This small farm exemplifies the model of permaculture for cannabis. Borders of oregano and ground thyme provide natural pest repellents and intercropped flowering companion plants provide habitat for beneficials.

This small farm exemplifies the model of permaculture for cannabis. Borders of oregano and ground thyme provide natural pest repellents and intercropped flowering companion plants provide habitat for beneficials.

PERMACULTURE

Background

TThe term permaculture was developed and coined by David Holmgren, then a graduate student at the Tasmanian College of Advanced Education's Department of Environmental Design, and Bill Mollison, senior lecturer in Environmental Psychology at University of Tasmania, in 1978. The word permaculture originally referred to "permanent agriculture", but was expanded to stand also for "permanent culture", as it was understood that social aspects were integral to a truly sustainable system as inspired by Masanobu Fukuoka’s natural farming philosophy.

Permaculture is an integrated design process where structures, plants and animals are placed in specific areas. It can be applied to both urban and rural properties, from inner city flats to broad acres. Most urban backyards are small and the main activity would be to grow a range of quality food and medcine.

Designs for rural properties are different. Larger-scale permaculture development would include the use of mulching green waste, water harvesting methods, shelter areas for animals, agroforestry, land care planting, commercial food production and heavy equipment for processing all this.

12 design principles

Permaculture principles are

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  1. Observe and Interact

    Design should consider different seasons, times of day, and cultures. Ways to work and design with existing patterns in nature should be considered.  
  2. Catch and Store Energy

    Renewable ways of capturing and utilizing energy should be a priority. Energy, which gives us the ability to work, should never be wasted. True costs (i.e. negative externalities, human welfare, habitat protection, etc.) should be a central part of energy  dialogue. Infrastructure improvements, retrofitting, passive design, and alternative storage techniques should be prioritized.
  3. Obtain a Yield

    Design should focus on principles of  self-reliance. Producing an agricultural yield is necessary for independence and continuity. Yields are encouraging, and they create ‘positive feedback loops’ (Holmgren, 2007).
  4. Apply Self Regulation and Accept Feedback

    With better understanding of how positive and negative feedbacks work in nature, systems can be designed that are more self-regulating, thus reducing the work involved in repeated and harsh corrective management (Holmgren, 2007).  
  5. Use and Value Renewable Resources and Services

    We live as a result of the ability of the living world to regenerate (Glanzberg, 2013). A diversified use of renewable resources, at an appropriate level of use, can help us limit our consumption. 
  6. Produce No Waste

    Look for ways to make waste a useful input in our system, rather than just an output. Recycling, composting, and reducing waste are increasingly important as population increases.
  7. Design From Patterns to Details

    By stepping  back, we can observe patterns in nature and society. These can form the backbone of  our designs, with the details filled in as we go (McManus, 2010). Thoughtful design is a way of addressing and solving many of our problems at the source.
  8. Integrate Rather Than Segregate

    This requires the recognition of complex connections in nature, and making beneficial use of those interactions. We must brainstorm the many functions that each element can perform.
  9. Use Small and Slow Solutions

    Smaller systems are easier to maintain than big ones, making better use of  local resources and producing more sustainable outcomes (McManus, 2010). Also, be sure to take adequate time through observation and seeking local knowledge in finding solutions. 
  10. Use and Value Diversity

    Diversity fosters resilience. A society rooted in monoculture is vulnerable to unexpected change. Permaculture seeks to understand past, present, and potential biological and cultural diversity.
  11. Use Edges and Value the Marginal

    A point where two systems meet is often a place where productivity and stability can be found. Rather than disregarding the marginal, we should look for ways to make use of its diversity and productivity.
  12. Creatively Use and Respond to Change

    We can have a positive impact on inevitable change by carefully observing, and then intervening at the right time (McManus, 2010). We must not seek to take away the self-determination of land in the process. 

    UTAH STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION


Organic Pest Control

Permaculture principles tend to rely heavily on biodiversity of flowering plants to attract beneficial insects. Various types of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) can provide alternative solutions to traditional pesticide applicaitons. IPM is a method of pest control where many strategies are used. For example, you could:

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  • Build a pond to attract frogs and raise ducks. This will help control caterpillar, slug and snail populations.

  • Utilize companion planting to attract beneficial insects. Mixed planting with continual blooming successions in gardens and orchards will will constantly be attracting beneficial insects.

  • Provide sound management and husbandry to discourage soil and leaf pests.

  • Utilize cover crop rotations to control weeds.

  • Use insect traps and behavioral chemicals.

  • Mechanical management and barriers, such as the handpicking of insects and snails and other methods to discourage and prevent the pests from entering the space in the first place.

