Permaculture Design/Zone design/Zone 1 Food Garden

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Zone 1 Food Garden[edit]

Principle that Guides this Process: Bring food production back to the cities.

The Design Process[edit]

  • What are your needs? ~ base what you grow on what you like to eat and what can be grown in the area.
  • What other needs do you have of this area? ~ some elements to consider are, recreation/play, outdoor cooking, pond, worm farm, sitting/contemplative area, glasshouse, propagation/potting shed/area.
  • How will it relate to other zones e.g. 0 (house) & 2 (Fruit Forest)? Think about the needs & yields of all 3 zones
  • Think about what materials you will need. This often comes when the design is done but if you look at what is available either on your land or close by you may be inspired by the resources you have & come up with some ingenuous ideas.
  • You may actually decide to limit what you do to what you can glean/recycle/gather rather than what you can buy. This can lead to becoming quite skilled at finding what you need & seeing resources everywhere!

Characteristics of Zone 1[edit]

  • It is good to place zone 1 as close as possible to your dwelling & especially the kitchen. It is also good to place it on a well-traveled route so that you are in touch with it i.e. seeing that something needs harvesting or care.
  • Although annuals are planted in this zone many perennials are also ~ asparagus, artichoke, chives, NZ spinach, rhubarb, scarlet runner beans & various herbs as companion plants & pest predator attracters. Let some plants self seed.
  • Zone 1 is sheet mulched traditionally using Lucerne or pea straw. However a mix of grass clippings, well-rotted manure, non-invasive weeds without seeds seaweed & leaves can all be used instead. After laying the newspaper/cardboard out put the manure on followed by a mix of equal parts of the other materials. This is best done in early autumn & left to breakdown over winter. When you go to plant make a depression about the size of half a soccer ball in the mulch & fill with good compost & plant!
  • Zone 1 is intensively cultivated which basically means it has a lot growing in it & needs lots of attention! No- dig gardens can be planted much more intensively as the nutrient sources are high.
  • Curved paths ~ to create more edge & made small to allow more space for growing
  • Uses renewable & completely biodegradable materials
  • Conserves water
  • The plantings are very diverse. Diversity is a high priority when you practice Permaculture. Herbs, flowers, fruits & vegetables all grow together in carefully designed relationships. You also aim for a diversity of microclimates which enables the growing of a diversity of plants!

Methods Used[edit]

  • Vertical Space ~ go up rather than out make use of fences, trellis’, walls & even roofs. There are many productive roof gardens in cities all over the world. Fruit trees can be espaliered or cordoned. A pumpkin can be planted next to a wall & trained to grow over a low roof of a shed for example. The less space we take up for the growing of our food the more space we have to return to indigenous species.
  • Stacking ~ this echoes the way a forest grows. In a vege garden we can have ground covers such as thyme, followed by lower growing plants such as lettuce & the “trees” could be broccoli or brussel sprouts.
  • Guilds ~ this is a planting where each plant benefits the others. A useful guild for this climate would be peas interplanted with lettuce, carrots & radish. Peas supply nitrogen for the lettuce & shade, the radish aids the carrots as they grow fast & open up the soil & the carrots send roots to aerate the deeper soil. The lettuce also makes radish tender. Planting in guilds also means that you get a diversity of food at the same time rather than a glut of one or two varieties.
  • There are certain planting patterns which make care & harvesting easier.
  • Clipping plants ~ leaf by leaf or cut & come again are planted by the path within easy reach.
  • Raised narrow beds ~ for carrots, parsnips, peas & beans
  • Broad beds ~ for long-term crops such as potatoes, cabbage, cauliflower.
  • If keyhole beds are used, long-term crops are planted in the middle of the beds.
  • Small animals can play a part in the maintenance of a Zone 1 garden. Guinea pigs in hutches can be moved about a grassy area & will keep it mowed & give manure for the compost, hens can be let in when crops are at an end to clean up, fertilise & cultivate or use the chook dome method & get them to do all the work! Ducks can clean slugs up before you put in the beds & then let in occasionally for follow-ups once the plants are large enough to not be walked on!
  • Zone 1 needs a diversity of micro climates as previously mentioned & so contain suntraps which create warm sheltered areas & paths made of brick, stone or gravel all act as thermal mass giving out the heat they collect during the day. Even small ponds will create humidity, soil moisture & warmth around them.

So a pond will create a warmer area for frost sensitive crops


Some other Structures Found in Zone 1[edit]

  • Herb spirals are best placed as close as possible to the house. They provide various growing conditions & thermal mass if made with rocks or bricks. They also make good use of vertical space.
  • Worm farms can be incorporated into your zone 1 design providing vermicast & liquid fertiliser for both garden & glasshouse.
  • Cold frames for raising seedlings can be placed in Zone 1 close to the area where propagation mix ingredients are & for easy transplanting & fertilising with the worm juice.
  • Compost areas. These can provide various microclimates too & extra nutrients & moisture leach into the soil around them.
  • Glasshouse. Extends your growing season & creates a micro climate around it

Deciding on what you want at the start is essential to being able to design a system which has many supportive relationships.

Remember that Zone 1 can be not only a productive area but a beautiful one too!