Pondering Permaculture

OK, so here’s the *real* Sunday post that I wrote. The post that I hadn’t planned on writing, the product of which is entirely based on my thoughts and muddled meanderings of my mind.

Actually, the Berocca seems to be helping. Well, that and the fact that I’ve been sleeping 10+ hours each night. I feel much more zen-like (for me), and less like my eyes are about to fall out of my head and my mind is swimming in a fog. I’m starting to feel as though I have energy and that’s allowing me to keep busy and get on with things.

I spent a good couple of hours in the greenhouse last Saturday, tidying and pulling great handfuls of spaghetti-like bindweed roots and nettles up. I think I’ve just about got it under control so the next job will be to get the greenhouse staging in situ and just give my old seed trays and pots a quick going over. I tidied up a bit around the outside of the greenhouse too and managed to find 20+ ladybirds overwintering under various rotting leaves and branches, all of which have been meticulously transferred to a new abode in my warm(er), dry greenhouse. There are many escape routes should they wish to relocate again, but having had a quick check on them this morning I think they’re happy where they are.

This, I guess, is good news for my natural pest control next year. The fact that so many have survived the snow and harsh frosts means that we should hopefully have lots of breeding ladybirds; I’m never particularly precious or fastidious about tidying up over autumn and winter and I think this stands me, and wildlife critter pals, in good stead.

In fact, it’s got me thinking a lot about permaculture. By ‘home farming’ standards, I think we have a relatively small amount of land here – although much bigger than your average suburban garden. But I still find it so hard to manage every year. I don’t want to be working *against* it all of the time. Yes, we’d like to use it socially, but all that means is that we have some lawn and maybe the Mediterranean-esque eating area where the sun shines all day in summer and the soil is particularly sandy.

I’d like to develop a system whereby I’m merely managing rather than having to hack things down to the ground each year and despair when it all goes a bit t**s-up come summer. I think I just have to look at it from a different angle. After all, I’m aiming for a productive garden that encourages wildlife… in my mind’s eye, that is an attractive garden. I’m not neat, I’m not particularly fussy or preened, and neither should my outside space be that way.

So I’m thinking of investing in a permaculture book that’ll help me understand it better – and maybe it’ll make us look at the way we run our house and our lives too. For instance, our old car is slowly but surely falling apart and I’m not sure how long it has left. So our resolution is to walk everywhere within this town, cutting out a lot of short (expensive) journeys. Small but significant changes, you know?

I just have this feeling that the way things are going at the moment, there’s much more reason to be even more self-sufficient and rely on ourselves or local businesses. I’ve also noticed that there are a lot of films, tv programmes and just a general interest surrounding the Edwardian era, too. I wonder whether it’s because there’s a general feeling of austerity, self-reliance, (Britishness even?), self-reflection or perhaps social and political activism that’s harking back to that time. It’s strange… Hmmm.

The times, they are indeed a’changin’… or recycling…

There goes my brain, mumble mumble ramble…


  1. Know what you mean re managing space. My plot last year had lush green grass paths running all over the place dividing up the beds. Looked pretty but took literally all day to mow and keep tidy. Going to rotorvate top to bottom this year and just grow veg rather than recreate the gardens of Versailles…

    Reckon people like watching the Victorian and Edwardian farm programmes for the same reason they watch Larkrise to Candleford – just better, less hurried and somehow more honest times when people seemed simpler, people more genuine and less greedy for ‘stuff’.

    Maybe that’s why we all read or write blogs about ducking out of the rat-race too, even if it’s just bit by bit…

  2. I would recommend Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway. (find it with Google books and you can read quite a lot of it)
    I started using permaculture principles in my allotment garden last year. Only small bits here and there, trying to figure out beneficial structures in plant and animal life. I’ll never be a neat gardener and fortunately the rules on this allotment aren’t too severe. And I’ll still have seperate beds for lettuce and carrots and things. But having some square meters on my plot that do not need tending much is very nice.

  3. Permaculture in a Nutshell by Patrick Whitefield is a very good book to start with, it is only very short but covers lots of different ideas and introduces the subject of permaculture and how it can work at lots of levels, from an inner-city flat to a full scale farm.

  4. I agree with Poppy, Permaculture in a Nutshell is a good place to start. You may well find your library has one or two books on the subject, too and if they don’t you may be able to order a book from another library in your area for a small fee.

  5. Louise Pen y Graig says

    both the recommended books are good. I find Gaia’s garden really inspirational although as it’s an American book some of the plants he talks about wouldn’t do so well here. That combined with Patrick Whitefield’s book would be great. I’d also consider to subscribing to Pemaculture Magazine and looking at the Permaculture Association Website. We’ve had a smallholding for over 20 years now and I wish I’d applied permaculture principles from the start! for many people (including me) a Permaculture Design Course is a life changing event


  1. […] Pondering Permaculture « The Smallest Smallholding smallestsmallholding.com/pondering-permaculture/ – view page – cached OK, so here’s the *real* Sunday post that I wrote. The post that I hadn’t planned on writing, the product of which is entirely based on my thoughts and muddled meanderings of my mind. […]

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