Reader Questions - Herb Spiral, Strawberries, Food Forest, Woodchucks

Reader Questions – Herb Spiral, Strawberries, Food Forest, Woodchucks

I receive a lot of questions on permaculture and other topics. I answer them here so everyone can benefit. After all, if you’re asking the question, there’s probably 10 more people who want the answer as well.

Today there are three questions. The first is on rats, the second on moving water, and lastly what to do in the Australian suburbs.

Join me today as I answer your (my readers) questions. If you want your question answered, please see the end of the article.

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Herb spiral…galaxy

Hi, I would like to build a herb spiral this spring but I am unsure of which herbs go where. Can you please tell me what herbs go where around the spiral?
Thanks
John

John,

To answer your question very shortly, like all things in permaculture, “it depends.”

Ah, the herb spiral.
In permaculture, much focus has been put on performing techniques rather than understanding principles.
Now the herb spiral is one such culprit (or maybe victim?) that has received (in my opinion) too much attention and forced implementation.
It does stack in 3-dimensional space, uses different moisture level for different plants, and creates microclimates.
So there’s nothing wrong with an herb spiral in itself. It was in the Designer’s Manual, after all.

But I’ve seen many poor examples of herb spirals.
Some were put in because people thought “that’s permaculture”, and some because they had to have one.Some are poorly placed for solar aspect or proximity and access.
Herb spirals are certainly not a requirement of any permaculture design. Just like the elements of chickens and swales are absolutely NOT required.

I’m sorry if this sounds a little negative, but I think it’s important to understand WHY you’re using certain elements or techniques.

Don’t just put them in because it’s “needed to be permaculture.”
It’s like the difference between a true mechanic and just a “parts changer.”

My suggestion would be to focus on understanding WHY you are putting in an herb spiral instead of which plants to put in it.
If you do, that’s great. Rock on and build the best herb spiral possible.
So make sure to think about how to irrigate it, and how the herbs will grow over time.
As far as plant selection goes, select the ones that do well in your climate and what you like to eat or use/look at.

Arrange them by water needs and sun/shade/temperature requirements.
Herbs that like it drier go closer to the top and more towards the sun.
Other than that, put them in where it’s aesthetically pleasing to look at.
It’s your spiral, so make it how you want it.

Strawberries, the best fruit

How deep of soil do strawberries need to produce well?

Hi,

Strawberries are shallow-rooted groundcover plants, with most roots under 12 inches.
So if you go 16 inches you will be safe.
They do best in slightly acidic soil, with lots of organic matter.

If you have alkaline or heavy clay soil you could use containers like half-barrels or my favorite – wicking beds.
When planting, make sure the crown is just at the soil surface.
Just Google this for a picture.
And of course, don’t forget the straw, or some type of top mulch.

Perennial food forest production

Hi! Thanks for getting this information out there for us laymen to try
and explore. I am interested in the food forest that grows year roundReader Questions - Herb Spiral, Strawberries, Food Forest, Woodchucks and germinates itself.

Tammy

Tammy,

Here’s some articles from the blog to get you started.
https://www.thepermaculture.life/17-nitrogen-fixers-for-your-permaculture-food-forest/
https://www.thepermaculture.life/how-to-pick-plants-for-your-food-forest/
https://www.thepermaculture.life/how-to-make-your-own-food-forest/
https://www.thepermaculture.life/how-to-plant-fruit-trees-in-the-desert-the-right-way/
https://www.thepermaculture.life/4-reasons-why-even-backyards-need-permaculture-designer/
https://www.thepermaculture.life/5-ways-to-get-free-fruit-nut-trees/

Now given your climate you should be able to grow a wide variety of plants and trees, and grow them quite well.
Fruit trees especially don’t like having wet roots all the time. And you may have problems with root rot due to the amount of rain you get.
So planting trees on raised mounds (swale mound or hugelkultur or just cover-cropped dirt) might be beneficial.
Ben Falk (http://www.wholesystemsdesign.com) in Vermont has lots of rainfall as well and has dealt with it this way.
And while you’re waiting for your food forest to grow, you can plant your annual veggies in the sunny spaces between the trees.

If you’re going to do a permaculture design for your property (which I highly recommend), you could either hire a designer, or (with some training) do it yourself.
Either way, I suggest taking a PDC. And you will understand more if you still want to hire the design out.
You really can do the design yourself. But having a PDC as the foundation of permaculture knowledge is critical (in my opinion, ‘course).
Yes, it’s not cheap, but if you pick a good school the education is quite valuable.
Further, it’s certainly more beneficial than a college course costing as much or more.

How to chuck a woodchuck chuck question

I have a community garden plot. It’s not a raised bed, just a 20’x6′
plot in the ground. I have a woodchuck problem. Just wanna gauge
other’s ideas about how they would erect a fence. I have a an idea but
maybe someone has already been successful w this issue.

Cheers,
Drew

Drew,

You may find a solution in these articles:

https://www.thepermaculture.life/reader-questions-2-rats-water-oz/
https://www.thepermaculture.life/dealing-with-wildlife-permaculture-way/
http://www.vegetablegardener.com/item/4683/protect-your-garden-from-woodchucks
https://www.thespruce.com/groundhog-damage-in-yard-2131141
http://wildlifeanimalcontrol.com/groundhogkeepaway.html

The little buggers are quite effective at destroying gardens. So I wish you good luck!

Summary

If you’d  like to get your question answered, just email me at info (at) thepermaculture (dot) life and ask away!

 

OK, that’s all folks! Do you have any questions or comments about sustainable homesteading, permaculture design or anything else? Ask your question down below and let’s talk! You can also use the contact form, or email me at info at thepermaculture dot life.

Thanks from TPL

 

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I receive a lot of questions, and I answer them here. Today there are four questions, on herb spiral, strawberries, food forest, and woodchucks/groundhogs. #thepclife #permaculture #homesteading #herbspiral #strawberries #foodforest #woodchuck #groundhog