  • Use specific biological pest controls, such as specific fungus or bacteria to kill pests.

  • Use of trap crops to lure pests away from your cannabis.

  • Practice crop rotation. By rotating the areas of where you grow tomatoes, cannabis and other vegetables, you can break the cycle of pest and disease. Crop rotation is usually most applicable if you are currently experiencing high levels of pest or disease pressure.

  • Care for your soil! By creating an enviroment for healthy, living soil, you provide your plants the ability to operate their immune systems at 100%. We all know that sick plants attract pests and disease, so by learning about cultivating living soils, you take the necessary steps towards optimizing plant health.

Should you have to use sprays to control pests or outbreaks of disease, here are some useful ones to make:

self insect spray

Use a teaspoonful of the insect pest and mash it up in a cup of water. Stand this in the sun for a day, filter through an old stocking and mix with 4L of water. It is said to be pathogenically potent for the insect pest. *This has not been tested for efficacy by CHA

garlic spray

Finely chop up 16 garlic cloves. Add this to one gallon of water and let stand overnight. Add in 1oz of Dr. Bronner Soap into mixture before spraying. Test for phytotoxicity on small area before using over large areas. Garlic is good for fungicides and a pest deterrent.

wormwood spray

Add 15g of dried leaves to 1L of water. Simmer for 30 minutes and allow to cool slowly. Use only on mature plants for larger pests such as caterpillars, moths and aphids.

pyrethrum

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This is a natural insecticide which paralyzes insects. It can be used in dry powder form or a spray made by mixing 30g of dry flower heads (Pyrethrum daisy) and 50ml of methylated spirits. Grind the young flower heads to make a fine powder. You can either use this powder directly on your vegetative plants or make a stock solution by adding methylated spirits. Keep this stock solution in a dark colored bottle or jar which has an airtight lid and in a dark area as the sunlight will initiate the breakdown of pyrethrum. Pyrethrum is toxic but it is photosensitive and rapidly degrades in sunlight. Dilute this stock 20:1 with water when you want to use it. You should apply the powder or solution at night as it can kill beneficial insects such as bees.

Chamomile Tea

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This is effective against damping-off in cold, damp places, and mildew on plants. Use a handful of fresh flowers of 30ml of dried flowers in 1L of boiling water. Cover and steep for 15 minutes, strain and use immediately as a spray. No phytotoxic effects were observed when spraying chamomile.

rhubarb spray

One kilogram of leaves in 2L of water simmered for 30 minutes makes an effective spray against small insects such as aphids and whiteflies. Rhubarb leaves contain oxalic acid, which is quite toxic, so use this spray at night time as well.

*The cannabis horticultural association has not tested all these methodolgies personally and cannot vouch for the safety or efficacy of all methodologies. If you choose to use these methods you do so at your own risk

Permaculture Continued, Under Construction…

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References

Bane, P. (2012). The permaculture handbook. British Columbia, Canada: New Society Publishers.

Bell, G. (2004). The permaculture way: Practical steps to create a self-sustaining world. Hampshire, United Kingdom: Permanent Publications.

Berry, W. (1981). Solving for pattern. In The gift of the good land: Further essays cultural & agricultural, 134-149. Berkely, CA: North Point Press.

Glanzberg, J. (2013, March). Permaculture and regenerative design. Presentation at Permaculture Interactive Series, Moab, UT.

Hemenway, T. (2001). Gaia’s garden: A guide to home-scale permaculture. White River Junction, Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing Company.

Holmgren, D. (2003). Permaculture: Principles and pathways beyond sustainability. Holmgren Design Services.

Holmgren, D. (2007). Essence of permaculture. Holmgren Design Services.

Holzer, S. (2004). Sepp holzer’s permaculture: A practical guide to small-scale, integrative farming and gardening.White River Junction, Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing Company.

Lancaster, B. (2013). Rainwater harvesting for drylands and beyond: Guiding principles to welcome rain into your life and landscape. Volume 1 2nd Edition. Tucson, AZ: Rainsource Press.

Mang, P., & Reed, B. (2012). Designing from place: A regenerative framework and methodology. Building Research & Information, 40(1), 23-38.

McManus, B. (2010). An integral framework for permaculture. Journal of Sustainable Development, 3(3), 162-174.

Mollison, B., & Holmgren, D. (1978). Permaculture one: A perennial agriculture for human settlements. Tagari Publications.

Nabhan, G. (2013). Growing food in a hotter, drier land: Lessons from desert farmers on adapting to climate uncertainty. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing.

Tainter, J. (2003). A framework for sustainability. World Futures, 59(3-4), 213-223.