I used my kids’ craft supplies and a few toy trees to illustrate a permaculture planting method. Creating sustainable systems like this combine perennials and annuals to create space for beneficial insects, birds, and wildlife to live. We can hold water and retain moisture. We can reduce pest pressure this way while maximizing our real estate for harvests. Grow up, not out.
In this demonstration, I start by showing a conventionally planted plot of strawberries. But how can we maximize this space to increase yields, retain water and relieve pressure from pests naturally?
We start by building swales or raised planting mounds from stones and other organic matter. From there we top off our mounds with soil. Next we create a water catchment system such as a fresh rainwater pond and start adding our overstory trees. In this case, I've chosen chestnuts. Next we plant midstory trees (smaller fruiting trees) and then introduce strawberries as our groundcover. Other understory crops that thrive with strawberries (such as asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, lettuce, tomato, peppers and herbs) are interplanted. Bushes such as gooseberries, elderberries and canberries are wonderful choices too. By growing vertically and interplanting companion crops, we have created food forest.
Angela is the farmer and content creator behind Axe & Root Homestead® LLC. This historic six-acre permaculture farm is home to two Clydesdale horses, ten honeybee hives, five sheep, two guardian dogs, barn cats and a flock of 40 geese and ducks. The farm produces maple syrup, fruit from a small orchard and loads of garden produce for consumption, preservation and donation to the local food pantry.
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