3 Things I Learned Working on a Permaculture Garden
I wanted to start a permaculture garden here in Lucena. Articles about global warming, declining animal population and the like had me looking around to find something I could do for my part. I found permaculture after a couple of years and I felt it was exactly what I was looking for. It’s been a year now and let me share 3 main things that I learned during our first year of permaculture gardening.
Things are a lot easier when you have help.
Of course it is! But do we even look for help from nature when we work in our garden? I, for one, didn’t use to.
Let’s look at our soil – it has organisms that help our plants access nutrients better, some help in drainage, others in control among others. Providing food (like compost) is one way of nurturing them so more organisms could help us in the garden.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, or so they say ^_^ .
As a designer, random holes and dead leaves on our plants bother me. I like things pretty and I thought shiny and unmarked leaves are healthy leaves, so I try to keep them like that. I also liked modern landscaping design and wanted to keep them neatly cut.
This is how our garden looks today – nothing like the pristine and orderly garden design that I used to like. In the left photo, you will find okra, papaya, thai basil, mani, calamansi, kangkong, siling haba and siling labuyo. In the right, you will find patola, sitao, sweet and purple basil, okra, siling labuyo, alugbati, malunggay, a bench, a compost bucket and a bird bath. All of them, located among different native flowers that attracts bees and butterflies, and are standing on a mulched soil protected from the sun, with a concealed swale that helps capture more water when it rains.
Most people find our garden too busy and messy, which is understandable if they’re used to what modern gardens usually look like. Some days, you will even find a couple of rotting fruits left lying around (they do serve a purpose by the way). Even so, I am always on the lookout on how we can make our garden look nicer and orderly. We added recycled stepping stones, clay plant markers and bamboo trellises – but I admit I have yet to find the balance that works for me.
As I learn more about permaculture, I also began to appreciate the relationship between plants and the animals they attract. So now when I look at partially eaten leaves on our Calamansi plant (for example), what I see is a healthy tree that can now host a caterpillar – a caterpillar which can be food for a hungry bird or can grow into a butterfly. Imperfect-looking leaves are signs of life and that is always a beautiful thing, don’t you think?
I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.
With stories like 4,000 deaths per day in China due to air pollution, disappearing bees, illegal wildlife trading in the Philippines and so on, it’s easy to feel small and discouraged. I stopped consuming news about the environment for a while because I’ve started to feel overwhelmed and hopeless.
I decided instead to look closely at how I’m contributing to the problems myself. I happily embraced minimalism and it was with the stories of permaculture practices that I’ve started to have hope again. Permaculture has given me a deeper sense of awareness of nature, of abundance and what nature can do if we worked with it.
My stone could be the parakeet that I decided to adopt about 5 years ago. It’s a long story but I can trace the garden and writing for Lucenahin as two of the ripples that it has helped create. Or it could be this very article reaching at least a single person who will plant a garden or sign the petition to help wildlife in Palawan. Whatever kind of stone you cast, it will always matter that you did something for our planet – don’t let other people tell you otherwise.