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minimizing edge?

 
pollinator
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Permaculture tries to abstract principles from the patterns seen in the natural world, and apply them to our designs. Many natural systems maximize edge; it increases diversity, and speeds transfer of energy and minerals. From sponges to woodland to our lungs, this is a common pattern.

However, when applied to a garden, there are some problems . . . diversity does increase, a diversity of weeds! The more edge (rocks, log edgings, winding paths, random perennials) the more weeds. Also more work, even beyond the weeding.

Are there any natural systems that purposefully minimize edge? The only one I can think of is the ears of Wooly Mammoths; they had much smaller ears than African elephants, presumably to minimize heat loss.
 
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I'm thinking there are many examples...

Tree trunks are round instead of snowflake shaped to conserve volume vs strength

Rivers flow in smooth straightish paths (when they have enough flow)

Many animals are roundish shaped (myself included).  Possibly to minimize the amount of heat loss, skin needed, etc

The profile of a fish is pretty smooth and streamlined to minimize friction causing edge effects

Anything moving fast tends to be designed to minimize edge and friction (falcons, cheetahs)

Nuts and seeds are often spherical to give the maximum life force for the minimum package size/energy
 
Gilbert Fritz
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Great examples Mike!
 
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Permaculture as in food forest at its core seems to want to minimize garden space. Saying that I should cut down on swiss chard and instead plant junk lavender, tansy, comfrey and marigold. All so that I don't have to import as much pesticide/fertilizer onsite.
But was that really a good trade off. I am told to chop and drop vs spray herbicide. But what if my back hurts.
 
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I don't know of the things I do would be considered permaculture to people here or anywhere for that matter. I do know, my annual gardens are treated and handled much differently than my food forest. In my annual gardens, I plant nice straight rows or blocks of things, the garden is a square, and as you said, I minimize edge. Things are laid out for ease of planting and harvesting.

In my food forest, nothing is in a row, plants are mixed everywhere, edge is maximized, most things are perennial, and things kind of battle it out to find their proper places.  Space is used for brush piles, toad houses, meandering paths, places to sit. My dog is buried there and has a rock pile over his grave.  Ashes of loved ones are spread throughout . Flowers, herbs, vegetables, trees, and bushes all have a home there. It's much more chaotic, and it has an entirely different feel than my garden. Its peaceful and calming like a place in a story book. Efficiency of planting or harvesting has no place there. It's a place for wandering, and wonder, and the magic of nature. There are no rules.

I'm perfectly fine with the seeming disconnect between the two ways of doing things.
 
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