Permaculture Design/How to/Creating a natural balance
Some main points
- Don't panic! Take your time.
- Remember the forest & how it keeps a balance. The web of life. Take a walk in one whenever you need a refresher course.
- Everything gardens.
- Observe what’s eating what & when in your garden.
- Let them eat some! What can you accept?
- Plagues are indicators of gross imbalance.
- Too many pests? No ~ too few predators , or poor plant health, or soil health, or care of plants, or selection of plants, or lack of diversity, above & below ground (of animals, plants, habitats, insects & birds)
Respect insects we need them in our gardens
What do they do? ~ fertilise, aerate, decompose, add nutrients, provide food for birds, animals & other insects (us too if only we would try them!), prune ( tribal gardeners have used insects to increase the yields of their crops by putting insects on their plants at certain times!), destroy weak plants & so help with natural selection, help plants through symbiotic relationships.
Plants can protect themselves
Some secrete enzymes when chewed which affects the insects digestion &/or their ability to reproduce. Others produce chemicals which smell like the alarm signals put out by insects being eaten. Trees in Africa being eaten by animals send signals to neighbouring trees & those trees secrete substances that make them unpalatable!
- Create a seed bank in your soil. Let plants spread their seed & select the strongest.
- Use your own instincts to help you to see what’s needed in your garden.
Some plants to encourage predators
- Let carrot, radish, parsnips, fennel & brassicas flower, even if you aren’t collecting seed.
- Phacelia tanacetifolia, (Fiddleneck),Solidago canadensis (Goldenrod), Asters (Michmaelmas or Easter Daisy) Alyssum maritimum (Sweet Alice) all supply nectar for predators.
Generally introduce as many flowering plants into, &/or plant them around your garden. Do some research to work out which one’s to plant to extend the flowering season.
Spraying with even botannical sprays should be a last resort as these too can kill your beneficial insects.
Some design strategies
- Sun~trap hedge, repellant or attractant.
- Camouflage plantings.
- Clump plantings rather than rows.
- Trees & shrubs as flight barriers & wide (1/2 ~ 1mtr) rows of repellant plants
- Create habitats ~ ponds, perches, shelters, warm, wind free micro climates.
- The Wilderness Garden ~ Jackie French
- Organic Plant Protection ~ Rodale Press, Inc.
- Permaculture Home Garden ~ Linda Woodrow
- Organic Gardening ~ Peter Bennett.
- Natural Gardening & Farming in Australia (don’t be put off by the “in Austrslia” bit it’s applicable anywhere)