Is traditional gardening or permaculture gardening best for the new gardener?

Hi! I have never run a garden, chicken coop or raised rabbits. I watched Marjory's intro videos which are geared to traditional farming methods. (Thanks you Marjory for these great videos btw.) I am really interested in permaculture and integrating local plants (some might call weeds) into my gardening practice. I really like how Marjory lays out and says this is the quickest way to get a start growing your own food, and I 100% agree that times are not good and likely will get more difficult in regard to having reliable food sources. I'm looking to the community here to guide in which direction I should start, traditional or permaculture. I also definitely want to incorporate medicinal herbs, maybe even cannabis etc. What's best for the new food grower who wants to get things up and running as quickly as possible? I should add I am in zone 4B, Wisconsin. Blessings to all! @Marjory Wildcraft

Answers

  • Monek Marie
    Monek Marie Posts: 3,537 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited March 2022

    @ChrisHaukoos Have you had any gardening experience before? Do you have a small plot of land, live in an area with HOA or other restrictions? Are you doing this alone or with family and friends?

    All of these questions would make a difference on how you proceed.

    Personally as a person who had a lot to learn I would do a combination of both traditional and permaculture. By traditional I mean a more maintained garden (raised beds or wide rows) then branch out and use more permaculture methods you learn. Food forests or stacking principles.

    Small steps help with success more than taking on too and falling behind so decide what is most important to you. A garden with fresh food and possibly canning, freezing or drying food to put aside? How much food do you need to help support your family? Can some of this food be foraged free where you live? Are there nut trees or berry bushes or shrubs available? Could you barter or trade with friends or neighbors to give you more and help with time?

    Some wild edibles and definitely herbs blend in with gardens easily. Also consider perennial vegetables or fruits for less work in the spring. And edible flowers - get the most use out of your flowers, add color and pollination to your yard and land.

    Maybe a few small animals to see if its something you like. With animals you have to plan ahead to have a safe place for them to live without predators attacking them.

    I love permaculture. I used these methods before I knew what the word was.

    It sounds like you have a wonderful adventure ahead of you.

  • Monek Marie
    Monek Marie Posts: 3,537 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @ChrisHaukoos And welcome to the group. When you have time check out our rules and regulations for the group. And please intorduce yourself. You may find you have a community member that lived close by!~

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,640 admin

    Welcome to TGN's forum @ChrisHaukoos.

    @Monek Marie has made very good suggestions.

    Small steps are good. A big garden right out of the gate can be overwhelming. Be prepared for failures, we've all had them, sometimes an error on the gardener's part but often weather, disease, insects and critters are tough to battle. Don't let them discourage you.

    Foraging is a great way to add to your food supply. We have lots of discussions here in the forum on wild foods and medicinals.

    TGN's Academy has lots of courses that will help you get started in whatever you choose. Gardening courses from the soil up through growing to seed saving. And then there are the courses on preserving your harvest. Animal husbandry includes egg production, sheep, goats, rabbits and ducks. Do you have any experience with medicinal herbs? The Academy has courses for that, too.

    Don't be afraid to ask questions. We have lots of experienced people on the forum who are very willing to share their knowledge and make your first starts successful ones.

  • jowitt.europe
    jowitt.europe Posts: 1,454 admin

    @ChrisHaukoos welcome from me as well. The Network is a right place to give questions and get answers. There are so many experienced participants here.

    I can only second what @Monek Marie and @torey already wrote. I have vegetable and herbal garden and bees and chicken. All in one. Plants support plants, bees and chicken make use of the flowers, herbs and leftovers...

    But for the start it is better to use a clear and structured way. This is the way how I learn. First follow the rules almost blindly and, once experience is gained - experiment. I love experimenting, thus, in the end, there is not much left of the initial gardening. But one has to learn the basics and develop the feeling. Then the knowledge is in the fingertips. And cherish failures and mistakes - this is the best school. Then you know what not to do.

    when you have questions about gardening just ask

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,980 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited March 2022

    Permaculture is still an area where pioneers and experimenters rule. The methods are still in flux, and there is tremendous variation between what works in one place vs. elsewhere.

