So permaculture doesn’t work in a dry environment eh? Then try Xericulture!

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It seems every book on permaculture and every expert that uses the principals of permaculture, center around there being a heap of water available and the site has a slope to utilise. So what if you don’t have these two aspects, does permaculture work? Evidently not as well as it should and in some circles who think not at all.

So we are coining a new phrase and concept taking the best permaculture has to offer and fitting it into a dryland environment, calling it Xericulture. Xeros from the Greek meaning dry and the Latin cultura which is growing or cultivation. The concept of xeriscaping was developed years ago by Denver water in the USA and has seven basic tenets which we incorporate into the twelve tenets of permaculture as follows.

Permaculture tenets.
1. Observe and interact.
2. Catch and store.
3. Obtain a yield.
4. Apply self regulation, accept feedback.
5. Use/value renewable resources/services.
6. Produce no waste.
7. Design from patterns to detail.
8. Integrate not segregate.
9. Use small slow solutions.
10. Use/value diversity.
11. Use edges/value the marginal.
12. Creatively use and respond to change.

Xeriscaping tenets.
1. Analyse the site.
2. Classify the zones.
3. Select the appropriate plants.
4. Fill large areas with lawn.
5. Group water needy plants near structures.
6. Soften boundaries.
7. Mulch.

As you read the two, similarities standout but by and large the Xeriscaping side are biased to dry environments as you would expect. The only points that can meld are observe and interact with analyse the site, use edges value the marginal and soften boundaries. Scrap the lawn idea entirely. The others are added to each other to make a total of 17 tenets. No need to reinvent the wheel here but just accept that living in a dry environment poses more challenges and more attention to detail is needed.

Having said that I’m sure that over time some others will be redefined and incorporated as this concept is still new and under development. I applied these principals to my new spud bed this week…

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Here we have an example of spuds on dead dry soil, barely got the fork in a half a tine deep! This particular spot has not been cultivated for over 50 years and was part of a dirt track. The idea is to throw the seed spuds on top and cover with mulch.










Keep the water up and chooks out (bailing twine wrapped around the frame). As the spuds emerge thru the mulch cover to the top leaving a tip showing. If the box gets filled I can add more boards to increase the mulch height.

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I experimented with 6 seed spuds last year with very good results, as you can see…

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The bed was surrounded by tree guards to keep the mulch in the bed so chooks couldn’t scratch it out. Middle pic shows the mulch being lifted and bagged with new spuds being removed as we go. They fell out of the mulch onto the raised bed and collected. The last pic shows the result. From 6 seed spuds weighing around 250 grams to a basket and pail weighing in total 9 kg! Granted there were some very small ones left in the bed as I didn’t want to disturb the rhubarb too much, Ah well, spuds as weeds is a good thing…



More later …