WILD CHILD VERTICAL GARDEN PROJECT: PART III
POLLINATORS DOCUMENTED ON EXISTING NATURAL/WILD AREAS:
Pollinators are a diverse group of species which includes bats, birds, bees, butterflies, moths, bats, beetles, wasps, flies, and other insects. Pollinators are critically important to life, and their numbers are in steady decline as a result of loss of habitat, pests, pathogens, exposure to pesticides, and other stressors.
• Brown Bat
• Bumble Bee
• Carpenter Bee
• Honey Bee
• Mud Dauber
• Paper Wasp
• Banded Hairstreak Butterfly
• Monarch Butterfly
• Queen Butterfly
• Clouded Sulphur Butterfly
• Anise Swallowtail
• Brown Panopoda Moth
• Checkered White Moth
• Black Caterpillar Hunter Beetle
• Green June Beetle
WILDLIFE DOCUMENTED ON EXISTING NATURAL/WILD AREAS:
• Nine-Banded Armadillo
• Eastern Chipmunk
• White-Tailed Deer
• Striped Bass
• Red Fox
• Southern Leopard Frog
• Green Tree Frog
• Six-Lined Race Runner Lizard
• Eastern Mole
• House Mouse
• Eastern Cottontail Rabbit
• Common Mud Puppy Salamander
• Striped Skunk
• Copperhead Snake
• Cottonmouth Snake
• Common King Snake
• Plain-Bellied Water Snake
• Virginia Opossum
• Eastern Gray Squirrel
• Eastern Fox Squirrel
• American Toad
• Eastern Box Turtle
• Snapping Turtle
PERMACULTURE PRINCIPLES: According to Bill Mollison, cofounder and father of the movement, “Permaculture is the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. Permaculture gardens leverage natural processes to regenerate the ecology of a site. They do this while also yielding useful things such as food, fiber, fuel, fodder, fertilizer, or “farmaceuticals”.
Permaculture allows us to be a part of the cycle of nature, working with, rather than against nature by learning, observing, and implementing twelve principles.
The Wild Child Herb Shop property has implemented permaculture principles in the following ways:
Observe and interact: We use the sustainable actions of others to inspire us, and have adopted sustainable practices at home and in the garden. We have “rewilded” ourselves by spending more time in nature, and sitting, observing, and reflecting on how nature works.
Catch and store energy: Solar, wind, or geothermal energy are all good choices to accomplish this goal. We plan to add a greenhouse to our landscape, solar panels to the main house, and a rainwater collection system for irrigating the garden. One of the easiest ways to capture and store energy, which we have already implemented, is growing and preserving food by dehydrating or canning the surplus.
Obtain a yield: Yields are not just about how many crops are grown, it is also about other important aspects of sustainable living, including good health, happiness, well-being, and the wholesomeness of the environment.
Apply self-regulation and feedback: sustainable changes we make can slow down climate change. These changes include reducing energy consumption, reducing the use of plastics, recycling, reducing the amount of waste generated in the home, and decluttering.
Ways to reduce plastic use include:
• Drinking from glass.
• Stop buying bottled water, and use a stainless-steel water bottle.
• Keep real utensils in the car and at the workplace.
• Purchase wooden toys.
• Use only real or bio-degradable plates, cups, and utensils.
• Save glass jars and use them instead of plastic storage containers.
• Use cloth grocery bags.
• Compost to reduce the use of plastic garbage bags.
• Buy grocery items in glass containers when possible.
Use and value renewable resources: Using Water Wisely: An important aspect of a permaculture-designed property is efficient management of water usage. A host of water management tools in the permaculture toolbox can divert, slow, or catch water, reduce watering time and usage, and establish the right amount of moisture for healthy soil and crops. Water is always the number one priority for any permaculture system.
Wild Child Herb Shop uses water wisely by slowing, spreading, and sinking water as it falls from the sky into the soil. This was accomplished by shaping the property so that the water gets into the soil and is stored there. This builds the soil’s organic matter which acts like a sponge and absorbs the water that slowly moves across the landscape. We use mulch to keep the soil temperature cool, and hold moisture in. We plant native species that require less water than more delicate varieties. We plant in dense clusters which serve as a living mulch and keep the garden cooler. Green areas are allowed to go dormant naturally, and the garden areas only get additional water when needed. When we water the garden, we water deeply to encourage plant root growth, and reduce evaporation by banking water deep in the soil.
Produce no waste: There will always be something to recycle or reuse, and reducing plastic usage is a great start to a zero-waste lifestyle. To decide whether a product is worth purchasing, look at the quality of the product, lack of packaging, and whether the product can be reused, recycled, or composted.
Design from patterns to details: Developing Healthy Soil: Soil is a gardener’s most valuable asset. Healthy soil contains organic matter and beneficial organisms, manages nutrients and water efficiently, resists erosion, pests, and disease, and provides a happy home for herbs, plants, vegetables, and fruits. Healthy soil produces more nutrient-dense food, decreases excess carbon underground to reverse climate change, and brings insect biodiversity to help manage pest pressure for organic crops.
Wild Child Herb Shop developed healthy soil by adding high quality compost, leaving the subsoil intact, maintaining the organic matter with mulch, keeping fallen leaves as an extra layer of protection, and using crop rotation and perennial cover crops. The soil was also improved by allowing disturbances in the form of wildlife impact. This includes foraging and recycling the biomass by trampling the left-over fodder into the soil to feed earthworms and microbes. We created self-sustaining fertility with nitrogen-fixing trees already present on the property, and planting accumulators that raise nutrients from the sub soil.
Integrate, Don’t Segregate: Layering Multifunctional Plants: When adopting permaculture principles, the elements of the landscape design should serve a minimum of three functions. For example, the Red Oak on our property functions as a wind break, leaf mulch, and wildlife benefit. The Sugar Maple functions as an insect habitat, leaf mulch, and wildlife benefit. The clover is a nitrogen fixer, insect habitat, and pollinator attractor. The dandelions are nutrient accumulators and provides early spring food for bees.
Wild Child Herb Shop uses garden plants that have a symbiotic relationship. We use perennials that provide multiple functions, including medicine, food, fodder, shade, mulch, windbreaks, and ground cover.
Use small and slow solutions: It takes several years and intentional steps to achieve an eco-friendly and sustainable homestead. Small and guided steps are the best way to achieve this goal. Raising goats, chickens, guinea, or ducks is a good way to provide food, milk, and eggs.
Use and value diversity: Designing Plant Guilds: A permaculture guild is a grouping of plants that supports a central element such as a fruit or nut tree. Guilds are a step beyond well-established companion planting arrangements, moving from useful pairings into functionally and self-sustaining polyculture systems. In guilds, many plants are serving one another to achieve a stable co-existence in which the garden is mulched, the soil fertilized, the pests controlled, the pollinators attracted, the nutrients accumulated, and the cultivators feed. A guild integrates plants together to maximize the harvest while reducing cost, labor, and the need to import materials.
Wild Child Herb Shop uses the following criteria when deciding what to plant in the guilds on the property:
• Compatible water needs.
• Different root systems: We vary root systems so that plants aren’t competing, and try to include a root crop in the mix.
• Plant arrangement: We use plants of different sizes and shapes.
• Insects, good and bad: We use plants for attracting beneficial insects and deterring pests.
• The soil: We always have something covering it and feeding it new nutrients. We use ground cover, and include nitrogen-fixers.
• Use the rule of three: We have at least three reasons for including a plant in the garden. We include plants that attract bees and other pollinators, provide food, accumulate trace minerals in the soil, and add another color to the garden.