    Also, it takes years to get a permaculture garden established and begin getting a significant harvest.

    If you want to experiment with permaculture, and expect to continue living at your current location for years, go ahead and try some small-scale permaculture. _Paradise Lot_ by Eric Toensmeier may give you ideas.

    But if you need to produce a significant amount of food for yourself and your family, if you are concerned about food shortages and inflation, and want to get a decent sized harvest in 2022, you should definitely focus on annual crops.

    There is a lot of information available here at TGN to get you started. Welcome!

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,519 admin

    @ChrisHaukoos I want to add my welcome as well. 👋 You've already got some awesome advice above, so all I can do is echo it.

    Many here know gardening, permaculture & animal husbandry well. It is a journey and not something that someone can do without doing things one step at a time.

    Now, if you do have others working with you, especially some that have helpful skills, you may be able to sit down & make a plan together (a written plan is wise and can be altered or added to over time). You could designate a person to heading up each project. Someone could head up chickens, someone else, bees, someone else, traditional garden, the other fruits...you get the idea. They could become the experts in that area and you could all learn & accomplish more steps faster this way.

    Be prepared to save seed. Seed to Seed (Suzanne Ashworth) is a good book. Many here have recognized that buying the seed you want may get more difficult over time.

    Check out our recommended book section. It is always growing. Good books are a great resource that won't crash...so more reliable, of course! I have a huge library of farming/homesteading/skills/foraging/herbal/self sufficiency books.

    Find an experienced mentor close by as well. They will know your area and how the climate & local soil work. Listen closely & write their advice down. A good mentor is worth a lot!

    I know traditional farm skills (many here do too). My background and heroes were my homesteading grandparents. My grandfather started off doing everything manually (clearing his deeded land by hand, log building, hunting, trapping, farming with horses, and having the most productive garden for miles). They very much lived off the land and as much as they were poor money-wise, lacked nothing and had the respect of neighbors. That was back when community was necessary & actually meant something.

    I have a passion for heritage farm animals, and I currently breed heritage chickens and have had ducks. I have posted much of what you'd need to know that may not be covered in Marjory's classes (so filling the gaps) in the Birds area of the forum under Back 40.

    We also have other farm animals & our own jersey milk cows...but I have no idea how large your tract of land is...some here have goats, which can be better suited to a smaller space.

    I am in zone 3 in Manitoba, Canada, to give you a bit of an idea what we deal with. So, often fairly dry summers, some years, lots of snow, a dry cold and temps down to -40°C to -50°C can easily happen here in winter.

    Please keep asking questions, post pictures & updates! We'd all love to help you as you build your project and cheer you on.

  • judsoncarroll4
    judsoncarroll4 Posts: 5,461 admin

    I think it is best to start with biointensive gardening or square foot. Permaculture is a design system of which gardening is only one aspect. Learning to garden in a more natural way is just one aspect. That is especially true when it comes to annuals. The first step in permaculture is observation. You need time, even a few years to really get to know a property - sun angles, warm spots, frost pockets, etc, etc. Then, you can begin establishing perennial vegetables, berry bushes, fruit and nut trees, long term herbs, water features, farming the woods, mushrooms, etc. Now, you might learn to raise chickens in a chicken coop or tractor, next year figure out a better place to put them and how to integrate them into your system so as to lessen inputs, including work, and maximize outputs. A simple annual/kitchen garden and learning to compost are great places to start.

  • dipat2005
    dipat2005 Posts: 1,279 ✭✭✭✭

    @ChrisHaukoos Welcome! I have done square foot gardening for a long time and really enjoy it and I try to do raised bed gardening. If you use the right kind of soil you can usually get rid of a lot of the bugs. I have learned many things from these wonderful gardeners.

    I live in a downstairs apartment and I have been fortunate to have outside small gardening places to plant my vegetables.

