Permaculture basics: Using what you have

So, how do you get started with something like homesteading? Especially if your funds are limited it can be hard to figure out. I decided to start with the materials I had at hand. This is one of the basic tenants of permaculture.

What is permaculture?
There are a number of ways to define this complex concept, but essentially permaculture is a small-scale, intensive system of ecological design that uses the materials, characteristics, and processes already present on a site. More simply, planting what wants to be planted on a site.

For example, my yard is very shady. I also wanted to work with plant materials I already had around. In my case I had a few packets of seeds that were given to me for Easter (lettuce, spinach, cucumber, peas, and bush beans) and some kitchen scraps (sprouting garlic cloves, potatoes, and sunchokes). I also planted a few mint and lemon balm plants in the shadiest section of the yard last year. Eventually I would like to work primarily with native plants, but right now I’d like to to work with what I have around.

My garden space


My yard is small so it’s not like I have much space to work with, either. I’m mostly working with the beds that are already installed around the edges. My soil is pretty heavy (a little too much clay), but hopefully I can still grow the plants I have.

Around a week later after a couple of extremely warm days and a good amount of rain the sunchokes are looking happy!


The peas and beans are coming up strong too.



Permaculture resources
I’ve been researching local resources for permaculture and sustainable living and it turns out that the Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute is right down the road from me – who knew? Maybe I will do one of their community education courses the next time they offer one. Has anyone out there taken a class like that and found it useful?


7 thoughts on “Permaculture basics: Using what you have

  1. Pingback: 7 Factors that Affect Seed Germination | living on a green thumb

  2. Hi! This is an amazing project. I love the blog. If you find your soil is still a little too heavy, I find adding course sand (playground sand from home depot works great) can really help with reducing compaction and also adds some minerals to the soil.

  3. Nice, simple description of a topic that can sometimes puzzle folk. We were doing the same at our place for a long time without even realising. We also garden on clay so look for seed varieties that cope well with it like little round Parisian Market carrots that don’t have to push their way through the soil.

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