How to - Organic Gardening

Five elements of permaculture gardening

Senga Lindsay
Photography by
Stacey Van Berkel

Learn how to assemble all the elements in your landscape for the benefit of life in its many forms

3. Use as little space as possible
Even if you have a very small garden, use it efficiently so you can not only grow a year round supply of fresh herbs and vegetables but also have space for wildlife. You can minimize the space you use and maximize your harvest by using techniques like stacking and growing in guilds.

Stacking means planting different species together to make maximum use of vertical space. A classic example is the Three Sisters approach, using sweet corn, beans and squash. The tall corn serves as a trellis for the beans, while squash grows around the corn, discouraging racoons from harvesting the cobs. Three crops grow in the space of one, all supporting each other.

A guild is a grouping of species that exploit the same resources, often in related ways. Some plants may be grown for food production, some to attract beneficial insects, and others to repel harmful insects.

4. Turn a disadvantage into an advantage
Got a low-lying spot at the bottom end of your garden that’s always muddy? It may be the perfect location for a pond and a place for growing water-loving edibles like watercress. By looking at a problem as a possible solution you can change your site challenges to advantages. And in the case of a pond, you’ll be providing one of the most valuable resources in nature—water—which attracts wildlife, including beneficial insects.

5. Collect rainwater
For those with metal or other nontoxic roofing materials, use rain barrels to harvest rainwater from your roof for your gardens and you will be literally saving this precious resource from going down the drain.

Excerpted from Edible Landscaping: Urban Food Gardens That Look Great ($20) by Senga Lindsay. Available at bookstores or online at Harbour Publishing.


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