When we moved to our off grid home in Canada's subarctic, we had no idea how difficult it would be to start a vegetable garden. Poor soil conditions, tons of bedrock, and a uniquely compressed garden season were, well, challenging. That's why I started looking into permaculture design principles.
It was tough to find information on permaculture back then. However, that's changed in the past year. Permaculture ideas are popping up everywhere as more families turn to growing their own food.
When I first wrote this post, few gardening websites covered permaculture. Now, permaculture sites and low-maintenance garden sites have popped up everywhere!
If you struggle to grow vegetables in a traditional backyard garden, consider learning about permaculture design principles and basics. Then, visit these permaculture sites for beginners.
What is Permaculture?
Permaculture is an ethical gardening method that copies patterns found in nature. This is called biomimicry.
People who follow permaculture basics also try to limit how much they disrupt or harm the earth. So if it's doable, permaculture activities should actually improve the earth. This idea supports the basic permaculture ideals of earth care, people care, and fair share.
What is a Microclimate?
Permaculture design principles depend heavily on using microclimates, which is pretty different from the idea of carefully planned and landscaped kitchen gardens.
A microclimate creates pockets of weather conditions not typical of your area. These microclimates let you grow vegetables, fruits, and herbs that might not usually do well in your gardening zone- and they might surprise you.
For example, we live very far north.
This means we face the unique challenges of northern gardening. Our gardening zone is 0A. Yes, there really is a "zero" gardening zone. (FYI, we are at about 62 degrees north in Canada's Northwest Territories.)
We have one acre of land overlooking a lake. Our property is a mixture of bedrock, clay, and sandy soil. Yet, with our ongoing family composting efforts, we've improved the soil quality over the years. We've even had topsoil trucked into our off-grid garden for an added boost.
We're experimenting with several microclimates on the property. Large bedrock and almost 24-hour sunlight in June and July make "hot spots" for typical warm-weather crops like watermelons. Birch trees offer shade for veggies like chard and potatoes.
Permaculture is a Long-Term Commitment
Today, there's growing interest in low-maintenance backyard gardens, and more people want to learn how to start homesteading.
This offers an excellent opportunity to practice permaculture. However, be warned. Permaculture takes years to really work well.
Prepare to make some planting errors and vegetable garden harvesting mistakes. So you need to commit to your gardening activities - and your property. Apply permaculture design principles with your long-term goals in mind.
And then you'll get the chance to enjoy a high-yield, low-maintenance vegetable garden.
Permaculture Design Principles: Best Blogs for Beginners
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- 5 Vegetable Garden Harvesting Mistakes & How to Fix Them
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- How Much to Plant to Feed Your Family