Learning about Permaculture
In my ongoing research into how to be a homesteader, I came across a method of growing food that has really caught my interest. Mainly because it just makes so much sense! It’s called Permaculture, and the central idea is that of a “food forest” that is self-sustaining. I love it because it is a type of gardening that uses vertical space. When trying to homestead on two acres, this is a very impactful method of growing food. While it takes longer to establish, the end result is a garden that grows a ton of food. It is also much less labor-intensive than traditional gardens. This is a good thing, as homesteading is labor-intensive, and anything that reduces the workload is automatically rated as awesome!
I’m so excited about this, I enrolled in a Permaculture Design Certification course. I want to learn it, do it, and eventually teach it to others. I think this is an amazing solution, not only for homesteaders, but for any backyard or urban gardener who wants to grow an abundance of good, healthy food.
My First Tree Guild
I’m jumping way ahead, but I decided to play around with a Tree Guild. I wanted to see what I could come up with. A Tree guild is the building block of the “Food Forest” in permaculture. The biggest plant in the guild is always a tree, usually that puts forth some sort of fruit, like a plum tree, or has other desirable traits (Maple syrup, anyone?) Then you use the vertical space under the tree for more plants that serve to help the tree in some way, or provide food. Sometimes a plant can serve many roles in a Guild. From theresilencyinstitute.com, here is a diagram of a Tree Guild:
Now, this may sound kind of girly, but not only do I want a guild that is going to grow a lot of food, I want it to be pretty. As in pretty enough that the neighbors won’t fuss about my unkept-looking yard if I drop this right next to the driveway. I realize this won’t be a priority for everyone who embraces permaculture, but I think it can be done, so why not try?
So here’s my first attempt at Guild plant selection. I chose these plants because they do well in Oklahoma, zone 7, where I live. So if you’re in a different zone you may have to make some substitutions. This Guild has Chickasaw Plum Tree for the fruit tree, 2 herbs, one for pest deterrence, and one for mulch, three vegetables, one of which is a nitrogen fixer, and plants that will attract pollinators.
All the plants flower in pink, purple, or white, so this will be a very pretty guild! It’s also a good front yard guild because a Chickasaw plum tree only grows to about 18 feet and won’t take over the entire yard. This tree, however, is prone to suckers, so pruning is a must to keep the tree form. Otherwise, plant it along a fence-line and let it be a shrub. These plums make the best plum jam ever, IMHO.
Plants in the Plum Tree Guild