That humbling moment

Over the last week, since the first weekend of the permaculture design course, I’ve been quite churned up. Wondering why I was doing the course, wondering how it could benefit me, wondering if it was in fact all a load of nonsense.

Then, I got the email this evening with a reminder of what we had done on the course so far with details of what to look for when designing. Thus, I sat down to write up a description of my gardens, including what might be termed ‘leakages’.

Now, some of the weak points I am all too well aware of, such as soil fertility and sunlight – or lack thereof. But the more I dug, metaphorically speaking, the more I realised how planning could help make my garden a place that works.

Having done my garden in a piecemeal, unplanned fashion, I’ve ended up with a bit of a challenge to sort out. Particularly in the area on the south-west side, where the garden path used to be. You see, what I really need is a shed. 

The only place I think the shed could go is where the remnants of the greenhouse stand. Fine – the ground isn’t up to growing stuff in its current state anyway. But then what about the bins and the trees and getting the bikes in and out of the garden. Oops!

At least the penny’s dropped that I can learn a lot that will be of benefit to me, even if that means coming out of my comfort zone. In sum, I need to plan rather than acting on the hoof. Could be good in other ways, too, that could!


About Helen

I have always been interesting in living a more environmentally friendly lifestyle and used to do what I could. Now, I have come to realise that we have reached such a point in terms of environmental degradation that it is more important - perhaps - to focus on building resilience. I therefore do as much as I can to reuse, grow my own and encourage a supportive community, for example. I also keep reading and learning all the time.
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29 Responses to That humbling moment

  1. andy1076 says:

    Hope you’ll have a great turn out šŸ™‚ I do like the walkway heh šŸ˜€

  2. There is a lot to be said about planning. There is also a lot to be said about doing things by the seat of your pants. Both have merits. I guess the learning comes down to which method works best for the project at hand.

    I’m glad you’re learning something new.

    By the way, is that a current photo? Is it in front of or behind your house? I couldn’t make out the space you are thinking of for a shed. Also, is the lack of sun from trees, houses or simply the climate you garden in?

    • Helen says:

      Yes, you’re right about both methods of approaching a project being viable. So far, I’ve achieved what I want to achieve in the way that I want to achieve it – I’m not sure I could have done differently anyway as you can’t take into account what you don’t know, can you?

      There are certainly situations in my life (not in the garden) where planning would have been futile. So if I had been an avid planner, I might have been very frustrated šŸ˜‰

      Anyway, regarding the photo, I took it on 8th January and it’s my back garden. You might just be able to make out the remnants of the greenhouse on the top right hand side. This is where the shed would probably go?

      It is also the spot where I’ve started sheet mulching – you can see the cardboard – as I was thinking of turning it into a growing space. My dad convinced me I need a shed, though – this would be safest for our bikes and would help declutter the house, particularly of all the garden tools I have in the living room!

      The lack of sun is from neighbouring trees. It’s not so bad in summer, when the sun gets high enough to be above them. Surrounding houses and fences also block some light from reaching the ground but that in itself is not so bad. However, even in summer, part of the back is in shade more than the rest, so in an ideal world I would have the shed there, but that would mean ripping the apple tree out.

  3. Yes, it’s about more than just gardening. šŸ˜‰

  4. Lovely update Helen thank you for sharing have a blessed day

  5. Kalamain says:

    We all have those moments where all the work you did was a mistake and then you have to go change it.

    I have done that FAR too often now as I learn new things… *sigh*
    Its all a learning curve! You just gotta keep going!

    • Helen says:

      Yes, very true! And there is also such a thing as changing your mind or needing to change (e.g. we didn’t have bikes this time last year, so I couldn’t really plan that into my garden).

      • Kalamain says:

        Fair point.
        If you get a shed make sure it has a good lock on it if you are putting bikes in there.

        • Helen says:

          I guess it would be safer than bike locks and tarpaulin, which would be the easier, short-term storage solution?

          We got the bikes from so we’re not talking vast amounts of money here – rather the disappointment of loss.

          • Kalamain says:

            LOL…. That’s where we got the minions bike from!
            One trick for you, if you can do it… Is to get a bit of concrete made up and set a bike lock in it and chain the bikes to it. Not perfect but it does work!

          • Helen says:

            Now there’s an idea šŸ˜‰ I’d like to avoid permanent structures such as concrete but it would definitely make theft a bit more difficult! I’m not sure how likely the bikes would be to get stolen. A friend keeps the bikes under tarpaulin in Chapel Allerton, which may be a safer than round here, though I think all LS postcodes have the same rating.

          • Kalamain says:

            Better to be safe than sorry… And you only have to sink a small square foot or so of it… Its not THAT permanent. Its just to make it more than a little difficult.

  6. don’t plan too much – and certainly don’t blame yourself for not planning – half the fun is in the doing it in the moment. good luck though

    • Helen says:

      Thank you, Jackie. The whole point of permaculture design is to plan in minute detail, it seems, though. So how do I do a course which takes the joy out of life (from my perspective as a spontaneous individual)?

      Anyway, I’m glad to have your back-up that not planning is a valid approach šŸ˜€

  7. I felt like that too with different elements of permaculture but you will learn lots and it will certainly benefit you! Enjoy ..

  8. atkokosplace says:

    I plan sometimes too much and in the end I still might have to change something, because what we all have is the uncertainty of the future. I’ve spent over five years preparing an area that is full of hard clay. I’ve made lovely raised beds and garden areas only to lose it to an addition. There is another area I can garden in but over five years worth of bringing in good soil and all the …. Well you get how much goes into a job like that. I’m not so sure I want to do it all again. And then there’s still the idea of moving. So do we do an addition? Do we move? And do I even plan for a garden this year at all? I’m still determined to have an amazing year whatever comes of it. Good luck with your plans! šŸ™‚

    • Helen says:

      Thank you, Koko, and sorry to hear that your hard work seems to have been for nothing – or not enough.

      My post seems to have produced a wealth of interesting perspectives. And I agree that if you plan too much you could be wasting time one way or another, simply because you don’t know what the future holds.

      I think the point of permaculture design is to plan for the here and now, as much as anything. Ie it is to help you see pitfalls that could be an obstacle to what you want/need and to therefore be able to find solutions which don’t mean more work in the long run.

      The other point of the design is to make the project as resilient as possible – because of taking into account the different perspectives. But at the end of the day, it is still only going to work, all things being equal šŸ˜‰

      I hope whatever your decisions you have a great year and whatever you do it brings you comfort/pleasure.

  9. Hi Helen,
    I am one of those gardeners who is either outside doing something or inside planning. I plan because it is part of my nature and it entertains me when I am not gardening. If I had to give one up it would be the planning.

    I have never taken a permaculture course, but I read Bill Mollison’s first book. I love it but was 25 years in before I read it. I would rather you have fun with your garden and make all kinds of messy mistakes and move stuff around and enjoy.

    I did a lot of planning for my life too. Those errors gave me some heartache too… but as I get older I am enjoying my past more.

    • Helen says:

      Your last comment struck a cord with me – we make mistakes whether we plan or not! That said, I don’t regret mistakes I’ve made, perhaps because I didn’t plan them. I do think that planning takes the fun out of the journey as well.

      Anyway, thank you for taking the time to read my post and share your thoughts. I’m glad you are starting to be able to enjoy the past more.

  10. What are those black panels? Could they be lighter to bounce sun around?

I love to read about your own experiences and any other feedback you have, so look forward to your comments below.

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