When I look deep into my soul and ask myself what Permaculture is, I am directed towards food production. Some folks will disagree with me (and that is ok). Growing food with permaculture is slightly different than how I was taught….When we take the principles of permaculture and apply them to our food production the results are amazing, but they are slow.
Permaculture tells us to build our soil over time by increasing the amount of soil organic matter and applied organic matter. Permaculture instructs us to carefully take care of the soil food web that is living underground. Permaculture shows us that many amendments, pesticides, herbicides that we use damages the soil food web and in essence damages our ability to grow food easily.
A seed has been blown in near a forest. The tiny seed forces its way down through decaying leaves, layers of humus and into a living soil. When we start our seeds following the principles of Permaculture, we are using a living soil that has many aspects of the soil food web. This allows us to use less amendments/fertilizers as we grow our transplants.
Another principle of Permaculture is using and valuing renewable/non renewable resources. What does that mean? For the purpose of seed starting, this principle directs us to use the resources that are on hand and readily available. Our seed trays/cells are made of plastic and not manure from cows. Why? Because plastic seed trays/cells are readily available and they can be used for years if proper care is used.
Food Forests and Permanent Agriculture use perennial food crops to create systems where inputs are minimized. Some struggles we have living in a Polar climate is that some popular perennial food crops will not overwinter here, and it takes longer than the lower 48 for certain perennials to be established and bear their fruits.
We mimic a forest. Forests have long lived perennials and they have short lived annuals. Forests have diversity. We take our annuals we interplant them in a polyculture with our perennials and our long lived food crops are slowly establishing themselves in the background. This is a slow process……but the annuals are feeding us. If we use open pollinated varieties and save our seed we just established another year of harvest. We use only open pollinated/heirloom varieties so that the seeds can be used in the futures. Seeds are a renewable resource that we value!
When we grow varieties that are cold hardy, frost tolerant and easy to grow, we feel success. We feel empowered! It is such an amazing feeling to grow your own food and provide for our families.
Growing warm climate food is so much fun! But they have to be started weeks or months ahead of time and they require indoor lighting systems. They take work and time.
Rotating seed trays for hardening off consumes much of my spring days. So we start cold hardy and frost tolerant varieties so that as soon as they sprout they start the hardening off process. These varieties can handle hardening off earlier so they can be transplanted earlier. We mimic the natural environment in which they are accustomed.
So what makes our class a Permaculture Seed Starting Class? We follow the principles of permaculture, we are establishing a slow transition to perennial food plants, we are building our soil by decreasing they use of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers, we are using open pollinated/heirloom varieties where folks can save the seed for the next year and we are providing a service as low cost as possible so that everyone can grow their own food. That is Permaculture Seed Starting.