What to include in permaculture demonstration garden?
I'm dreaming of having a garden in which I can demonstrate permaculture to other people. What do you all think might be the most important features to include in such a garden?
I'm in a hot, dry climate (Central Texas USA), if that makes a difference.
Wouldn't the simplest be an herb spiral? You can demonstrate a lot with it from making its own soil, to sun traps, companion planting, water issues, sun, etc.
Thanks! Not sure about the herb spiral here in our very hot dry climate. I'm pretty sure the herbs would just die.... :p
I have family near San Antonio, I totally understand the desert issue you are having, but I would bet you could pull a good one off. I noticed the severe difference in temperature in the shade while I was there last, especially the deep shade, so I am rather confident in your abilities.
After that - make a design that works for the site, and is attractive and wheel chair accessible. With spots to sit in the shade and enjoy it all. Permaculture isn't about one herb spiral, a swale and a banana circle - it's about integrating it all together to work with the site and the climate you have.
If you are in a desert then you need to demonstrate a range of solutions that people could use at their place.
Having signposts explaining what a plant or design feature is means that you don't need to have a permanent guide at each person's elbow to interpret what they are seeing. But you do need to keep your signs up to date. I have been to gardens where the plant marked on the sign died long ago, and has been replaced, but no one thought to update the sign!
Water trapping/saving/storage /aquaponics/greywater etc etc.
I think showing people that good design can make plants grow in a really difficult climate would be really effective.
Water's one of your major challenges, isn't it Ludi? Making that work in Texas would be a real 'selling point'.
Last edited by pippimac; 04-12-2011 at 11:50 AM.
Reason: bad England
Agreed with Leila. Since you are in Texas, and in the worst drought ever(?), you need to prove that clever design can work and it's not hard.
Use your endemic natives when you can (score some brownie points), use everything that's easily accessible to the average person (as a demonstration point), measure your time put in, costs, inputs and outputs. Signage is important, label everything, why it works, how it works, and what it's working in tandem with. Even what predatory insects do.
Get some rainwater tanks, some decent ones, as I understand that they aren't common there (I've explained water tanks to Texans before, they tend to use tiny rain barrels), so even if permaculture isn't the viewee's thing, they can see the benefit of designing a garden space around the biggest tank possible and not using drinking water to keep it alive (or abusing aquifers). You know, 6000gal plus even several smaller tanks daisychained together. That's a small step even if ornamental gardens are the beneficiary (or lawns!). Install gutters of course!
Forest garden if you have the space, several years down the track that will be the one paying off as the demonstration, particularly if it's a decent-sized canopy system.
Thank you for these suggestions.
I was the most sucessful with herbs in my previous location....very hot and dry in summer cold in winter. All the woody mederterianian herbs Rosemary, Tyme went very well oregano margoram did well with a little shadecloth in place. Lemon grass as an annual and a small tub of mint (needs water so tub is best) all added to variety. The coriander was prolific....self seeded everywhere. Sorry about the spelling..