Permaculture #9. Accelerating Succession and Evolution

Breaking down the permaculture principles from “Permaculture Ethics & Principles” from New England Permaculture Homestead.

Building a New England Homestead

One of the many ways that permaculture mimics nature is by creating an “orchard” that is more like a forest.  The food forest.  In nature, forests develop through succession.  If, for any reason, a forest is destroyed, it will repopulate itself through a series of different kinds of plants that will eventually grow into a new forest.  Rather than waiting 50 years for a food forest to develop, we accelerate the whole process so that in 5-10 years we have a productive food forest.

First, let me describe briefly the succession of a forest in nature:

Pioneer plants grow in less than adequate soil.  In general, gardeners call these plants weeds.  However, weeds are often very helpful plants.  They are able to grow in less than perfect soil and make it better for the next group of plants. They have taproots that go deep into the ground and bring the…

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