Permaculture IV: The Instant Garden

A quick Start guide to getting a permaculture garden up and running
This technique avoids the “back breaking” job of digging the earth. To start off with the area to be worked on should be small, 8 or 10 m². Recommended measurements are 1,20m wide by any length. You can apply some creativity to the shape working with half moons, circles, spirals, rectangles and so on.
The amount produced can be extraordinary and with minimum knowledge you can get plenty of food all year long. I remember a family in an English house in
London that harvested enough fresh and organic vegetables in just 40m².
To build the terrace you will need: abundant organic material, preferably compost (available in sacks in a greenhouse or even better prepare it yourselves), manure (the older the better), cardboard (without coloured inks as they contain heavy metals), straw, shavings, tree leaves, husks, old cotton clothes or wool carpets, seaweed, and so on, whatever you can get.
First you need to build a wall with boards, stones, tree trunks, or bricks to help define the terrace. We recommend a height of 60cm which will make planting, and also removing grass, mulching and later the harvesting much easier.
First clear the grass in the area where you are going to have the garden and keep the cuttings to be added at the end as mulch as it is not a good idea to bury fresh material. Next add a 5 cm layer of worm compost or some mature compost.
On to this go layers of cardboard and newspaper, to control weeds. Decomposed leaves, cotton rugs, wool rugs, all go on top and need to be well soaked with water. The next layer is a mix of horse manure and straw, well decomposed, and then a 5 or 10cm layer of earth and more layers with the organic material.
Continue building up the layers until you have the right height, and the final layer is a straw mulch, shavings or the weeds that you removed at the beginning. In the first year you need to water the terrace abundantly and to add new layers as the micro-organisms and worms decompose the materials and create a high quality humus.
Now everything is ready to plant. If possible you will have our own little plants grown from seed, if not we can buy them: lettuce, chards, cabbages, tomatoes, peppers, egg plants, melons, water melons, pumpkins, etcetera…considering the planting frame and creating beneficial associations (more on this later – ed). 

So to plant and plant that by planting we always harvest something!
To go deeper into Permaculture, come along to a workshop at PermaculturaCañaDulce with Lucho Iglesias.
Tel: 951 16 50 37 / 607 63 29 37

For other Permaculture articles in this series, please click here

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