I recently voluntarily added a new item to my list of responsibilities. When I was in the US this summer, I attended a Permaculture Design Course. I was so inspired by the principles of permaculture, which aim to leave the world a better place than we found it, that I have started experimenting with permaculture at the CGE Namibia site. I’m starting out small, trying to see what works in this urban desert environment. Step by step, I plan to add more and more permaculture design features to our landscape. So far, we have planted tomatoes, lettuce, passion fruit, lemon verbena, pomegranate, fig, mint, lemon grass and rosemary. These are all surrounded by a mulch of locally available leaves, grass clippings, flower petals, etc (basically anything I could find). The mulch helps to keep out unplanned plants, keeps water in the soil, keeps the soil cool and helps to fertilize the soil.
The pot standing on top of a white tube in the middle is our worm tower! We throw our kitchen food scraps into the tower, where the worms eagerly devour it and spread the nutrients into the soil through holes in the tube which they can crawl in and out of. The pot is on top to keep out flies and other non-worm species. We also need to keep the worms moist so we pour some water into the tower regularly. This also helps to keep water in the soil. The worms also aerate and soften the soil as they crawl around and fertilize it.
Future plans include adding more worm towers (we produce a lot of food waste and the worms don’t travel that far away from the tower, so we could certainly use more), using grey water from the laundry (when people use natural cleaning products) to water the plants, adding more plants, continuing to learn and add what works well to keep our little plot in harmony with nature’s processes, absorbing greenhouse gases, processing our waste naturally, and producing usable resources (food!).
While I really don’t have a lot of “free time” to spend in the garden during a work day, a 10 minute break now and again makes a big difference on our little garden, and makes a HUGE difference in my productivity level in the office the rest of the day. I’ll be sure to keep you updated as our dabbles in the world of permaculture expand and evolve over time!