Posts Tagged ‘Gaia’s Garden’

Favorite Permaculture and Gardening Resources

Blog readers and local gardeners keep requesting a list of my favorite permaculture and gardening resources. This is probably not a complete list; however, these represent some of the books, strategies and research I’ve read and/or experienced:

BOOKS

Gaia’s Garden, by Toby Hemenway, is the usual go-to book for at home permaculture. The second edition has much more info for urban and suburban settings.

The Edible Front Yard, by Ivette Soler, is also very good, though it’s not permaculture, per se.This book emphasizes beautiful, edible ornamental vegetables, bushes and trees, coupled with expert tips on good landscape design, including color, structure and plant suggestions. A must-read if you plan to garden in your front yard, since this book will help you avoid raising the ire of lawn-loving neighbors.

The Backyard Homestead, edited by Carleen Madigan, has information on how to do just about everything related to growing and preserving your own food, raising livestock, making herbal medicines, pruning fruit trees, and more. It’s really a one-stop shop in terms of straight up information with lots of charts, calculations on land productivity, as well as specific suggestions regarding varieties and attractive, edible plant combinations.

Four-Season Harvest, by Elliot Coleman is the go-to book for cold frames, greenhouses and season extension. He shares a phenomenal amount of knowledge, which I am only just beginning to absorb. Thinking in 4-D (with the time factor) brings gardening even more into the range of multi-tasking. Coleman covers cover crops, latitude, daylight hours, chill factors and more. If you want to garden in three seasons and harvest in four, this is the book for you.

Year-Round Vegetable Gardener, by Niki Jabbour, is another excellent book to help you strategize for maximum harvest, despite climate challenges. I own both Coleman’s book and Jabbour’s book, as Jabbour’s seems less intimidating, and I like her excitement.

All New Square Foot Gardening, by Mel Bartholomew, is considered a must-have by many people who garden in raised beds. I own a copy, and I appreciate the work he does to make gardening accessible for everyone. Based on my experimentation, “Mel’s Mix” for soil really does make a difference. I just don’t like orderly, rigid, square boundaries, so his gardening style doesn’t particularly suit me. I prefer the looks and growth advantages of round, tiered beds, and I also like making free form raised beds via sheet mulching (also called Lasagna gardening) and wood mulch (also called the Back to Eden Method). If you like tidy raised beds, then The All New Square Foot Gardening will prove a worthwhile book to own. If you just want some knowledge about soil, general information on raised beds and trellis ideas, then I’d suggest borrowing this one from the library.

Vertical Gardening: Grow Up, Not Out, for More Vegetables and Flowers in Much Less Space, by Derek Fell. I borrowed this from the Madison Public Library while trying to garden an extremely small space against a chain link fence. We now have a huge garden; however, I continue to implement many of Fell’s delightful suggestions. If I still had a small space, I would own this book for reference.

FILMS/VIDEOS

Back to Eden: This is the film that sparked my own interest in wood mulch gardening for rich soil and dramatically less watering. You can watch it for free online by clicking here.

Permaculture and the Sacred: a fascinating talk given by Starhawk to the Harvard Divinity School. You can watch it here.

Free Introduction to Permaculture Organic Farming Online Course with Will Hooker from NC State University: This is a 38 video series, filmed in an actual ag class at NC State. You won’t get credit for having taken the class, and you’ll need to bear with student interactions and class-specific questions; however, these talks are loaded with information!

PERMACULTURE DESIGN CERTIFICATE COURSES

This is a tricky category, because I have not personally taken anything beyond a weekend introductory course in permaculture. We did participate in a real site design and planting, and we learned a ton; however, this Friday-Saturday-Sunday event did not count as the 72-hour PDC course.

The Permaculture Design Certificate Course is a specific collection of teachings that enables anyone completing it to become a professional permaculture teacher or designer. If you have not taken the course, you are not legally allowed to charge for services that use the word “permaculture” in their description. Of course, you can still study and implement permaculture prinicples on your own, and if anyone wants to learn from you, just don’t call it “permaculture” instruction or design! Terms like “holistic gardening,” “radical companion planting,” “systems gardening” or “relationship in Nature” could all touch upon aspects of permaculture, depending on your interests.

On the other hand, everyone I know who has taken a permaculture design certificate (PDC) course considers it a pinnacle and paradigm shifting experience. Choosing a course depends on your priorities and interests. In some ways, it would be ideal to find a local-ish teacher so that what you learn applies to your climate and location. Any PDC course will encourage you to study your own plot of land across the hours and seasons, though, so you could also select a teacher based on personal resonance.

I’ve often thought I’d want to study with Starhawk‘s Earth Activist Training, if I ever opted to do my PDC. I like that she has studied in the Feri (Faery) tradition and I appreciate the ways she interweaves and grounds her spirituality into everything from gardening to relationships, ritual and politics.

