One of the key roles of permaculture is showing how, by following certain ethics and principles, we can work towards overcoming obstacles – in food production and in other areas of our lives. Today, as many work towards creating their kitchen garden, or making a plan for the coming year, I thought it might be helpful to mention how a few common obstacles can be overcome:
Obstacle 1: Lack of Space
Many people feel that a lack of space is what is stopping them from creating a kitchen garden. But you can create a kitchen garden even indoors, or in the smallest of outside spaces. To overcome this obstacle, make sure you look at the vertical space as well as the horizontal, and layer plants in space and time to make the most of every inch available.
Obstacle 2: Low Budget
You definitely don’t need to spend a fortune to get started with growing your own. Some cost saving ideas include swapping seeds and plants with friends or neighbours, borrowing tools or sourcing them second hand, and making use of natural and reclaimed resources to create beds, for containers, and to maintain fertility in your garden over time. Even simple things like weeds, or grass clippings, or dried leaves, can be useful resources.
Obstacle 3: Water Shortage
In areas where water can be in short supply, it is important to understand that there are lots of strategies that can be employed, both to catch and store, and to conserve water in your garden. Set up rainwater harvesting systems, solar condensers, or even fog catchers… manage soil and plants, and undertake earthworks to keep water around. Mulch well, and consider drip irrigation. Or consider growing in water rather soil, in hydroponic or aquaponic systems, which use less water overall.
Obstacle 4: Poor Soil
Poor soil in your garden is another common issue. But this definitely does not have to be the end of your garden aspirations. Over time, even the poorest of soils can be improved. Start out over a small area, taking a no dig approach and building up fertile growing areas on top of the soil. Add perennial planting to improve soil conditions, and provide organic matter. Slowly but surely, you can build better soil and create a thriving, biodiverse garden.
Obstacle 5: Limited Time
Many of us feel pushed for time. But even when you don’t have much time to tend a garden, you can still grow your own. Especially if you take a little time up front to set up a forest garden, which will involve far less maintenance than an annual kitchen garden long term. Alternatively, just start slow and small, to keep things manageable.