The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Hooker's videos on design, patterns, and gardens

Sector analysisDespite getting carried away and finishing up Mollison's book before moving on with Will Hooker's video course, I didn't completely give up on the latter.  Over the last few weeks, I've worked my way through lectures 6, 7, and 8, along with the corresponding reading material about permaculture as a design process, about patterns, and about starting a vegetable garden.

All three lectures were pretty basic, and lecture 7, especially didn't contain much of value.  (I felt Will Hooker got a bit caught up in what I consider New Age math.)  On the other hand, gems jumped out at me from the other two videos.

In addition to the sun angle information that I'm going to devote a later post to, my favorite part of lecture 6 was the notion of beginning the design process with a sector analysis.  The image at the top of this post charts where forces of nature (and other elements beyond our control) enter the farm.  Although we already know our farm well enough that we didn't receive any new information from the sector analysis, those of you new an area might use the information in a sector analysis to conclude you shouldn't plant your fruit trees where they'll block the winter sun, that you should plant a dense barrier where the wind comes gusting in off the prairie, and that you might consider either making an edible garden where the neighbor's children encroach, or keeping them out with thorny bushes (depending on how you feel about the kids in question).

Herb spiralShifting gears, Lecture 8 contained a good introduction to permaculture gardening techniques --- I recommend that video for beginners.  I enjoyed Hooker's reiteration of the admonition to start gardening wherever you are, even if you're renting; your first garden will be far from perfect, so you might as well begin the trial and error process now rather than putting it off until you have the perfect plot.  He also scavenges biomass just like I do, and has an excellent piece of advice there --- steer clear of bags of clippings and leaves from beautiful lawns, since those are more likely to be dosed in herbicides.

"Every landscape design has two 'clients' with their own needs: the people who live there and the land itself."
--- Toby Hemenway in Gaia's Garden

As usual, I had mixed feelings about the reading in Gaia's Garden.  Even though I tried out keyhole beds when I was new to permaculture, I believe both keyhole beds and herb spirals are trendy techniques that create much more work than old-school straight lines and rectangles.  On the other hand, I do like the concept of designing from patterns to details, looking at the flows and patterns already present in your landscape, and optimizing them.  For example, Hemenway explains that a tree's branch design is a useful pattern to mimic in drip irrigation systems, and that people tend to flow like water.

I've got a bit more to say about this trio of lectures in later posts, but for now, here's the reading material for the next set of lectures:

If you've been watching along with me, I'd be curious to hear if different parts of these lectures caught your interest than caught mine.

Trailersteading is my best-selling ebook about dumpster-diving your housing.

Anna Hess's books
Want more in-depth information? Browse through our books.

Or explore more posts by date or by subject.

About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

Want to be notified when new comments are posted on this page? Click on the RSS button after you add a comment to subscribe to the comment feed, or simply check the box beside "email replies to me" while writing your comment.

THANK YOU! I was starting to think I was the only permacultrist in the world who thought herb spirals are overbuilt hokum.
Comment by Emily Mon Jul 22 16:25:27 2013

profile counter myspace

Powered by Branchable Wiki Hosting.

Required disclosures:

As an Amazon Associate, I earn a few pennies every time you buy something using one of my affiliate links. Don't worry, though --- I only recommend products I thoroughly stand behind!

Also, this site has Google ads on it. Third party vendors, including Google, use cookies to serve ads based on a user's prior visits to a website. Google's use of advertising cookies enables it and its partners to serve ads to users based on their visit to various sites. You can opt out of personalized advertising by visiting this site.