Easy Organic Permaculture System
More and more, people are scrambling to learn how to grow vegetables. As food prices soar in response to climate change and rising oil prices, it is certainly making increasing financial sense to grow your own food.
And growing your own organically helps shield you from the rising costs of petrochemical (oil based) pesticides and fertilizers. You’ll reap great health benefits too. We discovered this for ourselves.
Is it hard to grow your own food? Not at all. And information I came across recently has made it even easier!
Using one simple Permaculture-inspired system, you can grow your own vegetables, fruit and even eggs organically.
The system was developed by Linda Woodrow and is presented in her book The Permaculture Home Garden which I now consider my gardening bible.
Linda is an experienced commercial organic grower who used Permaculture principles to come up with a fantastic low-work, high productivity system.
I have no doubt that her comprehensive book will inspire and empower you get out there and really grow your own food!
How to Grow Vegetables, Fruit and Eggs Using Linda’s System:
Advantages of this ‘Grow Your Own Food’ System
- How to Grow Vegetables the Low-Work Way!
The main work required to maintain this garden is the raising of seedlings, and the regular sourcing of organic matter such as mulch and food scraps. There is very little (if any) weeding to be done.
- High Water Efficiency
Heavy mulching ensures that minimal water is needed to maintain a productive garden.
- How to Grow Vegetables with Minimal Weeding!
Through clever use of a combination of chickens, mulching and composting the weed population is dramatically reduced down to just enough to be useful as pest decoys, chook food and vegetable companions.
If you can’t keep chickens where you live, Linda also offers an alternative system and garden layout that uses earthworms and wild birds instead to do much of the work for you.
Features of Linda’s ‘Grow Your Own Food’ System
Mandala Garden Layout
The Permaculture design of the garden system is what makes it work so well. And a Mandala garden is a cunning way to grow your own food without fuss, as Linda describes in her book.
One Mandala can supply enough food for a family. And from 7 Mandalas, Linda grows enough organic food to make a living.
Vegetables and Hens
In the Mandala garden system, each Mandala comprises six “veges and hens” circles, each designed to accommodate an appropriately sized, dome-shaped chicken tractor. While mostly used to grow vegetables, part of each circle is also planted to chicken fodder species to provide for your hens.
Spending about 2 weeks in each position, the chicken tractor is rotated through the circles of the mandala.
The chickens happily feast on the spent vegetables and chicken fodder, plus weed, fertilize and dig – in short, they do all of the work for you, while also supplying beautiful fresh organic eggs!
Large additions of organic material such as greengrocer and restaurant food wastes, weeds, seaweeds, manures and straw are regularly made to the garden via the chicken tractor.
These are efficiently processed by the chickens to remove all weed seeds.
When the dome is moved on, the area is then ready for planting with your well grown vegetable seedlings.
Compost and Intensive Vegetable Bed Sites
Outside the chicken tractor stations, are easily reached areas close to the pathways. These are ideal sites for intensive vegetable growing of plants that need attention while growing (e.g. tomato plants for regular training and tying onto stakes) or harvesting (e.g. parsley and salad plants are harvested daily so are best located within easy reach).
Since the soil beneath a finished compost site is left clear, fertile and ready to plant, these areas are cleared of weeds by using them to site your compost piles.
Linda even tabulates the yield in weight of vegetables you can expect from your mandala under the different planting regimes she prescribes for each of the circular guilds within it.
Herbal Edge Guild
On the outside edge of the Mandala are grown plants that form a dense barrier (e.g. lemongrass, banna grass, sugarcane, canna lilies) to help keep out running grasses.
Just inside this barrier you can grow useful herbs and flowers that will also serve to repel pests, and attract predators (e.g. wasps) and pollinators. Linda gives information on the best plants to grow – all important know how to grow vegetables in an organic system.
The Fruit Trees Trick
Mix fruit trees are arranged around the Mandala chronologically according to their fruiting and harvesting times. The chicken dome is placed under a tree just after it has finished fruiting. They can feast on the fallen fruit and any pests that these attract, aiding pest control.
Two weeks later they are moved to the next tree, which, if you’ve planned it right, is itself just finished fruiting. Ain’t that beautiful?
Since we have acreage we have plenty of room for fruit trees. What we’re planting in our Mandalas are dwarf and multi graft fruit trees of varieties that need extra care.
- Those most susceptible to fruit fly such as apricot, peach and nectarine.
- Those most susceptible to birds. We’ll keep our multi graft pear tree small so it’s easy to protect from parrots with a fruit tree net.
- Those that are picked over a longer period, such as cumquat, lemon and avocado.
What Vegetables to Plant Where and When
Linda provides detailed planting plans for how to grow vegetables in this system.
The plans include suggested plant varieties for each of the “veges and hens” circles and when to plant according to the moon cycle, down to how many of each type will be needed for each circle “guild” and the weight of organic vegetables you can expect it to yield.
The guilds are groups that have beneficial companion plant relationships with each other.
Permaculture ponds are integral to creating effective, productive systems. In this vege system, for example, the central pond is important as a habitat for frogs.
Encouraging frogs and other critters to your garden is a great organic way to keep pests under control. I also use mine to grow watercress, a mineral-rich and nutritious salad ingredient.
The path is thickly covered with sawdust (not from chemically treated timber, mind). This suppresses weeds, and drains readily too.
All in all,”The Permaculture Home Garden” is a must-have reference on how to grow vegetables, fruit and eggs that you’ll find empowering and indispensable!