I'm a newbie in permaculture. I've watched few films and read a bit about permaculture, and right now it's time to practice it. I have a part of the vegetable garden, like 24 m2 rectangle. it's in between the existant vegetable garden parts, a fruit tree and bush. There's just a lawn right now. There is a qualitative compost near. No slope. I live in Latvia, so the climate is a bit colder and more wet than average. If you need some other information, just ask.
So, I wanted to ask where to start, what to do? What are the main principles, the main methods I should use? Sorry for this non specific questions, as I said, I'm really just a beginner, never really worked on land.
Probably the easiest and most sure fire way to turn your lawn into a garden would be the lasagna method. While it takes time to build an optimum soil with this method, you can start planting in it before that point. Now by lawn, there can be different definitions around the world. I'm assuming you mean a grass sod that is mowed on a regular basis. In this case, I'd recommend letting the area you plan on converting to a garden bed get very overgrown, (at least 1 foot, or 1/3 meter; preferably more.) The cut the grass down and use it as the first layer in your lasagna bed. Cut the grass as close to the soil level as possible. I'd cover that with some compost and then some fallen leaves if available. If not, the grass alone will do just fine to start with. The cut grass should initially form a layer several inches (10cm or so) thick. This will initially mat down and form a layer that should be able to keep most weeds from sprouting and the heat from the grasses initial decomposition may be enough to kill or at least send most weed seeds into a deep dormancy. You can also use discarded newspaper, cardboard and such but there are issues with that such as chemicals in the inks and glues that I won't get into here. You do some research on that use them to your own comfort level. If you don't have a grass sod lawn, you could also plant a cover crop such as any grain or legume or mixed cover crop. Just let it grow up and then cut it down as described above. I hope this will get you started. I'm sure others on here can provide some other excellent advice, and I'll check back on this thread later. Converting lawn to garden is a topic I'm interested in and have been learning as much as I can about it in the past few years.
Like you, I am a newbie, and being one, I think it is important to stick into our minds that doing permaculture is a process. There. If I were you, I’d start by analysing what I would want in that 24 sq.m of flat land. If I want a vegetable garden, together with it, I’d identify other components that relates to myself and are related among them, for example, 3 chickens that would roam during the day in a portion of the area , produce chicken dung for the soil, meat and eggs for me? a small pond (with plenty of edges ) to collect rain water therefore creating an environment for frogs, insects, etc? a compost heap or not since I might want to use the lasagna method as suggested by jeremiah bailey. Once I have identified these components: vegetable plants, pond, and chicken then I may then elaborate what are the things needed to realize them, what techniques, where exactly in the area, still other components that dould be connected with them, etc. You might need to fence-secure your area from wild mammals perhaps? you have a bush nearby… Analysis is an exercise that functions two ways: rationalizes every action we plan to do, and identifies what responsibilities we want to be faced with. Just my two cents…
Well, I can use just the 24 sq m territory, so it's no other structures. There's not a large enviroment to expand. Also there are no animals, and I'm vegetarian, so no interest in that too. No need for a fence.
Well, I was stoked of Sepp Holzer way, so I thought do I need to sow everything orderly or I could just mix everything up with a large diversity? how much do I need plants which won't give any vegetables, but provide the enviroment, like deep rooted plants for example?
...the more the merrier...both annual and perennial plants. what vegetables do you eat, what nutrients do your plants need? from where do you get the nutrients needed by your plants? in what manner do you help the plants have access to this? do you intend to get nitrogen sources for your plants from nitrogen fixing plants?or do you introduce composted/aged manure? some questions you may want to ask yourself
you might want to first analyze what you really use and would use if you grew it..whether it be a food crop or for firewood, animal fodder, basketry or whatever..
make an extensive list..to help you do this go to a few garden catalogs or books and go a to z (or whatever your alphabet), and make a list of what items you would really love to grow.
then find out if they 'll grow in your climate..i eat bananas but can't grow them in Michigan USA
then also find out about expense costs..if something is cheaper right now to buy than to grow, look at the things that cost you more to buy and would be easy to grow in your zones/climate,.
then also look at permanence..fruit trees, perennial crops like asparagus, rhubarb, etc, should always go in first if they are something you use, as well as berries, vines..etc.
plan those permanent areas well as they will be with you for a long time.
put your things in an order that will make sense..say if you are walking the path to your garden, you might want a compost pile closeby to throw in garden waste, and or chickens or other animal pens close enough to toss things over the fence to them, and also be able to toss the manure into the close by compost pile, etc.. it is likely in your climate that things that you'll want to et in soon are potatoes and greens as these are pretty basic in northern areas, also other root crops if you use them such as carrots, beets, and your cole crops if you use them..hyou should still have time to work on areas for tender crops after that.
if you can purchase soil in bags yhou can start planting right in them until you can get the rest of the garden area cleared for growing, check out the mother earth site online as theyh had an article about growing in bags in last months magazine. bags can be set right on the grass..slashed on the bottom and top cut off to plant.
water should also be easily available to the house, garden and also to the animals
Bloom where you are planted.
Brenda Groth wrote: you might want to first analyze what you really use and would use if you grew it..
I think this is an important idea. balance it against what you can get locally for purchase or trade at low cost, and use you garden to help you. Also a perennial food garden may offer you different foods then you are used to eating. It is useful to explore these foods and determine what you like (nettles, fiddleheads, wild greens…)
Some early actions:
Identify the plants that are already growing there.
Some throughts: If you don't have lots of money, propogating your own plants is necessary. Whenever I get to a new site I start with collecting seeds and cuttings, and build relationships with other gardeners that way.
I read that the climate is affected by the ocean, creating mild summers, but the winters are long, dark, and cold, and snow can be deep. I would observe how many hours of direct sun you have in different parts of your garden, and if the climate is altered by buildings, wind or reflected light. This may strongly determine what you grow.
Some people like to plan. Others like to just get something growing and dance in chaos. Your choice. While I like the 'lasagne/sheet mulch' approach, I am also a big fan of turning the soil and planting clovers, and radishes, and other species that will enrich the soil. It depends in part what you local waste materials look like. Do you have lots of manure available? spoiled straw? Bulk seeds? arborist wood chips?