Technology in Permaculture starts with design. And if planning to produce sufficient produce for self sufficiency planning and technology are especially important.
In this sense the elements of design are more about how to more than what to. Making the most of space through thought and reflection. Placing elements on elements, stacking plants on plants.
The following are a few examples of how you can use design and interpretation of various technologies to achieve abundance in Urban Permaculture.
Training trees and shrubs along a structure (could be a building, fence, wire stretched between posts, chicken yard, lattice or similar has many benefits.
- Space saving – allows several trees and varieties to grow in an area typically reserved for a single tree that is traditionally maintained.
- Makes harvesting fruit much easier. Espaliered trees are usually at or below head height so picking requires no ladders. Trained branches also leaves fruit easier to see.
- Lets more light in which helps prevent fungal disease and creates an overall healthier tree.
Grafting as been practised for centuries and is noted as far back as 2000 years ago. Traditionally, and still the main reason for grafting, is to establish a quality fruit or flowering variety on to a healthy root stock. Grafting is also popular for grafting 2 or more varieties on the same rootstock which allows several varieties to grow on the same root system – ultimately allowing for higher production in less space, saving water and nutrient.
The process involves:
“…one plant is selected for its roots and this is called the stock or rootstock. The other plant is selected for its stems, leaves, flowers or fruits and is called the scion or cion. The scion contains the desired genes to be duplicated in future production by the stock/scion plant…” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grafting
Living Art – Artist Sam van Aken has taken this to the extreme and produced several living Artworks known as the tree of 40 fruits where 40 species of prunus have been grafted to a single rootstock. http://www.treeof40fruit.com/
Pollarding is an ideal way to maintain the height of a tree or shrub with added benefits including:
- Producing multiple new stems that will produce fruit.
- Keeps fruit trees at a height that can be easily managed and allows for easy fruit picking.
- Provides wood, canes, stakes, hugelkultur material, limbs to shred for mulch,fencing material.
“…Pollarding is when young trees and shrubs are cut to the main stem or trunk, ultimately controlling the height of the plants. This is different from coppicing because the trees and shrubs are not cut at ground level, but much higher, usually around six feet. Pollarding maintains a desired height for the plants, reduces shade and defines the plants’ shape…” http://www.hortmag.com/weekly-tips/pruning-techniques-coppicing-and-pollarding-trees-and-shrubs
Choosing a variety of plants that benefit each other is the key here. From nitrogen fixing legumes to mineral sourcing comfrey. In the system shown in Image 5, The large tree (1) is playing the role of host to the climber (7) some shade to (2, 3, 4 and 5). The ground cover (6) is preventing moisture loss while (2) and (3) are playing host to bees and producing berries and other fruit.
Attracting bees to aid in pollination is important for many fruit species. Having bee attracting species as part of a planting plan is an important element of the overall design – especially when fruit is a key part of the system.
The bee is one of natures most inspiring and beneficial pieces of biological technology. It has been said that when bees are extinct all other life will cease to exist shortly after.