Permaculture I

Course CodeVSS104
Fee CodeS1
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment
Develop a foundation for understanding permaculture
Gardens that follow permacultural guidelines may look chaotic, although there is usually precise planning in the design. The aim is to develop a synergy between all the plants and the animals that occupy the space. Once established, permaculture gardens should rarely need maintenance, except for the harvesting of fruit, vegetables and flowers. Some very efficient and attractive permaculture gardens have been established in the past. Planning is the priority for such a garden though; and this course helps you to develop an understanding of the critical factors which need to be met in planning a permaculture system..

Course Content
There are five lessons in this course as follows:
1. Concepts: Permaculture philosophy, natural systems and key practices (eg. no dig gardening, biological control, plant naming, seed (sources, hybridisation, storage, etc).
2. The Environment: Ecology, ecosystems and permaculture design concepts.
3. Soils: structure, nutrition, erosion, natural fertilizers, soil plant relationships.
4. Climate & Water: Climatic factors, estimating plant water requirements, water quality, improving drainage, site planning.
5. Forest Systems: Plant associations, mycorrhiza, tree interactions (with wind, light, rain, etc), forest types in permaculture, creating a rainforest.

What Does a Permaculture Garden Look Like?
Every garden is different. Some are bigger and others smaller. Some are tidier, and others seemingfly more chaotic. The important thing however is not what it looks like; but that is is sustainable and productive.
Here are some characteristics you might commonly find.
  • Lots of useful plants, growing wild.
  • Free range poultry foraging throughout the garden. They control some types of pests, 
    they eat many weed seeds, and they produce manure which helps to keep the garden 
    fertilised. They also produce eggs and meat which is free of chemicals that are often 
    used in commercial poultry production. 
  • Established fruit and nut trees which produce food for the household and shade in the 
  • A large variety of herbs, often grown as companion plants to other plants in the garden.
  • Hedges or trellised fences (covered with climbing plants) that provide fruit and nuts, as 
    well as some wind protection and shade.
  • Fish in a large pond or two. The fish will help control some insects, and can be culled 
    every now and then for food.
  • A range of hardy vegetables grown throughout the garden, in particular climbing and 
    trailing ones, grown on trellis to keep them out of reach of poultry.
What are Keyhole Beds?
These are semi-circular shaped growing areas within a larger garden area, which can be reached from a single access point.
The placement and width of a keyhole bed is dependent upon how far you can reach comfortably to access the bed.
Ideal plants for keyhole beds are vegetables and herbs which are pilled or cut such as edible leaf crops, radishes, turnips, asparagus or onion type plants (e.g. garlic, shallots etc).

What are Herb Spirals?

This technique of herb gardening involves the construction of a raised garden in the shape of a spiral. Usually made of rocks, the first layer is laid down in a large circle which is filled in by soil. The spiral arrangement refers to the concentric spiral layering of the rocks with soil providing support and fill. The concept allows for planting herbs in locations better suited to the plant. For example, herbs that require well drained soil are placed at the top, and herbs that like moist soil are placed at the base. Due to gravity, water travels downward, so that the base will always be more moist than the top layer of soil and rocks.
Additionally, sun exposure is also considered for plant placement. For example, herbs that like sun and moisture would be placed on the north side but low down on the spiral; plants that like shade and medium moisture would be placed on the southern side but midway down the spiral; plants that like full sun and perfect drainage are best placed on the top of the spiral and to the north if possible.
The area for the spiral is usually up to the garden owner, however if it is too large, it becomes awkward to harvest and care of the hers. If too small, the drainage patterns will not be established. It needs to be large enough to support the types and number of herbs to be grown.


Is this the Course for You?
If you are just starting out with permaculture; there are two choices with our school; either this course, or Permaculture Systems.
This course is easier to tackle, but  it does not take you as far in terms of scope, as what you might do with Permaculture Systems. Permaculture Systems covers everything that is covered in a standard Permaculture Design Certificate. This only covers parts of that PDC, but what it covers, it does in a little more depth and intensity.
It is ideal for someone who wants to develop their understanding of permaculture more slowly and thoroughly. If you want a faster, more intensive but possibly not quites as comprehensive education: choose Permaculture Systems instead. )
If you have the time and money to take your learning about permaculture more slowly, you can spread it over 400 hours by doing Permaculture I, II, III and IV. 

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