Permaculture garden

The sloping land around the old fortified farmhouse in the French Ardennes my husband I and moved into a few years ago, showed remnants of a forgotten vegetable plot. It also hosts a small orchard. While renovating the house we took to rejuvenating the vegetable patch as well. Residing at a sometimes windy hill we surrounded it with a protective wall – a permaculture kitchen garden came to life including raised beds, a small greenhouse and walls covered with a variety of espalier apple and pear trees.

Unlike the deep digging in my creative development consultancy, permaculture gardening rejects the notion of disturbing the soil. It is based on surprisingly basic principles. It is a lot about what not to do actually, boiling down to no unnecessary interfering with the soil: no monoculture, no digging, no pesticides, no artificial fertilizers, no throwing away inedible parts of plants and roots. Sowing and planting on layers of compost and mulch leaves the busy and vital life underneath the garden’s surface as intact as possible. Out of it a diverse harvest grows towards the sunlight.

Permaculture evolves around creating an organic recycling system which celebrates orchestrated chaos and diversity. Every bit of vegetable and fruit is used, if not on our plate than at least as mulch to nourish a next generation of biological produce. With a bit of beginner’s luck one has a flourishing plot within a single season. To really turn it into a successful micro eco-system the garden has to adapt to climate change and include respectful water management. To optimize its practice and results asks for more knowledge and understanding. To decipher ones own specific garden, its soil, its strengths and challenges takes a few years of trial and error. And most likely unpredictable weather elements will keep having its say, however hard you garden and plan. Gardener’s joy and gardener’s sorrow come with it, which make it all the more interesting.

Gained knowledge and practice about permaculture gardening are continuously exchanged with other garden enthusiasts in the neighbourhood and further away. Guests and residents are welcome to learn, enjoy and add to our permaculture gardening and use the vegetable and fruit for home-made dishes. Concise Permaculture Workshops and Edible Nature Walks are offered on request.

Gardeners, I think, dream bigger dreams than emperors.
Mary Cant-well