I had very little interest in gardening until I was steered towards the (now defunct) ‘Introduction to Permaculture’ course at Ryde Horticultural College in 2011.
Permaculture is an integrated design system, with distinct ethics and principles. At the first lecture I remember Penny Pyett, the amazing teacher, saying “This course will change your life.” At the time I sniggered sotto voce, but in fact she was right! Since then most of my activities have been permaculture related – either in developing my own garden or doing permaculture-related social activities.
At the start, my garden consisted of privet trees, cotoneasters, fish fern, and ivy in clay soil. Today I have water harvesting structures and water-saving methods in place (swales, rainwater tanks, 14% organic matter, wicking beds), which are showing their worth in this hottest summer on record!
I have vegetable beds, about 20 fruit trees, a banana grove, a potential chook hotel and a mini rainforest where all the trees and plants are edible in some form. I have native bee hives, worm farms and five different forms of composting.
The soil is now classified as clay loam. This has been a slow process, but not onerous. This change in my life has been supremely satisfying on many levels. I would recommend that everyone should grow something they can eat, even if it is just a few herbs in a pot… Start now!