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Small Permaculture Gardens - Short Course

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Learn Permaculture

  • Start small and grow
  • Create productive, intense small gardens
  • On a terrace, veranda, courtyard or corner of a larger garden

This is an achievable first step to understand and try out the concepts that underpin permaculture.

Learn a little, try on a small scale, and lay a foundation to take it further if your passion builds and opportunities grow.

This course will help you:
  • Grow your own fresh food
  • Reduce your shopping bill
  • Grow food sustainably
  • Practice self-reliance
  • Make use of any small space

Permaculture in Small Spaces has something for everyone - from balcony deck to suburban backyard to the empty city block down the road! Learn how to grow your own food in a healthy and sustainable way, anywhere, today!



Ethical underpinning 
Permaculture principles 
Zones and sectors 
Central Place Theory 
Multi owner developments and urban permaculture 
Maximising edges
Natural succession
Review what you have been learning

Ecology in the garden 
Designing with systems 
Start with the soil microbiome 
Microclimates & Ecosystems 
Creating microclimates 
Creating Outdoor Rooms
Supporting Animal Biodiversity
Planting Vegetables
Review what you have been learning

Design considerations 
Topography, structures, sun and wind 
Formulating ideas 
Circular Designs 
Use of Scale 
Garden beds
Plant genome development
Vertical gardens
Advantages and disadvantages of vertical gardening
Review what you have been learning

Deciding what to grow 
Prioritise your criteria 
Companion Planting 
Spinach and chard
Growing grapes
Berry fruit
Review what you have been learning

What is meant by sustainability? 
Minimising or eliminating inputs 
Worm Farming 
Sheet mulching 
Water recycling 
United Nations Food Sustainability
Food Security
Creative recycling 
Review what you have been learning 

Protective structures 
Container Growing 
Stacking or Layering 
Raised Beds 
Mushroom Cultivation 
Domesticated Animals
Snail Farming
Managing your needs
Herbs in Containers
Bee keeping
Chickens in small spaces
Review what you have been learning

Strategies to Reduce Pest and Disease Problems 
Using Plants 
Protecting Plants 
Natural Weed Control 
Non Chemical Pest Control
Companion planting 
Review what you have been learning 

Connecting with others
Trading with neighbours
Community gardens
Building communities
What can go wrong
What can go right
Reducing waste
Landfill, environmental pollution, wastelands
Review what you have been learning 
Final Assessment 

Learn to Create Microsystems within a Small Garden

A permaculture landscape isn't determined by size. It is determined by the way it is developed to be ecologically divers, balanced and sustainable. To do this is more than just selecting a number of components and dropping them into the landscape. You need to approach your selection and arrangement intelligently and holistically.

A holistic and harmonious system optimises yields, reduces the need for external inputs, is less damaging to the environment, and requires less maintenance. A mature ecological garden is resilient. If one plant or animal dies off, the rest of the system can withstand the loss. Furthermore, the plants in an ecological garden are selected because they have many uses. Just like in natural ecosystems, each member of an ecological garden has many uses. In many other types of gardens, a plant is used for a single purpose, so its multiple benefits are not exploited. 

Understanding natural systems helps to design spaces to make them more productive and minimise the labour involved in using them. Working with permaculture principles also enables designers to create sustainable garden spaces. These sustainable spaces are long-lasting, and will repay the energy that went into producing them over time. 

Permaculture gardeners do not advocate returning gardens to how the land might have been before it was developed- as native plant sites. Instead, they advocate creating gardens based on natural systems that incorporate food plants, native plants, and exotic plants. The idea is that if people in cities produce more of their own food and create multifunctional sites where plants and animals interact symbiotically, there will be less need for farmers to continue to degrade land to provide food and other resources to the cities – which is where most farm products are consumed.    

Start with the soil microbiome 

The stability of all living things in any ecosystem, large or small, depends upon a stable microbiome. When you begin to develop any new permaculture system, the soil, plants, and animals on the site will be faced with change. In attempting to develop a new and improved ecosystem, you will be changing the old system, and every change has repercussions. 

