PERMACULTURE: Savour Soil Permaculture Director Michael Wardle in his garden.
PERMACULTURE: Savour Soil Permaculture Director Michael Wardle in his garden.

PERMACULTURE: A revolution disguised as gardening

WHILE it can’t negate the effects of extreme weather, permaculture tries.

Savour Soil Permaculture director Michael Wardle has never tried to produce crops on a commercial scale but, applying design permaculture principles, he aims to grow enough to feed his family.

He grows a range of fruits, nuts, vegetables and herbs, taking a permaculture approach to growing, looking at gardening holistically.

“A common way people describe permaculture is it’s a revolution disguised as gardening,” Michael said.

“We’re not designing for now, we’re designing for 20, 30, 500 years time and looking at the patterns of the weather, climate, landscape and our own behaviour.”

Michael said permaculture was not about designing for the average but rather preparing for extremes.

“Take water, for example; we’re not just looking at what the average rainfall is – we’re asking what is the absolute minimum but also what is the absolute maximum,” he said.

“And what is the consequence of both? Droughts and floods.”

In the face of the drought, production on Michael’s property has slowed down and, with water growing evermore scarce, Michael has had to choose how to allocate the limited resource.

“I’ve ended up turning off a lot of the water and have kept just enough to keep the trees alive and productive,” he said.

While much of the garden is dying, the fruit and nut trees are Michael’s main priority in the garden, perennial rather than annual systems.

On his property, Michael grows pecans, macadamias, mulberries, loquats, apples, pears, nectarines, pomegranates, persimmons, and a variety of citrus fruits.

“They’re the long-term investment whereas, with the annual stuff, I’ve got the seed,” he said.

“As soon as it starts to get better again, I can just plant and start going.”

Having turned off the water on his garden beds, Michael has covered them in mulch and “letting it go”.

“It will do its own thing,” he said.


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