Eric Brocken from the EarthCare Centre spoke to our club in September about Permaculture. He admitted that permaculture is a very broad term that can mean many different things. For this talk he focussed on sustainability and building resilience into a garden – specifically maintaining healthy soil by encouraging microbes.
The bottom line is that it’s the bacteria in the soil that make the whole system tick. Each different species of bacteria (there can be 10 billion species of bacteria in 1 teaspoon of soil) has its own role to play in making the soil something that sustains the plants and provides the nutrients that eventually make it into our diet. The best way to help nurture this bacteria is to: a) compost, b) use (or encourage) worms, c) avoid commercial fertilisers. Compost and worms provide a good environment for bacteria to grow whereas fertilisers can kill or stunt bacteria (besides, most of the chemicals poured onto a garden end up being washed away and entering our waterways as pollutants). It can be a fine balance, but the aim should be to have deep, fertile soil where bacteria and plants can thrive with as few outside additives as possible.
Eric shared a plethora of interesting information in his short talk and left us all wanting more. At the end he suggested “Teaming with Nutrients”, a book by Jeff Lowenfells which explains how plants get nutrition from the soil and tells gardeners how they can boost plant nutrition using organic practices.
Our next meeting will be held on 6 October: Bring One – Take One. Every club member should bring along a plant or garden item to give away and they’ll take something different home.