One of the principles of permaculture is to observe and learn. The more you observe your environment, the more you’ll learn about what plants thrive best where, the role that some plants are providing and about the life that different eco-systems attract or detract. Here’s a few observations I’d like to share that’ll create some guilt-free labour saving time.
Give up digging and give up staking
I used to have a victorian gutter that run through my garden that took the water run off from the street out on to a back field. However, a lot of grit, sand, litter and dirt from the street would clog it up. I’d leave it for a while and the worms would do their work, creating a reasonable soil to use in the garden. When planting, I didn’t dig. I’d use a mix of all those Amazon boxes, this soil and autumn leaf drop to shovel around the roots of the plants, including trees. Then I’d sit back and wait. Even a plum tree situated in a very strong wind tunnel, destined to do badly, didn’t. It remained upright, and in its first year provided an excellent yield. Incidentally, I companion-planted strawberries around its base to provide ground cover and discourage grass growth. These also did well, but the birds got to them first!
Give up mowing
Longer grass provides shelter and egg-laying opportunities for the insects on which birds and other wildlife feed. Providing areas of grass of different heights, which are cut at different times of the year, optimises food potential for nature.
Give up weeding
Instead, chop and drop. If you’ve ever tried to pull a dandelion out by its root, you’ll know how hard it is to get rid of weeds. But wildlife love your weeds. When they get out of hand, chop and drop. Cut instead of pull them. Leave them as mulch to help with soil building.
Give up sweeping
Leave the autumn leaves to litter your patio floor. During the winter they provide a home for insects which birds love. Blackbirds, dunnocks, blue and great tits and a field mouse have found winter fodder on our messy patio. It’s too cold for us to sit outside, so why not give a home to wildlife?
Give up window cleaning
This my newest and most exciting of discoveries. If you leave your windows be, the spiders move in and create web traps. I’ve never seen a long-tailed tit before in my life, but a pair of long-tailed tits love visiting our living room window picking out the tiny gnats and midges that have been trapped in the webs we’ve failed to wash away.
I’d rather replace hard labour with the joy I feel when watching the living ecosystem I’ve created without even trying.