Hello, everybody... this is my first post in this newsgroup and I'm
very excited to talk to y'all.
I'm a novice / intermediate permaculture enthusiast in Santa Cruz
County (California... think redwoods) and I'm completely sold on the
idea of self regulating systems of planting: groups of plants that work
well together to create a long term self-regulating equilibrium. These
are called Communities, Guilds, and Polycultures. For the simplicity
of language, I'll call them all guilds from now on (please forgive my
ignorance now and for the rest of my post). This form of gardening is
definitely new and still experimental, but many examples still abound,
which I shall go into in a moment.
First, I would just like to ask, if anybody out there has any
experience with such systems, please take a moment and share your
knowledge with the rest of us. You'll be contributing greatly to our
wealth of knowledge. In particular I'm curious if anybody has any
experience with guilds in the Santa Cruz region with slightly acidic
sandy loam and tan oak / redwood /
grassland steep terrain. Oh yeah,
I've got a good amount of sun, considering. I'm interested in food
crops mainly, but hey, I'm aesthetically minded too.
Please... share with me as I am about to with the rest of you...
Some of the existing systems I know of are courtesy of Toby Hemenway,
the brilliant author of "Gaia's Gardens: A Guide to Homescale
Permaculture". I'm, planning to use keyhole beds as my main design
I would like to preface this by saying I don't have the time to fully
explain the guilds that I'm writing about, I can only give you the
plants and a rough explanation of what they do. If you want to learn
more, please have a look see at the book. If you know of any other
books that are great, I'd love to hear about them... but I'd like an in
depth post even more!
The number 1 common sense guild is the Three (3) Sisters guild, which
consists of corn, squash, and pole beans all in the same bed. I read
that you can also use Honeybush as a 4th sister in dry places (should I
plant that too?) The basic, rough idea is that the squash hang out
down low, the corn grows high, and the beans use the corn as a
trellace. There's a lot more going on though, believe you me... (like
root levels, insects, and birds and nitrogen fixing) just have a look
at the book, buddy.
This is a summertime crop, though, and we're not quite there yet.
There's also "Ianto Evan's Polyculture" (pg. 144 of Gaia's Gardens)
which I'm planning to start ASAP in a keyhole bed. The idea is you
make a year round garden by starting in early spring. Get a bunch of
cabbage going indoors, and broadcast radish, dill, parsnip, calendula,
and variosu types of lettuce (Romaine, Loose Leaf, Butter, Iceberg, and
Heat Tolerant varieties). Please read the book for more details, I'm
skipping over much of the fine technique. Once the radishes are ready,
yank em and then plant the cabbages in their spots. One the lettuce
has been yanked and eaten, plant bush beans and buckwheat. During the
winter (warm winters), plant fava beans (nitrogen fixers) and garlic.
There is also Jajarkort's Polyculture which I won't go into right
now... it's a lovely asian (polynesian?) guild. Again, have a looksee
at Gaia's gardens.
I hope this is helpful to you folks, and perhaps you can help us all by
posting your favorite guilds.
Cheers and Love,