Today I talk about one of my favorite permaculture principles – using and valueing diversity.
First – against my better judgement – I explain why I’m not going to do a show on the ethics. I think the ethics are for the most part great guidelines as long as you are an ethical person. If you are not or you use them to judge someone else you should be shot. End of story. LOL
Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.
Redundancy. We have multiple things that serve the same purpose within our system. We don’t rely just on ladybugs and we don’t rely just on introducing them. We build habitat and we attract all types of things.
I like to think of one wild and one domestic. So I like peach trees but I also like my wild pawpaws. In my garden I like to have chickens/ducks or quail but I also want to the wild animals that serve the same purpose. Chickens will eat japanese beetles but ducks will eat slugs but lizards might eat whiteflies. The diversity allows for a broad ranging solution. Its like broad spectrum antibiotics. If you watch House that’s the first thing he gives a patient that is sick. If that doesn’t work then we look at specific solutions.
Diversity may mean just the things we want and that level of diversity. I look at diversity like this. If we even invite in some things we don’t want it may mean that those things bring the things we do.
Everything serves a purpose. We have to get off of the pest thing. There are no pests. Pests exist when our ability to recognize their value is lacking. Find what the thing is good at and what inherent properties it posesses.
Monoculture vs polyculture.
Diversity is different whereever you are. The more different species and lifeforms but also diversity of ideas. We don’t pooh pooh or discount any idea just because it isn’t ours. We have to listen to different views and not always just accept what is written, spoken or status quo. Remember Einstein was working in a patent office and everyone called him insane for the theory of relativity until they tested it.
Zone 5 is oft quoted as the zone with the most diversity because it is the wild place in the system. You should absolutely not limit wild places to just zone 5. Wild places in zone 1 garden provide diversity with insects, reptiles, amphibians and birds. You get trap plants you didn’t even know about and “weeds” bring in pollinators. In zone 2 you get pollinators for your orchard, your livestock will find delights in wild places. The wild places breed diversity. But diversity is also invited in with projects that integrate. Do not segregate your wild areas, integrate them.
Diversity is not just in lifeforms though I might talk about that the most. Diversity happens with almost anything. The height of plants. Edible Forest Gardens. Dave Jacke talks about the diversity that is created by having diverse tree/shrub heights. If everything is the same height its almost like monoculture. Perhaps a bird wants to sun but prefers a lower level. Diversity in landscape. Slopes are great for diversity. Bumps and humps, holes and rocks and dirt and log stacks and whatever else you can put into it or leave alone. Sometimes diversity is just about leaving things alone.
Water breeds diversity as well. All living things need water, the closer you put it the less they have to travel and leave your areas.
For plantings natives mean diversity but non-natives can help as well. Natives provide recognition so the things that come to those might also find the non-natives which is why I try not to look at just one or the other. I always prefer natives but the shear fact that they don’t always work for me means I will have a good mix of both.
Diversity means in essence the best I can distill it. There is room in our system for all things, people, ideas, animals, good, bad, right or wrong it all goes into it. What comes out is better than what went in.