Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Part two: Permaculture Principles

Hey there, thanks for joining us for the second part of our series laying out some principles of permaculture design. Check out the first post here if you missed it.
 5. Energy cycling and recycling A forest cycles nutrients from the soil into the plants, who then drop leaves, which serve first as much, then break down into food for worms and microorganisms, who convert it into plain soil nutrients, ready to be cycled back into the roots of a plant. No need to bring in straw or fertilizer or fish emulsion.
 6. Using and accelerating natural plant succession to establish favorable sites and soils Bare soil will naturally go through the phases of forest succession. An example: bare soil is overtaken by moss and lichen, which is overtaken by annual grasses, which is seceeds into perennial grasses and plants, then moves into sun-loving tall trees, and eventually into a diverse and varied ecosystem with annuals and perennials, sun- and shade-lovers, that cooperates and competes to partition resources. Each step builds soil, depositing different things. Eventually, another disturbance will create another patch of bare soil, and the process will begin again.
 7. Diversity of beneficial species for a productive, interactive system Biodiversity betters survival chances and encourages hearty traits like drought and disease resistance. Even grasslands, which can look pretty monotonous to us, are teeming with species of native grasses, critters, and microbes.
The tulip poplar is a great centerpiece of some biodiverse systems in our neck of the woods
 8. Use of the edge and natural patterns for best effect. At the edge of the forest and the grassland, there's huge opportunity for biodiversity, species that thrive in either setting can interact and flourish. Indeed, many humans thrive in communities built at the edge of the city and the country, looking for the best of both worlds. Using the edge is my favorite permaculture principle, it applies to my life all the time and in many ways. Patterns in nature are simply based on the laws of physics, and they do things like distribute resources and energy in a way that's often astonishingly simple and effective. These patterns -for example, a river's meander, the spiral of a conch shell, or the branching pattern of a leaf's veins- can be valuable design tools for building systems that work.

Thanks for checking out our overview of these design principles. Remember, these are principles that people have put together from their observations of nature, and they're often tweaked or reinterpreted depending on who you speak with. There is no offical permaculture anything, it's just a word that people use for a collective of attitudes and ethos, design tools and outcomes.

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