Permaculture, Nepal and How soil soothes the Soul

This week has been miserable – grey, gloomy and I was feeling throughly glum at the prospect of it being only the beginning of Winter.  Having completed all my Bourrade work I was feeling rather jealous of Dan with hundreds of jobs to keep him occupied over the coming months.  But not for long! as a gift of an Aloe Vera sapling reminded me of how exciting soil can be.  So yesterday evening I began planning Springs assault on the soon to be vegetable garden and thinking about the problems we faced – lack of water, hungry animals keen on my produce, too much sun etc.  Water is a major concern here at Bourrade as we have no mains supply and rely on a well and basin to feed enough for all three houses.  This leaves little for watering of the gardens.  I remembered permaculture as encouraging the collection of water both in the ground and on the leaves of plants and decided to google it.  The most helpful information out there comes from http://www.permaculture.org where I found a fantastic booklet (more of an encylopedia) called The Farmer’s Handbook.  The author of the chapter I have read is an advisor to the Himalayan Permaculture Group which I just LOVE as I visited Nepal a couple of years and it makes me happy to think my time there.  Below are a couple of photos of the village I stayed in called Nuwakot.  There is the most wonderful drawing demonstrating how permaculture works, a sort of flow diagram showing how things feed into one another.  As I understand it the design of your garden is self sustaining and allows you to garden without impact on the countryside eg using a maximum of natural materials; mulch, compost, living fences (hedgerows), edge planting (to repelling insects), nature as shade (fruit trees), dense varied planting (to avoid weeds and minimise competition for the nutrients).This drawing could not be a more perfect illustration of what the higgeldy piggedly life in Nuwakot was like.  Needless to say permaculture is something I intend to research more.  I remember thinking how exciting the harvest must be in Nepal and how enticing the produce must seem after so much work.  Looking at my pictures it seems a little bizarre that I now have the chance to experience this for myself.

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