Permaculture Principle 5 – Use & Value Renewable Resources

This principle encourages us to use nature’s abundance. Using biological resources means that they are inherently regenerative. This can range from mulch, cattle to yeasts. Biological resources use energy from the sun to make more of themselves and thus they do not become a waste product. An example of this principle is mulching your garden to suppress weeds. To do that you could choose to use cardboard or black plastic, both will do the job equally well. The difference is that cardboard slowly breaks down into the soil, feeding all the microbial life which will regenerate your soil. On the other hand using the plastic means that it slowly degrades in the sun, leaving bits of plastic in the soil and at some point what is left would require to be disposed of. It makes no contribution to the soil life and uses petroleum to be produced.

As far as is possible try to limit the need for dependance on outside resources by using what you have on your property. When you need mulch grow it. A good plant for mulch is lemongrass which has multiple uses. It can be used to edge out grass, to cook with, make a healing tea and the tops can be cut for mulch.

This principle applies to larger pieces of land as well. If you need to till consider using pigs, not only do they get rid of weeds and turn the soil at the same time they add to soil fertility through the deposit of manure which will regenerate the soil. The management of pastures is best done by cattle and sheep who through their grazing habit stimulate the pasture and once again drop manure for the microbial soil life to thrive.

When designing for your land or simply having a challenge to overcome ask the following questions

  1. How is this problem dealt with in nature?
  2. Does my solution rely on non-biological resources?
  3. If it does rely on non-biological resources am I able to replace the solution with a biological solution once the solution has matured?

We can all be part of a more sustainable cycle if we all think about and partake in nature’s cycles that are much better designed than our own.

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