My own major resistance to doing a PDC course is, ironically, that I don’t want to spend much time away from our yard. I read voraciously, and I generally dislike classes (unless I happen to be teaching them). By doing a highly disciplined, self-directed study, I can learn as I go — running outside to evaluate immediately how what I’ve learned might apply to our yard. Traveling to a class also involves transportation, which usually involves fluorescent lights, noise, odd food and sleeping arrangements and noise. While I can handle those things, I’m in a nesting phase and don’t really feel like traveling unless I feel deeply called to a particular area.

If you find yourself in the same boat of not wanting to or not having time to travel for your PDC, blog reader Alan Enzo of http://permacultureeducation.com let me know of an online training that follows the exact criteria of original permaculture design certifier, Bill Mollison:

“Technically, all PDC courses should cover the exact same 72-hours of material. This is how the system was laid out by the founders, and what makes our PDC course special is that we take this seriously.  We do not add our own ‘stuff,’ metaphysics, religion, psycho-analysis, or anything else.  Some Permaculture teachers out there do, and this is not how Permaculture was meant to be disseminated.
We take pride in teaching only the official 72-hour curriculum as set down by Bill Mollison. 

[A]nother major difference between our PDC course and most on-the-ground courses – Students get an intensive design experience with personalized instruction from highly-qualified instructors.  

“In most residential PDC courses, 3-4 students work together on a fictional design, for just a few hours, and present it to the group.  There is little time for reviewing the students’ final designs in this situation, because there are usually many other students waiting to present their group designs, and the process is rushed through.
“In our course, students get experience creating a real, integrated, working Permaculture Design, with expert guidance, feedback, and suggestions along the way.  Our graduates leave with the ability to go out there and design for others, or to teach, consult, start a Permaculture-based business, etc.”
Please note: I have not taken this course, so I cannot comment on the content or teaching, other than appreciating the rationale for sticking to the original information. That’s what I do for certification courses as a Reiki Master Teacher — teach the basics as originally taught, allowing students to customize after the fact. In this way, I know they have received all the required training for valid certification and will be able to discern what’s original teaching and what’s add-on. I also like that someone can take this PDC course from anywhere and use his or her own project as a real design. I have no financial interest in this, but Alan has offered a $50 discount for my blog readers if anyone chooses to sign up. Just mention the discount when you contact them.
OTHER RESOURCES
The Faery Realm — no, I am not being facetious! Faeries love to help people who help heal and protect the Earth, so they arrive as natural allies for anyone open to receiving their help. Click here for some Quick Tips for Interacting with the Faeries.
Local Gardeners, Tree Cutters (for mulch and information about tree health), Farmers at the Farmers Market, Community Gardens and more….
“Permaculture” refers not just to “permanent agriculture” but also to “permanent culture.” The systems approach looks at how everyone and everything interact together in complex, mutually beneficial systems with “stacked functions.” Everyone and everything serves a key function, and permaculture aims to uncover unexpected gifts and relationships. Left brain, right brain, social, solitary observer … it all goes into the mix, so reach out to the world around you. If you read or do nothing else but more deeply, consciously engage your local environment, you’ve already begun taking steps towards permaculture principles. If you add that new knowledge and skill back into your garden, then you’ll have food and beauty to boot!
Cheers!

Time Keeps On Slippin’ … Into the Future!

I awoke this morning with “Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ … into the future…” running through my head on a non-stop loop. “I want to fly like an eagle…” Some kundalini yoga chants got rid of it for a little while, but now it’s back with a vengeance demanding that I type. As we cross the threshold of 2012 into 2013, it strikes me that time is, indeed, slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ … into a future many people wondered if we’d ever see. With all the doomsday predictions, movies and “prophecies,” a major pause seemed to hang over the end of 2012. I put “prophecies” in quotes because the Mayans never predicted the end of the world, but rather the end of the Old World. Big difference.

According to the Mayans and many other indigenous cultures, 2012 marked the final transition from one age into another –from an age of deception, selfishness and abuse of the Earth to an age of openness, community and restoration of the Earth and our relationship with her. Whether you follow mainstream or alternative news streams, this so-called shift to a positive new age might strain credulity. Take your pick between the over-hyped “fiscal cliff” and “lone shooter” scare tactics from mainstream sources, or the Chicken Little “sky is falling, they can pry my guns from my cold dead fingers” alternative media. You can play selective three monkeys (“see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil — of my chosen trained monkey political party”), driving a further wedge between you and your neighbor, between “the progressive Agenda 21 whores and gun grabbers” vs. “the racists, misogynists, and greedy, rotten scoundrels” but –honestly — how good does that feel? Ancient prophecies aside, do you really want to carry that radioactive, toxic sludge into the New Year?

Because you don’t have to.

In a world of all possibilities, we can as individuals and as little pockets in society, invent a higher, middle ground. In addition to The Steve Miller Band, I’ve had some other persistent concepts run across my brain today, one of them being the creation of intentional paths. I’m actively reading four books right now, and playing reading roulette with several others. “Gaia’s Garden” and “The Four Season Harvest” both discuss soil building and the importance of building pathways into your garden. In the rush to get the most out of every spot, people often try to over-plant, causing them to over-reach and making garden maintenance less pleasant and more labor intensive on the body. Even worse, a lack of deliberate paths can cause people to step on the soil where plants are trying to grow, and that heavy weight disrupts the soil ecosystem by compacting it and removing much needed oxygen and hydration paths. Even if the gardener avoids the visible plants, the delicate root system below can become compromised, resulting in mysteriously less abundant growth. The solution? Heavily mulching planned pathways that allow easy access to and enjoyment of the garden from multiple angles.

