General, Knowledge, Membership

What is Permaculture?

Was ist Permakultur ? - Garten | What is permaculture ? - Garden

Permaculture is a holistic, sustainable concept of agriculture that goes beyond the principle of an organic garden. A permaculture garden harnesses cycles of nature, intervening only where necessary. By maintaining the natural ecological balance, a larger and tastier harvest can be achieved with less effort. Permaculture means working in harmony with nature and treating it with care.

Permaculture goes beyond gardening

While permaculture was initially developed as a concept of permanent agriculture, today it goes far beyond gardening. While sharing the same approaches, it is more seen as a life philosophy that cuts across all areas of life.

"Permaculture is a creative design approach, that responds to a world of dwindling energy and resource availability."
David Holmgren
"The philosophy behind permaculture is one of working with, rather than against, nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless action; of looking at systems in all their functions, rather than asking only one yield of them; and allowing systems to demonstrate their own evolutions.""
Bill Mollison
„Permaculture is a dance with nature, in which nature leads.“
Bill Mollison

How did permaculture evolve?

The concept of permaculture was developed in the 1970s by Bill Mollison, the father of permaculture, and David Holmgren. However, the beginnings of permaculture go back further. Bill grew up in a small village in Tasmania, Australia, which he described „could have existed [like this] as early as the 11th century.“ For a living, he and the people in the village went hunting, caught fish, grew food, and baked bread. Each of them had several „jobs,“ no one a „real“ one. Bill dropped out of school at the age of 15 after his father died, to help out in the family bakery. He spent much time at sea and in the Tasmanian rainforest/bush. In 1954 he joined the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) to research native plant and animal species. Over the next few years, he witnessed more and more parts of the natural world in his homeland being destroyed. Fish stocks and large parts of the bush began to die. Out of anger and rage at the industrial agriculture that was causing so much damage, Bill decided to develop an agricultural design that did not destroy soils and the environment. The cornerstone of this design was his observations in nature. For example, he observed that plants naturally form communities to benefit each other. In an endeavor to „develop some mental discipline,“ he entered graduate studies in biogeography in 1966.. After graduation, he remained at the University of Tasmania and taught as a lecturer in the field of environmental psychology. While there, in 1974, he met student David Holmgren and began working with him to analyze land use patterns that worked in harmony with nature. They also took into account Aboriginal observations and traditions, as well as insights from the Japanese Masanobu Fukuoka and his revolutionary „do-nothing“ farming method. In 1978, Bill and David published „Permaculture One,“ introducing permaculture to the world. For his work, Bill received the Right Livelihood Award in 1981. Originally developed only for agriculture, Bill and David expanded permaculture to other areas of life shortly after their book was published.

The three ethical principles of permaculture

Ethische Prinzipen der Permakultur | Ethical principles of permaculture

1. Earth Care: Care for the Earth

The symbol of the young plant represents organic growth. All life forms on earth have value and must be respected for their existence and purpose, even if it is difficult for us to see their value (I’m thinking here of slugs, for example…). We are dependent on nature and its resources, which is why the preservation of life on earth is so important.

2. People Care: Care for the People

The symbol of the two people with the heart in the middle represents the need for companionship. Companionship includes yourself, your family and friends, but also society in general. Be caring and take responsibility, also for your own life. Moreover, together, the best solutions can be found.

3. Fair Share: Set Limits and Redistribute Surplus

The symbol of the cake is a sign of consuming consciously and sharing surplus with others or nature.

How can I use permaculture in my kitchen garden?

  • Observe and recognize correlations in nature and use them to garden efficiently and sustainably
  • Make use of cycles in order to save work

Mixed cropping: Plants protect each other and promote each other’s growth. Plants with different nutrient demands do not leach the soil one-sidedly, as is the case with monocultures.

Mulch: Ground cover protects the soil, reduces evaporation and watering intervals, and adds nutrients to the soil as it decomposes.

  • Use and value diversity, diversity is the basis for resilience
  • Choose your plants consciously
Mischkultur & Pflanzenwahl | Mixed cropping & Plant selection

Mixed cropping: Diversity not only pleases our eyes but also our plants. Mixed cropping repels pests, attracts beneficial insects, and contributes to species conservation.

Plant selection: Choose native plants that are accustomed to your climate. Robust and proven varieties reduce your maintenance needs and promote diversity.

  • Reduce waste and allow leftovers to reenter the cycle
  • Reduce „unnatural“ materials (e.g. plastic) that are difficult to recycle
Kompost | Compost

Compost: Recycling organic waste is a wonderful way to give back to the soil what was taken from it. Our leftovers turn into humus, a nutrient solution for plant growth, and the cycle is complete.

  • Sow or cultivate only as much as you need
  • Use the available (limited) space optimally
Square Foot Gardening

Square foot gardening: Cultivation method alternative to row cropping, which is optimally suited for small areas due to closer planting. Only as much as needed is sown and planted.

  • Buy only what you really need and use durable materials to save the environment and your wallet
Nachhaltige Materialien | Sustainable materials

Soil: Mix your own substrate. Then you know what is contained, save costs and have a good soil that you can use for a long time.

Fertilizer: Use biological fertilizer, which you can apply universally.

Planter Box & Accessories: Go for natural, durable materials. If you use plastic, choose wisely. Avoid PVC, which releases plasticizers and quickly becomes brittle.

  • Prevent diseases and pests by strengthening your plants

Plant protection: Create optimal conditions by using sufficiently large pots, mechanical barriers (e.g., crop protection nets), and organic strengtheners.

„Substrate“: Usually industrially produced mixture of various mineral and organic materials used for growing and cultivating plants.

Hi, I’m Lisa from Permapot. I’ve been growing my own vegetables in my small urban garden and on my terrace for 4 years now. With Permapot I would like to make it easier for you to get started with urban gardening!


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