Create microclimates

You can identify your own microclimates by noting which outdoor areas are the warmest, coolest, driest, wettest, and so on. You can also adjust microclimates e.g., painting a wall white to reflect heat onto an area or installing a pond to provide humidity and cool air. Small gardens are obviously more restricted in the number of microclimates that can be created. You need to think carefully about what you plan to do both with hard landscaping and soft landscaping.  Here are some things you may consider for small space permaculture:

Trees – if space is limited, and you are aiming for diversity, limit how you use trees. Small trees or trees that are kept in containers may provide shade to parts of the site without shading all the ground all the time. If you can retain direct sunlight to some of the ground’s surface, and provide filtered light or shade to ground, you will retain some variation in microclimates which will support diversity in the site. If those trees are deciduous, they can open the area to sunlight in winter when it is in shorter supply and provide cool shade in summer when light is more intense.

Other shading techniques – you can also control sun and shade by using a pergola or trellis to support climbers that cast a shadow. For example, you could secure wires, netting, or shade cloth to wooden posts and grow climbers up the posts and onto the covering to provide shade beneath. 

On a balcony or veranda, a sun blind can provide respite from intense sunlight that allows plants to grow. Shade cloth permits filtered light. Lower density shade cloth is ideal for heat-tolerant plants like chillies, capsicums, and tomatoes. Medium density would suit heat-sensitive crops like spinach and lettuce, or crops that may produce smaller or poorer quality yields like carrots and brassicas. The colour is also important. White shade cloth provides better ventilation because it reflects more heat for sunlight. Also, white cloth does not affect light quality, so it encourages plants to grow quickly. Darker colours are better at absorbing heat from sunlight so provide greater protection in hotter climates.         

Another method is to use tall plants such as bamboo to create shade. Bamboo can then be thinned out to manage the degree of shading, and the harvested shoots can be used for crafts, building, or even garden stakes. If you use bamboo, use clumping rather than spreading varieties, and choose the variety carefully to achieve the height you want. Some bamboo species are too tall for small gardens. Harvested bamboo shoots need to be properly treated to prevent deterioration after harvest. 

Providing warmth – harnessing sunlight is another obvious way to create favourable microclimates or alter existing ones. This can be done using reflective surfaces like glass, white paint, or the surface of water.
In a courtyard garden, a small greenhouse or igloo - correctly positioned - could block wind and provide a warm spot for plants that thrive in warmer conditions. If you know which side of a garden shed receives the most sunlight (e.g., the north-facing side in the southern hemisphere), it can be painted white to reflect heat. Painting the shed might enable crops or a grapevine to be grown that may otherwise not thrive. 

A balcony that receives minimal sunlight might benefit from an outdoor wall mirror to reflect the sunlight onto plants on the balcony during the brief time it is available. You could also remove obstacles that are creating shade or blocking out sunlight. For example, by pruning overhanging branches, rearranging potted plants, or replacing a solid fence with trellis.     

Managing soil –creating differences in soil will create different microclimates. You might cover some with a rich organic mulch, use raised beds or mounds, and cover another area with large pebbles. Even a 6 square metre garden area with three different soil treatments like this can produce three different soil microclimates. Each of these different microclimates can then become more suited to growing different useful plants e.g., different herbs, vegetables, or small fruits.

Supporting animal diversity – microclimates also influence animal life. Animals are extremely important for plants. For instance, insects are crucial for decomposing dead plant material, and for pollinating flowers to produce vegetables and fruits. Insect hotels can enhance native bee and wasp populations. 

Beehives on apartment balconies or rooftops will bring in honeybees. Nesting boxes can be affixed to trees or the facades of buildings to attract small birds that consume problem insects or pollinate flowers. Birdbaths or small ponds give birds places to clean and preen. You can also create habitats for lizards and small animals by providing hollow logs, rocks, and leaving leaf litter around. Eco heaps made by stacking logs, rocks or piles of clippings will also provide habitat for reptiles and small animals.

Supporting plant diversity – choose a range of plants to enhance diversity and influence microclimates. Consider including some native varieties that contribute to sustainability of the ecology – animals, plants, microbiology, soil/air/water health – and which are more resistant to microclimate change.

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Small Permaculture Gardens - Short Course Small Permaculture Gardens - Short Course
$220.00 In stock