Permaculture

Page last updated: Thursday, 5 June 2014 - 11:35am

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Hot and shade house

This basket of fruit and vegetables was harvested from a quarter acre block in the Perth foothills.

A greenhouse (hothouse) made of glass or clear plastic, can be used to raise seedlings in a controlled atmosphere and to grow plants which would normally not be suitable for the climate.

Attaching a greenhouse to the sun side of the house will assist with heating in winter and cooling in summer. Air vents at the roof of the green house let the hot air escape, and this can draw in cool air from a shade house attached on the shady side of the house. This process creates a cool breeze through the house which can be managed through the vents.

Cover the greenhouse with a deciduous vine or shade cloth to protect the plants from excess summer heat.

Basket of summer fruits harvested from a Perth permaculture garden.

A shower in the hothouse releases steam and water, which will benefit the nursed plants. This system may be connected to a grey water tank, where water can be recycled to water the rest of the block.

A shade house can be used to grow shade loving plants such as ferns, lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, rocket, endive, radicchio and some herbs. The shade house might be covered with a permanent vine and a moist mulch layer can help generate a cooling breeze.

Grey water system

Effective grey water systems are available commercially. Grey water from the bathroom and from the laundry may be used. The kitchen sink water contains fat and solids and may block your system. Grey water should be only used for ornamentals and fruit trees, not for vegetables because there is a risk of contamination by harmful bacteria and fungi.

Garden pond

Garden ponds add diversity and can be made from a number of materials. They can be used to grow water chestnuts, various Asian herbs, taro and water lilies and can harbour insect eating frogs and fish. Garden ponds can be incorporated into a greenhouse design and will benefit plants that prefer high humidity. If small children are around, secure the pond with a steel-mesh cover to prevent drowning accidents.

Trees

Bee on plum blossom.

Fruit trees, as well as ornamental trees benefit the permaculture system. While fruit trees are a source of food, ornamental trees can add landscape appeal, providing pleasure and attract a range of creatures like insects, spiders and birds.

Trees can be strategically placed for climate modification, providing shade and shelter from the wind. Deciduous trees planted on the sunny northern side will provide shade in summer and enable solar heating in winter, when the leaves have shed. If space is limited, winter vegetables can be grown under deciduous trees when they are dormant.

In a small area, trees can be grown in containers and kept small via pruning. Multi-grafted trees save a lot of room. For example peaches, almonds, nectarines, apricots and plums are from a similar family so several might be grafted onto one rootstock.

Fruit trees can be espaliered, which is pruning and training onto wires on a wall or fence. The advantages of espalier are easier picking, netting against birds and saving space.