Author Topic: Permaculture Basics - Part One - Layers  (Read 5106 times)

Offline ModernSurvival

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Permaculture Basics - Part One - Layers
« on: May 07, 2009, 11:55:31 AM »
I want to spur interest and get a bit more activity going in the Permaculture board so I decided to do a series of basic introductions to the concept.  Permaculture is often either just seen as planting trees or the other extreme is seeing it is too complex for a novice to understand.  It is neither.  So lets start out with the basics of "Perma Culture Layers"

In permaculture and forest gardening, seven layers are identified:

Layer 1 - The Canopy - These are your largest trees in the system which include both fruit/nut trees and often some non food trees as well such as certain varieties that may help to fix nitrogen or provide an abundance of organic matter. 

Layer 2 - Low tree layer (dwarf fruit/nut trees) - These are planted often between the intervals between the larger trees and slightly to the font of them as well to enable better solar exposure.  This tree layer also increases total yield over what could be produced with all large trees.

Layer 3 - Shrubs - The shrub layer then offers massive diversity for the permaculture system in many types of berries, nuts, fruits and even just organic matter production.  The shrub layer is one of the most productive in the system because it can come up to productive levels in a short time and generally is quite apt to spread almost on its own.

Layer 4 - Herbaceous - This layer includes just about all annual plants (other then rhizomes and cover crops) along with many perennial plants.  The herbaceous zone includes actual herbs like the common parsley, oregano and basil as well as typical vegetable crops and any plants that don't really fit one of the other 7 layers.

Layer 5 - Rhizosphere (root crops) -  Anything that produces editable tubers (for man or wildlife) would be included in this layer.  Plants such as potatoes, duck potatoes, jerusalem  artichokes are just a few of rhizome plants. 

Layer 6 - Soil Surface (cover crops) - Any and all low growing plants that spread out and act as ground cover are included in this layer.  Some may be editable and others may serve a role of simply acting as mulch and providing organic matter.  Others may serve to attract beneficial insects or to act as feed for wildlife. 

Layer 7 - Vertical Layer (climbers, vines) - Just as it sounds this would be any plants (perennial or annual) plants that climb and grow vertically.  This can be climbing flowers such a nasturtiums or climbing legumes such as runner beans used for both food and fixing nitrogen.  Basically if it climbs it is part of this layer.

The goal of this seven layer system is to replicate a basic forest system including the edges and meadows and clearings.  Unlike nature man plays a role by providing irrigation, pruning to control growth and chooses varieties and species that are good for food or help to naturally support other plants.  In the end you get man and nature working together rather than in opposition.  In future posts I will expand on the layer concept by going into the Five Zones and how zones differ from layers.  Hope this is a good opener.

Offline Jimbo

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Re: Permaculture Basics - Part One - Layers
« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2009, 09:23:39 PM »
 Have 10 years before retirement. My intent is to get a permaculture established before my time is up on the job, thanks for the info!