A bit of genius
The best way to save time, effort and maximise the potential of the space is to be organised. This is a fundamental fact of permaculture. You may have heard of zoning or design in this context. It is a determining factor. But in this article I would like to go a little further and introduce you to the Obredim method, as it is practiced in permaculture.
It is an acronym that comes straight from England and more precisely from its civil engineering.
I will not dwell on the observation, which I have already described at length in previous articles. What do we mean by 'border'? It is necessary to approach this theme in its broadest interpretations. Do you have a hedge, a wall? Are you surrounded by houses, fields, vineyards, forests? What are the laws in force? Take into account the opinions of your neighbours, the time and money you can devote to your garden. And if you have a bad back or a bad knee, what type of landscaping will be the most suitable.
The question of resources implies asking questions about the fauna, the flora, one's physical and material resources as well as one's friends and neighbours. An apple tree does not only produce apples. It also produces shade, wood, mulch for compost, and flowers for pollinators. Hazel branches can be used for constructions or as stakes. In addition to being beautiful, the flowers attract bees, and some can be eaten. The sun can be turned into electricity and your gutters, diverted, can collect rainwater. And you can exchange knowledge, skills, tools and glasses with your neighbours.
Every element around you is a reservoir of resources, often multiple.
Once these three steps have been completed, it is time for an evaluation. What to do, where and how. What can I build around the existing elements? How can I generate positive and fruitful interactions between the different resources available? The aim is to reduce the cost and energy involved as much as possible. And to do this, it is vital to prioritise what is possible and what is important. If you can only invest 10 minutes a day, which is already great, there is no point in embarking on overly ambitious projects. If you want chickens, will your garden feed them? Will you use city water, which you will pay for, or will you collect rainwater?
The principle is to generate a productive dialogue in order to give a real meaning to your garden so that it becomes, over the years, autonomous. The place must be able to feed itself. You will have to ask yourself dozens, hundreds of jubilant questions. But don't let them stop you. Start, they will follow.
The next point is design. The fruits of observations and evaluations.
This is an activity you can do with your children. Get a large sheet of paper, some coloured markers and get started! The aim is to define zones from 0 to 5 according to the principle "out of sight, out of mind". Zone 0 is the home. I mean, it's the place where you spend most of your time, which is usually the case. Zone 1 is where you spend the most time outside. This is where you will put everything that is most demanding of your time and attention. And also what you will use most often. If you love basil or want a chicken coop, zone 1 is ideal.
The following zones flow according to the decreasing importance of visits and care. Your raspberry tree in zone 2, your cherry tree in 3, an oak tree in 4 and nature, which you will leave completely wild in zone 5. Even on 15m2 of land, even in a flat, it is crucial to build space, to question our presence and our movements.
Implementation (or Realisation)
And everything, on paper, becomes clear. All that remains is to install, to set up. You can get stressed or excited. But the main thing is to dare. You will see in this blog that there are things to do in the garden every month. And the act of watching, like the writer, reading back, will last as long as your passion for your garden. There are no mistakes, just research. So dare, plant, follow, watch, love, harvest, eat, share.
Maintenance is obviously the follow-up. The daily passage, the watering, the adjustments. Asking yourself if you should remove this "weed" or let it live in and feed the soil. The better the observation and evaluation, the better the design and installation. And therefore reduces the maintenance effort.
It is the human in his science, the quality of his eye and his analysis married to the genius of nature, which knows so much about what it has to do, that makes the good gardener and the rich garden. A dialogue, I said. A love story. Seeing and loving. Making people see and loving. And learning to see and to do in order to learn to love seeing and loving to do.
We do not contain life. It does not contain only us, it does not need us. It offers itself in beauty and offers itself for us to interact with. But the whole world can be your garden, even your balcony. Be the world!