Monthly Archives: October 2013

An Old Irish Blessing

May the road rise to meet you

May the wind be always at your back

May the sun shine warm upon your face

May the rain fall soft upon your fields

and until we meet again , May the Lord

hold you in the palm of his hand.

( for my dear mother)

Balcony Permaculture: a short video

In about two and a half minutes a man describes some ideas from the book ¨Sepp Holtzwer´s Permaculture¨ by, yep, you guessed it, Sepp Holtzwer.  You might be able to use some of these techniques in your balcony permaculture garden.

Learning permaculture: What,Why,How and Where

What is permaculture?

According to Toby Hemenway in his book Gaia´s Garden ( 2009 second ed.)  the definition of permaculture is a set of techniques and principles for designing sustainable human settlements. As I understand it , permaculture is simply optimization  through interconnection. For example, instead of using a pesticide to kill insects harming a plant , a permaculture option would be to place a second plant that is a natural repellant of the pest alongside  the first plant . This is just a simple example, because permaculture related to growing plants takes many more factors into consideration.

Permaculture was co-created in the mid 70´s by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren on the Australian island state of Tasmania. They were looking for alternatives to the rapid changes in industrial agricultural methods, such as monocrops using pesticides, and other toxic practices. In 1978 Mollison published Permaculture One and they continued to develop the practice as it spread across the world and was further developed by many others.

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Why learn it?

For me there are so many reasons ….. ecological ..reduction of waste and carbon footprint…organic food at my doorstep…. so much to learn….fascinating….complex yet simple….ethical…. a relatively new concept…something I have been wanting to explore since I first read about it several years ago….I love plants…. etc.

Probably there are more reasons but these popped into my head immediately.

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How to learn it.

Gaia´s Garden,  A Guide to Home Scale Permaculture, ( 2009 second ed.)  by Toby Hemenway, is considered a classic in the field and I think it´s a good place to start out.  This book explains the global concepts and principles of permaculture,  but focuses mainly on how to create home scale permaculture gardens. It´s easy to find many websites and blogs about permaculture and permaculture practitioners  around the word offer on-site courses (but attending a course is not an option for me). With  these and other resources and most importantly of all,  with practical experience, errors and successes,  I am on the path to learning about permaculture.

Where will I practice it?

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My permaculture garden will be on the balcony and later on the roof of my apartment, in a costal town north of Tarragona , Spain.  The balcony faces south but well is protected from the wind and extreme summer sun by its brick walls and awning. It has a good amount of sun the rest of the year.

The rooftop will require more permaculture skills because although the winter temperature is mild  it´s very, very windy. Wind  evaporates water, causes soil erosion and  and may even destroy plants. But one of the core ideas of permaculture is to design a garden that takes into account harsh or unfavorable conditions, and converts them into a useful part of the  design.

Most of my friends and family live in the city of Barcelona, and if any of them are interested in creating a balcony permaculture garden , maybe we can share the experience. Besides being fun, each of us could bring distinct ideas to the project. I will let you know how it is going. I am in no rush. I plant to study and design over the fall and winter, and do the main implementation in early spring.

Oh, one more thing. I am hardly going to spend any money on this. I intend to reuse materials and exchange materials and plants for the most part. I am really looking forward to the challenge.

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