Michael Cox wrote:One of the foundational ideas of permaculture is "people care". It is totally legitimate to discard practices if they make things harder for people. For example, polycultures sound good on paper, but are less efficient. But what "efficient" means in this context is that some actual flesh and bones human has to spend more time planting, more time weeding, more time cultivating, more time harvesting. And many of those tasks are physically demanding by their very nature.
Kate Downham wrote:In some ways I don’t really like to use the word “efficiency” in the title of this thread, as it brings to mind vast fields of “efficient” monoculture. On the other extreme is gardens I’ve planted in the past where there are so many different plants growing that to harvest a decent amount of a particular plant for a meal, I’d have to dart back and forth between the different plants scatted all over the garden, and I’d sometimes forget where things were and what needed harvesting.
After reading more about root exudates in Paul and Shawn's book, I began to wonder again about polycultures, and if there are ways to grow them that would still be reasonably easy to harvest on a large family or small CSA scale?
One thing I am doing is mixing up the crop rotation ideas I gleaned from The Market Gardener, but instead of having a full bed of carrots, a full bed of lettuces, and so on, I will fill up a 2 1/2 feet wide raised bed with a row of carrots, a row of turnips, a row of radishes, a row of lettuces, a row of beetroots, and so on. This makes it easy for me to harvest bunches of things for market or big meals, while still offering some of the benefits of polyculture.
In my round chicken-tractor beds, I am mixing things up more, following some of Linda Woodrow's ideas mixed with my own cold/temperate climate experience, but I still find myself putting direct-seeded plants together in rows or clumps, and planting quite a lot of one thing at once.
Does anyone have ideas about ways to grow lots of food for a large family or small community while growing things in polyculture?
Are there any guild combinations of annuals and/or perennials that have worked really well for you?
Which perennial greens and other perennial plants are good for feeding lots of people?