To know the place you live on
To know the place can, for many, be an entirely new way of looking at both nature and the process of growing things. Therefore, the first step is to get to know nature again – for real, using permaculture as a tool for planning gardens and cultivations.
We have already started to notice that the climate is changing, but we don’t truly know how our surroundings will look in the future. To still be prepared for what may come, and to cope with different situations in the best way, permaculture and its tools can come well in hand. Listed below are some possible challenges and how to solve them.
The challenges of our climate
Due to weather changes, new situations arise such as:
⇾ Changed seasonal behaviour
⇾ More powerful rainfall combined with colder weather conditions when it comes to rain, hail, and snow
⇾ More and bigger floods
⇾ Erosion of roads and soil
⇾ Heavier temperature fluctuations
⇾ Heavier winds
⇾ Longer dry spells
⇾ Lack of drinking water
⇾ Increased crop failure
⇾ More disease and pest attacks
⇾ Reduced number of pollinators
⇾ Harvest loss when fruit trees and berry bushes are first tricked into flowering too early, only to freeze when temperatures quickly drop again.
⇾ Freezing of plants due to reduced amounts of snow
⇾ Deeper ground frost due to persistent cold
⇾ Increased sea levels
Proposed solutions to climate challenges
Here are some suggestions for solutions that can increase the ability to handle the changes we face.
⇾ To prioritize small, simple, sustainable, and dynamic solutions that are human-friendly, hand-made, and easily accessible
⇾ Creating as diverse solutions as possible in all areas; food supply, water, cultivation, energy, transport, and so on
⇾ To create different buffers and protections with microclimates, for example; greenhouses of various kinds, wind shelters, ponds, stone and rock formations, snow protection on both roofs and in vulnerable places
⇾ To collaborate and build up local networks to gather knowledge and experience on-site
⇾ To increase your own – and the local – self-sufficiency in every possible way, thereby increasing readiness to handle different types of crises and rapid changes
⇾ Finally, it is wise to plan for one zone colder, and two zones warmer
Observing nature to know the place
Indigenous people often say that modern folk does not sit still long enough, or often enough to see and to understand. Unfortunately, it is quite right, but when you start with permaculture, you have to learn the art of being still again. Observation is fundamental and cannot be replaced by any other knowledge. In the beginning, you need to spend a lot of time observing your plot, both as a whole – and in every detail. To pay attention in different ways to what is happening in different places, what is growing where, how the wind blows, where hot and cold areas are, where the sun and shade hits, and so on. If you are new to a place, it is best to let this observation part take time, preferably a whole year; to experience all seasons. First, you start by just observing and collecting information, not thinking, analyzing, or deciding.
The more time you devote to observation, the more knowledge you acquire about what happens – large and small. Maybe there is a corner that feels downright impossible. Take some extra time to discover this location’s conditions with wind, water, sun, soil – and that which is already growing there. By studying nature, what has happened and is happening, it will become easier to find the solution. Over time, so many different events have been gathered that one can, with reasonable probability, be able to predict what will happen in a place in the future. It is then that that impossible space can suddenly become an opportunity.
Compare different environments
With a new-found approach, one can then compare one’s own plot with other similar areas in the vicinity. Where weather and precipitation are about the same – since it provides additional knowledge. It can be a plot, a park or a wild nature site that resembles your space, except with other details and solutions that can be helpful in the planning stage.
A pleasant way of learning more is to talk to gardeners in the neighbourhood about how they have designed their garden, what experiences they have in regards to weather, wind, and so on.
To learn from nature’s solutions, it is good to go out in the forest or other wild areas. There; you sit down, look around, and think about what you see. From where do the nutrition and water come? Are there different plants in the sun as compared to the shade? Where is it windy, and where is it still? Which animals are there? Then compare all this with the conditions on your plot. After observing for a while, I am sure that you will agree that nature is far wiser than us. Because in this place everything works without anyone coming in and watering, weeding, and generally making a fuss.
To know the place by experience nature
Some things cannot be learned simply by seeing – they must be experienced, with all your senses. A place can tell you a lot about what would thrive there, by taking the time to experience the area during different seasons. If you think the place feels warm, cold, windy, snug, or exposed; the plants will likely feel the same. If you get a certain feel for a place, you should trust that feeling and combine it with what you have seen and heard. You will then have a solid foundation for how the place should be used.