The first of the twelve design principles of permaculture is: Design & Interact – emphasising the importance of taking the time to understand the situation in which we are designing.
Design can take many forms, big or small; whether it is deciding where to hang a picture at home or designing a building to hang it in, some common features exist between all forms of designing and, at the same time, some systems exist which can improve our chances of success. You will have used many of these systems before, permaculture helps us to develop a framework to help design go well.
Observation skills were once a vital survival skill for our ancestors; people relied on understanding what was safe to eat, when it would grow and where and where danger might lie. By observing our natural surrounding we are able to understand them and use them to our advantage.
In designing a permaculture growing space, some things to consider are:
- Soil (Type, pH, depth)
- Temperature: Over the year
- Sunlight: shade
- Local resources
Once we have developed an understanding of a growing space, it is possible to ensure that we are planting things that grow well in that environment, rather than try to change the environment to suit what are we growing – which is more resource and labour intensive.