermiculture can also be an added element to compositing.
- Water feature: rainbarrels, drip irrigation, etc.
The benefits of permaculture:
- Diversity: medicinal plants, wildlife habitat, food crops, herbs, flowers, fruits.
- Sustainability: the initial prepping and planting may be time consuming, but with the right tools and plants, your garden will thrive with less maintenance.
- No need for pesticides: companion planting creates an environment that brings in beneficial bugs. Permaculture creates a diversity that mimics nature and creates a more balance environment for the insects and plants.
How to begin:
- Research your gardening zone.
- Evaluate your soil.
- Evaluate your sunlight.
- Visit local nurseries for ideas and advise.
- Consult a permaculture designer.
- Plant your choice of fruit trees, then shrubs, then edible raised beds.
I believe permaculture has a place in any Florida garden. It’s a way to maximize vegetable and fruit output, and a way to take advantage of nature’s guiding hand to create success in edible gardening. Permaculture is a way to experiment and grow as a gardener.
A personal relationship of mindful care for the Earth ecology is the foundation of the health of all species, all lives. ~ Tig-le House