Seed Swaps

Permaculture Journal Entry 2

08 May 2011
Sunny 26°C / 79°F

Permaculture is grounded in ecology, with the goal being sustainable development. The first exercises are in observation, getting to know the land, the climate, the plants and animals, and learning to observe and make connections between what we observe (see, hear, smell, feel) and what is happening in the ecosystem about us. Mollinson states that observation is important because it is a way of working with nature rather than against it; of looking at systems and all their functions instead of asking only one yield; and of allowing systems to evolve (cited in Morrow, 1993). Morrow further states that through observation we will find the origins and solutions to many problems.

The first exercise Morrow (1993) sets is to walk outside or look through a window and record what one sees. While recording, the idea is to try to find correlations between one’s observations where possible. My first exercise is recorded hereunder. While I continue to observe and record in my notebook, I see no purpose in duplicating entries here as the exercise below should be a sufficient demonstration.

Morning Rounds, 7.30 am, Wed 20 Apr 2011
• The ground is wet, it has rained overnight. Watering is not needed this morning.
• Peaceful doves are sitting on power lines.
• The grass is green and damp. Mowed areas are drier, longer grass and weeds hold moisture in the soil. Plants among the grasses are less stressed.
• The ducks follow me on my walk around the garden.
• The frangipani has dropped most of its leaves now.
• Cassava leaves are looking wilted, it will drop them soon.
• The murraya has a lot of seedlings growing underneath.
• In the vegie patch the sweet basil is flowering. It is lying underneath a lot of debris but branches have poked through.
• The bird chilli leaves are withered even after rain –doused the plant with milk to deter any root mealy bug. The weather is dry and warm – perfect conditions for mealy bug.
• I picked a handful of snake beans. Some are infested with scale but the plants are robust enough to overcome this without intervention.
• I inspected the vines creeping through the vetiver grass. The furry leaved twiner is the dark pea flowered weed. The other smooth leaved vine I’ve been watching is developing buds, small and round in shape. I think these may be the soybeans I planted in the wet season.

The next part of this exercise is to observe and record what one hears, smells and feels:
• Peaceful doves are calling.
• Ducks are quietly quacking to each other in and around the vegie patch.
• Finches are chirping in the tea tree and along the front fence.
• The slow, repeated “craw” sound of an unidentified bird can be heard out back.
• The incessant buzzing of mosquitoes and the sound of a myriad of insects in the garden and the surrounding cane fields fills the air.
• The steady dripping of water in the downpipes, either through condensation or from a light shower overnight, can be heard. Water can be directed – through channels or hoses; stored in pot plants, in the soil, or in the plants themselves; or collected in containers or water tanks.

• Crushed a leaf to identify a plant, the aroma and flower prove it to be sweet basil.
• The smell of cut grass is in the air, as is the smell of damp grass.
NB: Unfortunately my limited sense of smell curtails my ability to do little more.

• The caress of a gentle breeze
• The warmth of the morning sun
• Dampness underfoot as my shoes absorb moisture from the grass.
• The flutter of mosquitoes against my skin as they search for a spot without repellent, the sting when they find one.
• The crispness of dry leaves hanging from dead plants and those going dormant for winter.
• The softness of the basil leaf.
• The sharpness of the vetiver grass blades.
• The leathery feel of the withered bird chilli leaves.
• The crispness of dry stalks of cassava cuttings that have not struck.
• The leatheriness of the pawpaw trunk that withered following the crop duster flying overhead some weeks back.

The exercise should be repeated each day and one should gradually become aware of seasonal changes which are important for design.

Additionally, one should look for resources that can be used later when designing the garden. Morrow (1993) suggests that old bricks, timber, straw, grass clippings, old fruit trees, often other people’s rubbish, can become resources, and their location, quality and possible uses should be noted.

Morrow, R., (1993) Earth User’s Guide to Permaculture, Kangaroo Press, Australia.

Next: Permaculture Journal Entry 3
Previous: Permaculture Journal Entry 1



Yes I’m now at a stage where I do the see, hear, smell and feel exercise every day in my garden. More than once! It really does make you appreciate everything that is great in nature and the world around us. I think it’s something that should be recommended for everyone.

Posted on 17 Jul 11 (almost 5 years ago)

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