Gardening Like We're Here to Stay
This week we introduce you to permaculture, our full-time job.
We're so grateful to share in the trials and triumphs of vegetable gardening with all of you this summer. Seasoned gardeners, newbies, whatever your motives, we hope you're having fun and learning new skills. With harvest season upon us, our gaze turns to the future. How can we prepare to do better next year?
Permaculture: Gardening Like We're Here to Stay
Vegetable gardening changes your relationship to food, soil, and biology. As you think about your future plans to grow more, enjoy it more, and support the health of your home and land, we invite you to explore how the principles of permaculture can guide you in making that happen.
Permaculture is a way of designing landscapes that grow food and create biological abundance by mimicking how nature designs an ecosystem.
In practice, permaculture looks a bit like landscaping, a bit like creating a forest, and a bit like gardening or farming. Though it's a new term, "permaculture" is the probably oldest way our species farmed, encouraging the land to grow more of what tasted good.
Using a permaculture approach involves carefully observing your growing area and natural conditions, then tweaking it with slow and thoughtful responses, while understanding and incorporating basic principles and techniques.
Resilient Roots has a certified permaculture designer if you're looking for some help envisioning how you could incorporate into your landscape more edibles and support plants to create an aesthetically pleasing and ultra-productive garden. Just click here to see the design/consultation services we can provide.
Taking Your First Steps: Perennial Vegetables
If you've gotten comfortable with a traditional veggie garden with annual species (those that we replant each year) consider adding a perennial vegetable bed. These plants remain year after year and create an ecosystem where each species benefits the others.
A garden like this could include:
Asparagus - shades the plants from the hot summer sun with its ferns.
Horseradish – the deep roots bring nutrients up into their leaves and the leaves will feed the other plants in the bed.
Strawberries – act as a ground cover to keep the soil moist.
Rhubarb – shades the soil.
Each plant has a function and helps the other plants in the bed.
Why transition your garden or yard towards permaculture?
It uses local (and often free) resources to grow food and be more self-sufficient.
It's a low-maintenance approach (once your landscape plants are established).
It increases biodiversity - let nature back into your land!
Nourishing your soil by practicing permaculture sequesters carbon. You are actually doing good for the world!
Resources to Learn More About Permaculture
In our opinion, one of the best introductions to permaculture is Toby Hemenway's book Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-scale Permaculture.
This film done by National Geographic is an excellent summary and tour of a food forest in the South of England. Well worth the 3 minutes spent watching!
Are you trying to imagine what your tiny backyard might be able to produce were you to use permaculture methods to grow your food? Take a look at this well-done film about a garden just over 1000 sq ft garden.
UMass was the first college campus to start a permaculture garden to grow food for their cafeteria. This video is actually a TED talk that explains why and how they built their garden and a home-scale permaculture garden too.
Join Resilient Roots at a permablitz or workshop to learn how you could transform part of your yard into a permaculture garden. If you are not on our email list sign up here and you will get notices when we have events.
Ratatouille is a delicious and versatile dish that is perfect for cool, late summer nights. The base ingredients - tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, onion, and garlic - are all in abundance now. See how much you can source from your garden, or from other local growers!
Feel free to adapt this recipe based on your tastes and fresh ingredients on hand. For a complete meal, pair with chickpeas or hummus on crusty bread. Bon Appetit!
Late Summer Ratatouille
(adapted from Delish.com)
Serves 4, easily doubled (it saves well)
2 medium summer squash (zukes or pattypans) sliced into 1/4 " coins
2 medium eggplant, diced into 1/2" pieces
2 bell peppers, cut into 1/4" spears
2 c. diced tomatoes (cherry and plum varieties work best!)
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic
1/2 c. dry white wine
Olive oil for cooking
Freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
Small bunch of fresh basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (if desired)
(Salting and frying the eggplant separately keeps it from being too soft in the final dish. We recommend it, but it is a matter of time and preference). Dice eggplant and toss with a big pinch of salt. Let sit for about 20 minutes, then pat dry to remove excess moisture. In a large pot, heat 1 tablespoon oil. Add eggplant and season with salt and pepper. Cook until golden brown (about 5 minutes) then remove.
Add another tablespoon of oil to your pot. Add onion, bell peppers, and bay leaf and cook, stirring occasionally until onion and pepper begin to turn tender about 6 minutes.
Add the white wine, stir well to combine, and reduce until most of the liquid has evaporated.
Stir in zucchini (and eggplant, if you skipped step 1) and cook until tender, about 4 minutes more. Stir in garlic, cherry tomatoes, and oregano.
Season mixture with red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally until the tomatoes start to break down. Turn off heat.
Add the eggplant back to the pot and stir to combine. Garnish with basil and serve warm or at room temperature with good bread, or on a bed of brown rice or barley.
Don't Panic, Eat Organic! Switching from a diet of "conventional" to organically grown food can dramatically reduce pesticide residue in your body - perhaps as much as 70% in just six days. This according to peer-reviewed research on glyphosate, the cancer-causing chemical found in RoundUp and sprayed on much of our field crops in the US, and others. See the original research papers here and here.
Three Things You Can Do to Help Avoid Climate Disaster. A quick read from YES! Media, the answers might be different than you think (hint: lift up your neighbors).