One of the principles of permaculture is to regenerate the land following the sequence in which ultimately climax forest vegetation develops in nature – after say a forest fire where the land is scorched and sterilised – bit like a brown field site.
As it happens we’ve had a couple of heavy duty earthworks around the house here over the last couple of years. Stage one was to remove the swimming pool and creating a platform at the back of the house. All of the soil was deposited in a “bank” ahead of phase 2 which was the excavation of the rainwater harvesting reservoir which has been done this year.
We’ve managed no net movement of soil on or off site but as you might imagine we’ve surfaced quite a lot of topsoil and by May this year we had a lot of bare earth. Other than chucking some grass seed at it we’ve not done a lot.
However on idly leafing through the permaculture books I discovered that the first thing that happens is that weeds act to cover the ground particularly things like docks that bring up potassium from deep down via their taproots.
And the second thing that happens is that leguminous plants invade the space and start fixing nitrogen.
This repair of the ground allows other species to get going and eventually re-create the whole plant ecosystem
Well I can honestly report that on this year’s lot there’s been a pitch invasion of docks and at the back where the swimming pool came out 18 months ago it’s stiff with clover. Both of these happy events have been organised by nature with no input from me at all.
So while I’ve been on holiday I’ve been avidly reading David Bell’s book the permaculture garden and am busily planning a forest garden round the house for a permanent supply of fruit.
I’ll let you know how I get on.