There are many long definitions of Permaculture. In a nut shell I think of Permaculture as a method of design that copies nature and puts strong emphasis on biodiversity (or variety).

Regular readers will recall my saying often that when I started gardening I looked to nature for my example.  That is basically what Permaculture does.

When I started gardening years ago —and for many years that followed — I’d never even heard of Permaculture — much less know what it was.

In today’s world marketing has influenced the way people garden as well as most other things they do. Many things are promoted as needs when the reality is — they’re not “needed” at all.

There’s nothing secretive or expensive about gardening with nature.  And the nicest part is — it’s the easiest and most enjoyable way to garden — in addition to being a way that creates a more diverse, natural, beautiful and more abundant garden and landscape.  And the icing on the cake —- it doesn’t take anywhere near the amount of maintenance that conventional  borders or gardens take.

A Reader Writes about a Book She is Reading

A good friend and reader wrote to me today saying that she picked up a very interesting book from the library recently.  She writes, “It’s about the same things you talk about – working with nature instead of against it. —– I’ve just started it, and it is so different from anything else —— I’m hearing things that I’ve only heard from you before.” (She hasn’t filled me in on any of the details yet.)

An example

By now you’re probably wanting an example.  Well — I’m going to give you a small one — and I haven’t even read the book yet —- but I can almost guarantee you that this principle will be addressed somewhere in that book.

A week or so ago a reader wrote, ” I remember your telling me (or perhaps I read it in a post) that it was better NOT to edge your beds with anything. I ignored that good advice, edged with some nice bricks I had laying around, and was regretting it just the other day. I will get around to taking them away SOON. (They look nice, but wiregrass loves to creep under them.)

Fences, boards for raised beds, landscape fabric and the like just cause more work.  It is much easier to work with nature rather than against her.  She’ll always win — so why not work with her.

Many Might Feel this Way

I think many folks who are gardening today feel as my friend did.  In talking about the book she writes, “The working with nature was something I’ve heard you say, and I guess I always thought of gardening as taming it or conquering it…. this guys says similar (to what you say).”

The Book

The book is Gaia’s Garden: A guide to Home-Scale Permaculture by Toby Hemenway. It is said to be the first major North American book on Permaculture. It has excellent reviews and many consider it a “must-have” — especially the Second Edition.  I know I want to read it.

It would make a great Christmas gift for a gardener — or for yourself.

But if you can’t afford the book, find it at the library, or feel that it would put you into overwhelm — don’t worry.  Just keep reading TMG.  Sooner or later, I’ll cover all the basics you need to know and in the meantime your good common sense will hold you in good stead.



Here are a few of the TMG Posts dealing with principles that are also principles of Permaculture:

Crop Rotation – Your Garden too Small to Rotate Crops? – Cover crops are the Answer

Why Mulch Your Garden Paths

Contained Raised Beds – No Way!

Garden Weeds and Refuse – Using Them to Benefit Your Garden

Evaluating ROI – Broccoli and Cabbage or Anything Else

Defense Against Garden Pest and Disease

Border Design – Evergreens – Perennials

Organic Gardening and the Value of Cover Crops

What to Do if you Can’t Dig

Soil – Most Valuable Asset for Your Garden

Developing Garden Structure

Principle of Diversity – Assuring Your Success

Collect Gold for Your Garden

A garden tip – Be Patient and Observe

3 Simple Concepts to Enhance Your Flower Gardens and Borders

Plan to Succeed – Plan for Backup

10 Reasons to Mulch


Organic gardening is easy, effective, efficient —- and it’s a lot heathier.


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  • Theresa, I remember visiting a restaurant vegetable garden several years ago. This garden is beautiful, organically managed and very productive. The gardener happened to be out working in the garden at the time. We got talking, and his advice to me was, “work with the plants” and “let them tell you what they need”.
    Quite honestly, I went home without a clue as to what he meant, and now that I think about it, he was using permaculture – no tilling, mulching, companion planting, lots of diversity. It’s become quite the buzzword online in recent years, but, of course, you’ve been doing it, as he has, for years by instinct, I guess.

  • Great story Sandra.
    And I think you’re right — it’s always seemed “inside” of me what to do. The main thing is to know the basics of working with nature as is told on this site — and then when you learn the extras — it propels you to an even higher level. Great fun this gardening stuff!

  • Theresa, I read the book that you mention here, and I’ve got to agree that #1 – it does have a lot of the same stuff you talk about in your posts (I would’ve thought you had already read it) and #2 – it is a fantastic read for anyone who loves gardening and cares about nature. I found the section on soil health particularly useful. I highly recommend this book to your blog readers.

  • Thanks for commenting and for the recommendation Gabriel. I’m looking forward to reading the book.

    No matter what they call “working with nature” — a rose by any other name is still a rose. 🙂

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