We can apply this wisdom to our own “Garden of Eden” visualizations for a blessed and easier life on Earth and in our communities: remember to make these visions accessible! Create clear pathways that allow easy access to Life’s improvements. Sweeping, sterile generalities and platitudes produce less fruit than carefully tended ideas and intentions that we can get close to. Starting on the individual and local community level makes a lot of sense, especially since the energies of 2013 support these “smaller” steps. The idea of “be the change” takes on new meaning when it moves beyond “sending love to everyone around the world” to include tangible, deliberate, loving actions in daily life. Each action step in the direction of individual sovereignty and sustainable community, no matter how small that step, links us into a larger, planetary and cosmic ecosystem. When we create well-worn paths, others can join us without damaging the tender new growth. By building pathways/opportunities for imitation and joint projects, we all benefit. Working with Nature and with the natural energies of the times, we allow ourselves to go with the positive flow, resulting in less work and a larger, healthier “harvest.”

After reading about intentional path creation in both “Gaia’s Garden” and “The Four Season Harvest,” I meditated on Colette Baron-Reid’s “The Wisdom of Avalon Oracle Deck” and asked for an important focus of 2013. I pulled “The Deer: gentleness, diplomacy”:

“When the Deer appears, it’s a reminder to step gently on the path, for you’re walking into a time when gentle movements and diplomacy are required. The Deer’s strength is in this quality. Make it your own, and know that your steps are successfully assured.

“It’s important that you be gentle with yourself as well, for you may be headed into a period where you’re unsure of your footing, or just coming out of a difficult situation.

“Blend your personal energy with the Deer’s energy of gentleness and diplomacy. Walk softly, and the way forward will be smooth. And remember … never mistake gentleness for weakness in yourself or in others.”

Gentleness and diplomacy can apply in all areas. We think of deer as graceful creatures, seeing them sometimes solitary and often in groups. They move within Nature, below our usual perceptions. A deer in the “wrong place at the wrong time” can cause great damage to itself and others, but as a general rule, deer walk silently and carefully on well-worn paths. As we ourselves enter the Unknown — symbolized in fairy tales by the deep, dark forest — we can tune in and follow Nature’s lead. Unlike all the manufactured reality online or onscreen, Nature embraces cycles of time that live more in the Now and also with an effortless future sustainability. Nature wastes nothing –fallen leaves become fertilizer and mulch; plant guilds sustain each other through symbiotic relationships; entire ecosystems arise and morph as each participant serves several roles and functions. We can re-learn how to connect with Nature, and this reconnection process will help us deal with whatever internal or external challenges we face in 2013.

Finding and creating deliberate paths to abundance, sustainability, community and enough food for all brings positive intentions into real world manifestation. The Law of Attraction means working with the natural flow from Source/God/Goddess/the Universe/the All that Is. No matter what you call it, we can all tap into this power, but it will express itself differently in each of us. Just as a natural ecosystem has multiple roles and niches for each participant, we can re-learn how to recognize where we might offer just the right knowledge, skill, enthusiasm or piece of property. We can re-learn to recognize the gifts in others instead of seeing them as Other.

In a world of all possibilities, we can easily choose to self-destruct. The media and power structures pulling media and governmental strings would love to see us fail, but guess what? Nature always bats last. If we tune ourselves into the natural rhythms and cycles of nature and walking with gentleness and diplomacy in the deep, dark Unknown, we will each find our place. Some of the invasive species on our planet — the ones devouring resources and trying to control every aspect of our lives — will drop out of the ecosystem. Once we find ourselves and our place as individuals and on the local level, those local communities will begin to expand and radiate health. Isolated pockets of sanity and sustainability will gradually merge into each other until we have more healing and positive reinforcements than not on this planet. It’s already happening, but we can amplify these effects by studying Nature and emulating her wisdom.

Which brings me back to today’s earworm:

Fly Like An Eagle (Lyrics by Steve Miller)

“Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’
Into the future
Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’
Into the future

I want to fly like an eagle
To the sea
Fly like an eagle
Let my spirit carry me
I want to fly like an eagle
Till I’m free
Oh, Lord, through the revolution

Feed the babies
Who don’t have enough to eat
Shoe the children
With no shoes on their feet
House the people
Livin’ in the street
Oh, oh, there’s a solution

I want to fly like an eagle
To the sea
Fly like an eagle
Let my spirit carry me
I want to fly like an eagle
Till I’m free
Fly through the revolution

Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’
Into the future
Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’
Into the future
Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’
Into the future
Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’
Into the future

I want to fly like an eagle
To the sea
Fly like an eagle
Let my spirit carry me
I want to fly like an eagle
Till I’m free
Fly through the revolution

Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’
Into the future
Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’
Into the future”

Goodbye 2012 and Hello 2013! Happy New Year!