Think about two different eco systems: a forest and a meadow. The forest is full of larger trees an d larger animals, while the meadow is full of smaller plants and animals. The two habitats provide very different needs for the different animals. Now think about where the meadow meets the forest and the two ecosystems overlap and blend together to create an incredibly diverse third habitat that in permaculture is know as the edge.
Permaculture principle number 11 is use edges and value the marginal. As with the forest and the meadow, the edges of gardens or ponds are the most varied areas. So why not use this to our advantage? Mimic nature through varied edges, and create more of them.
This may sound like a difficiult thing to do, but it is actually very simple. Instead of straight garden rows, make more of a wave or zig zag pattern. Then you actually are ablle to fit more in the same row. When you dig a pond, don’t make a smooth edge. Again, make it a wavy edge, even with an island in the middle to add more edge. Think of it this way: I want to dig a pond and put blueberry bushes around the edge. How many bushes could you fit around a smooth edge, simply lined up? Now dig a pond with a wavy edge. How many more blueberry bushes is there now room for around your pond? And then add a blueberry bush to your island in the middle.
I decided to go a little crazy with the edges on my lot. I intend to build hugelkulture beds all around the perimeter, forming a huge living fence. The perennials that I plant all around will provide food and habitat for myself and the local wildlife. In many places, I extend this hugel bed edge by lining the walkways with some hugel beds as well. In other places, the beds along the property line actually reach out into the lot to extend the grow area. The amount of food and habitat created through these beds will be more than we would ever need.
I like to think that value the marginal has a lot to do with marginal thinking. The amount of ideas that would be considered marginal that ending up being fantastic is huge. Think outside the box and create something awesome.
You can read all the permaculture principles here.
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