Column 9 of the HomeGrown Series
The first thing my husband Tom did when we bought our farm was create the garden. We did some basic things to the house to make it habitable, but most of the energy went into the land. This has not changed. We have planted lots of trees, shrubs and plants and changed the landscape significantly. The best results we see are in areas that have great diversity of flora and fauna. We have also found that we are attracting many more species into our space now than we did when we first arrived here.
It has been said that the only truly sustainable system on our planet is a forest. It creates more energy than it consumes, and is therefore completely self sustaining. It has a combination of flora and fauna to support its system. All flora and fauna are part of the forest.
In order for us to become not just sustainable but also regenerative, we need to encourage diversity in flora and fauna. This diversity supports each other. Animals fertilise the soil by defecating and dying, plants fertilise the soil by growing both into the air and under the ground and releasing hormones when they die. Nature is a tapestry of life and death which ultimately results in a balanced and sustainable natural environment.
Humans have tried to harness nature, have changed the natural environment to suit their needs without thinking about the environment itself. And since the industrial revolution began, we have exploited the natural environment in more invasive ways than ever before.
Due to monoculture agriculture, both plant and animal, we have eroded and depleted landscapes to such an extent that a collapse is imminent and soil loss is at record highs. The only way we can resolve these issues is by creating a more diverse landscape, with flora and fauna diversity.
Whether you have a small courtyard, a balcony or a larger area to play with, you must ensure you grow a diversity of plants and animals. Every species attracts a number of other species into that area. So for every species you introduce you will create diversity 7 – 10 fold. Do not be afraid to plant a lot of different species close and densely together. If planting vegetables for example, plant the species that takes longest to mature in the middle, supported by species that can be harvested earlier from the inside out in a garden bed or container. Use manures from different animal species that you can have in your area (even composted dog manure), or visit local farmers for a variety of manures. If you have high or low extreme temperatures during some times of the year, plant green manure crops if you can. Ensure your green manure has at least 8 different species in it as it has been found to be a magic number for positive co-operation of plant species and optimal soil regeneration. Our green manure mix has more species than that. We also ensure to plant 8 or more species in a garden bed to encourage that positive plant feedback.
Diversity is absolute key! The more diverse you can make your environment, the better it is for nature, and the more pleasant it is for you to be part of.