How Permaculture has Made My Family Mealtimes Healthier.

Hanging Salad Container
A hanging balcony salad box with cut and come again red lettuce

One of the most useful concepts I’ve learned from permaculture is the zoning system. The simple idea that you site areas of activity physically close to yourself in accordance to how much time that particular activity demands.

Basically you start at your house, call that zone 0. Most of us spend the majority of our time in the house. The area immediately around the house (zone 1) is where it makes sense to place those things that need a lot of time or contains those things you need a lot. This is where you would site your herb garden or any animals you look after such as a hen house.

Zone 2 is a little further out and where you’d place and orchard or animal pasture. Zone 3 is where you’d put large scale farmland. Say a field of rapeseed or corn. Somewhere you will not be checking on every single day. Zone 4 is usually reserved for woodland, maybe you need to visit here a times a year for firewood or foraging. Zone 5 is reserved for wilderness, somewhere that needs no looking after and where nature takes care of everything.

Permaculture Zoning
My rough and ready guide to the Permaculture Zoning system

So why has this made me healthier? Normally I grow lots of lettuce and salad greens. Much to sell but also to eat myself. They were firmly placed in zone 1, right next to the house just over a small fence. The theory was that I would just hop over when making dinner, grab a handful of lettuce and other greens and sprinkle them effortlessly over a super healthy meal just like you see on a cookery tv show. Unfortunateley in the real world I would start dinner having forgotten to pick any beforehand then whilst in that brief period of time when everything was cooking nicely and the kids weren’t screaming or destroying something I would consider running outside to pick some salad. Just the thought of getting my shoes on, jumping the fence and bending down to pick while visions of little kids pouring boiling pans over themselves back inside flooding my mind, well, it kind of put me off. Consequently we often went without fresh greens. Not a killer but a shame as it was growing outside.

So what did I do? Become more organised and pick before dinner? Ha ha, if only. I moved some of the salad from zone 1 (around the house) to zone 0, inside the house. Well almost inside the house. We have a balcony outside the front door with a wooden hand rail. I saw some well priced hanging planters and with some compost and seeds made up a few salad containers. Now I can open the door and pick in under a minute while keeping an eye on dinner and the kids. And guess what, we all have fresh greens for dinner now. How healthy!
This also works with pots of herbs and salad inside the house. Preferably on a sunny windowsill. You get a lot less slugs too.

Coriander in balcony planters. Cilantro
I have 3 containers of coriander (cilantro). The seed in each has been sown several weeks apart (successional sowing) to ensure a constant supply of fresh leaves.
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  • Diane Holliday

    13th June 2018 at 8:23 pm Reply

    I wonder if you have managed to grow basil..? I have had several attempts but it never gets going in my greenhouse. Other herbs do well though.

  • sunnyorchard

    13th June 2018 at 10:05 pm Reply

    Hi Diane. I’ve some Holy Basil (tulsi) in the greenhouse. This is really for herbal tea. I’ve also got some lemon basil (like ordinary basil but a bit lemony) growing in the greenhouse. I start them in them in little seed trays in the house about March time and transplant into the greenhouse soil in May in the sunniest spot. I don’t think basil likes it cold or wet. More Umbria than Cumbria!

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