Permaculture – Bringing Together The Layers And The Zones

On the outer fringes of your landscape, there may be areas of wilderness. How are we to tend to these wild patches in a way that fosters increase in edibles in zones 4 and 5? And how do we maximize our food production in our first three zones? Using our permaculture principles, we can increase the bounty of wild plants already on the land and introduce native species to the mix.
Simple measures, such as sowing seeds or transplanting the plants themselves, are easy to do. Burning, pruning and coppicing wild plants can help to achieve greater food productivity, edibility, and diversity.

It is tempting to destroy the wild areas surrounding your gardens to make room for cash producing crops. However, while they will not make up the bulk of your farmed calorie intake, remember that these wild plants are more nutritious than their domestic counterparts. Wild plants have more fibre, antioxidants, fatty acids, phytonutrients (which give great protection from disease) and vitamins. They will often have better flavour and a more vibrant colour too.

Let us remind ourselves of the seven layers in permaculture:

1. Canopy/Tall Tree Layer
2. Sub-Canopy/Large Shrub Layer
3. Shrub Layer
4. Herbaceous Layer
5. Ground-cover/Creeper Layer
6. Underground Layer
7. Vertical/Climber Layer

When starting a wild food forest, we look to the seven layers and apply them mainly to the zones. In discussing these layers, you will learn about the natural history of the area and the edible and medicinal plants within it. Let us take the Picasso food forest in Parma, Italy as a case study of the seven layers.

1. Canopy/Tall Tree Layer

This is the highest layer of the seven. Timber trees, nut trees, and nitrogen-fixing trees are common in large food forests. In the Picasso food forest, this layer is populated with 10 Acer genus that provide organic matter for mulching in the autumn. Cherry and apple trees are going to be added to the canopy area soon as well.

2. Sub-Canopy/Large Shrub Layer

This layer is populated by apple, apricot, plum, peach, pear, persimmon, fig, pomegranate, jujube and other fruit trees.

3. Shrub Layer

The third lowest area, or shrub layer, is mainly populated by shrubs of red and blackcurrant, buckthorn, goumi, josta, gooseberry, blackberry, goji berry, chokeberries and raspberry.

4. Herbaceous Layer

Populated by a diverse variety of plants, the herbaceous layer consists of herbaceous and medicinal plants. It includes artichokes, asparagus, beans, beets, sunflowers and brassicas as well as plants that provide habitats and food for beneficial insects.

5. Ground-cover/Creeper Layer

The ground cover function is performed by many of the plants in the previous layer, as well as most of the plants in this fifth tier. It includes mint, lemon balm, strawberries, valerian, borage, yarrow, absinthium and oregano.

6. Underground Layer

Populating the area under the soil, this layer includes garlic, onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, topinambur, horseradish, burdock, chicory, valerian and Chinese yam. It also contains fungi like mushrooms, which support the health of the ecosystem.

7. Vertical/Climber Layer

Home to some of the more far-expanding plants, climbers in this layer include hop, grape, kiwi, cinnamon vine, and running beans.

Conclusion

Permaculture is a philosophy; a set of guiding principals. It is a way of life. Permaculture is the act of tending to the natural order of the land, becoming integrated with it in the simplest and purest way possible. It is a system, one which mimics the natural ecosystems we see in nature for the benefit of all. Permaculture is the balance between water and soil- the balance between nature and us.

View from open window to the garden.

Picture this: you awake one day in your home; the rising sun is making its way through the windows and up the adjacent wall, slowly creeping up like the beans in the food forest. The smell of fresh flowers, basil and tarragon floats from room to room. You arise and take a stroll through your forest. Your hands lightly brush the leaves of the herb garden and you can see how full the rain barrels are.

As you walk on through your flowering garden, you pick a ripe lemon from a tree for your morning cup of tea. Your stroll takes you further afield to check on the sheep and goats; they are serenely basking and grazing in the morning sun. You stop walking and take in the beauty of your surroundings. “This is where I live!” you think to yourself. Bees are buzzing, unconcerned with your presence in they world, flying from flower to flower to pollinate the garden. You begin to venture into the deep forest when you hear a crack. You turn and meet eyes with a deer. It stares at you for a heartbeat before it turns and runs. You turn and walk back, picking up some eggs from the chickens on your way. You pluck a sprig of parsley before returning inside for breakfast.

This beautiful vision is within your grasp with the help of permaculture. Take the time to plan, plan, and plan. A well-developed, organized plan that takes into account all aspects of your garden will result in a beautiful environment that is simple and efficient to maintain. Investigate permaculture; use all the available resources. Go out and find permaculture gardens, walk in them, and talk to the people who maintain them about your designs. Anyone with experience, such as local experts or permaculture gardeners, can help advise you on topics such as soil, water, and wise plant layouts and systems. Constantly seek our information to educate yourself on the natural order that we so often take for granted. Take a walk in the wilderness. Sit in silence and observe.

It does not matter whether you have a sizeable plot of land, fresh to build on, or you are in a second floor condo. Look at your surroundings, apply the principles, think about the zones and the layers, plan, observe and make permaculture a part of your life. Your permaculture journey starts today!

For More From: World Wide Permaculture

Website: http://worldwidepermaculture.com/

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Originally Published: http://worldwidepermaculture.com/bringing-together-the-layers-and-the-zones/

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