  • ChrisHaukoos
    ChrisHaukoos Posts: 12 ✭✭✭
    edited April 2022

    Thanks everyone for your great comments and advice! It sounds to me like I should go with what Marjory says in the 72 hour video that I finished watching last night. Seems like the fastest way to get producing, glad to hear the other comments from you all on this, then work into the permaculture etc as time goes. The video talks about raised bed garden on cinder blocks, some chickens (cold weather chickens, thinking about Australorps after some research) and rabbits that can withstand the temperature extremes, it can range from -30 degrees F in winter to 100+ degrees F in the summer here. I would like to add a good fence around the raised beds, we have a lot of critters like raccoons, possums, and rabbits around here, so would have to protect it, also birds and insects. I am a caretaker for my parents who are both almost 80 and can't provide for themselves, I might get some very limited help from them now and again, but I am surely alone on this. I'm sure their health would definitely improve with my gardening!

    From what I see, there doesn't seem to be much of a sense of community around here, this town is around a 1,000 people, I see there are some folks that garden. I have a commercial farmer 2 blocks from me on one side and a river about 2 blocks from me on the west side, which is cool. I asked the farmer if he raised his crops and he said no, (I didn't tell him, but that sure was a disappointment!) All in good time, maybe I can somehow talk the city into a community garden, but I don't really believe in government intervention, all politics aside of course. Thanks again to everyone that commented and I look forward to reading and learning from all the great people here.

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,640 admin

    @ChrisHaukoos There are other options besides asking the governing bodies for assistance with community gardens. Often churches will have space that can be used. I know of at least two churches in my general area that are doing this. Sometimes schools have gardening programs that may involve the public.

    Just because you have mentioned cinder blocks, I'll leave a link to a discussion here on the forum about cinder blocks vs cement blocks. Also some info on treated wood.


  • ChrisHaukoos
    ChrisHaukoos Posts: 12 ✭✭✭

    @torey Thanks for that info! I don't see the link for the discussion about cinder blocks. Where can I find it? Thanks again.

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,640 admin

    The link is posted above in the treated wood discussion. The cinder block section is a few comments down.

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,980 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @ChrisHaukoos Your parents may have significant gardening knowledge from their younger years. Even if they are not physically able to help, they may have good advice for you. It's worth asking them.

  • ChrisHaukoos
    ChrisHaukoos Posts: 12 ✭✭✭
    edited April 2022

    @VermontCathy that's a good point, I appreciate that advice. I'm sorry to say though that with my Dad's mental impairment, he doesn't even remember much of what happened yesterday or this morning, so going back to that point, he has no recollection. I did ask him about gardening a few days ago, and he didn't remember even after giving him some prompts stories of past times. Thanks for the nice thought though, it would really be great to get them involved. My best hope is getting them some good fresh grown food, maybe some of my future garden medicinals & herbs, maybe that will help his mental clarity some extent. As to my Mom, she wasn't as involved with the garden as my father was back 30 or so years ago.

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,640 admin

    @ChrisHaukoos Try using the search bar and look for "memory". There are a few discussions that might be helpful with suggestions of herbs, diet choices and aromatherapy. Lion's mane has had excellent results for a couple of my clients.

  • ChrisHaukoos
    ChrisHaukoos Posts: 12 ✭✭✭

    @torey Thanks for the helpful tips. I will go thru using your recommend search keyword "memory." I started giving Dad an Alfa Vedic blend of several mushrooms including Lion's Mane for a couple of days. It's called "Illumined Shrooms." "Potent organic extracts of Cordyceps, Reishi, Agaricus blazei, Turkey Tail, Lion’s Mane, Chaga & pure Fulvic Minerals." I found that it didn't help him. I was really disappointed. I also started giving him Alpha-GPC choline capsules the last few days which don't seem to be doing anything either. The choline is supposed to help deficiencies of acetylcholine, which I thought might be the case as with Alzheimer's Disease.