I write this blog about my travels, food and gardens. The name bmpermie says it all really,”bm”” is Blue Mountains west of Sydney where I live and “permie”is short for permaculture which is the design principles by which I try to live.
I got interested in Permaculture in the early 1980s because it made sense to me as a system of designing sustainable habitats. I went on a couple of bush walks as a teenager in Tasmania led by Bill Mollison, a larger than life character who was the co founder with David Holmgren, and for a long time the public face of permaculture.
Permaculture is much more than mulched gardens, it is a design system based on the ethics of care for the earth, care for people and share the surplus. The 12 design principles were set out by David Holgren in Permaculture Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability 2002
“Permaculture is a philosophy of working with rather than against nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather protracted and thoughtless labor; and looking at plants and animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single product system” Bill Mollison.
When I moved to the Blue Mountains I did a Permaculture Design Certificate and set about applying the principles. I have a double block in the upper mountains where I grow vegetables, fruit trees, berries, herbs and keep chooks. The winters are cold so I can grow apples, pears and raspberries but by using the microclimates I can grow citrus trees on my deck and in frost protected areas. I grow herbs on my deck and also lots of vegetables as they are near to the door for easy picking, some vegetables will grow in pots before the soil has warmed up enough to plant in the garden and it is easier to protect from snails, and other pests. The principles: Obtain a Yield and Use and Value Diversity.
The chooks provide me with eggs, occasional meat, manure for compost, scratch up the garden beds prior to planting and entertain my grandchildren. . I move my chooks between 3 different beds so they clean up the remains of the crop, keep the weeds and pests down and manure the soil. The principle:Produce no waste.
While I have town water I can store 20 000 litres of water in three tanks from my roof. I use this to water my garden, and in the washing machine and toilet. I collect the grey water from the washing machine and shower which I have plumbed on to the exotic section of my garden. The principle: Use and value renewable resources.
I have a north facing block so my vegetable gardens are placed to make the most of the sun, close to the house for ease of access and can be watered by a gravity fed hose from a water tank. I grow passionfruit, berries and grapes along the fences to make he most of vertical spaces. Principle: Use edges and value the marginal.
My house faces north and is well insulated so that the sun heats the house even in the winter and heating is only required on cloudy days and night. I put shade cloth on the pergola in summer to provide outdoor living space and keep the house cool. This is removed in April to allow the winter sun into the house. The principle: Conserve and store energy.
My grandchildren enjoy my chooks, the fact that I have ponds and interesting spaces in my garden in which to play.
I try to encourage an awareness of nature and care for the environment with them and gave my children’s families a worm farm for Christmas. It is always hard to know what to buy when they get so many presents, the worm farm seemed to be a hit.
I am particularly interested in the idea of gardening for seniors. So many people give up gardening as they get older but it seems to me it is possible to adapt gardens to make it more manageable to changing circumstances, death of one partner, our energy descent, health problems and downsizing. Principle: Creatively use and respond to change.
As many people have said to me “I can’t grow vegetables due to ……” it could be poor soil, shade, not enough sun, bad knees etc etc i started taking photographs of all the places I saw vegetables being grown that were not where we might expect. I have put some of these on my blog
This article was original posted in the blog Eco Parents