In The Garden


Fedge May 2011


Permaculture in the Garden

Permaculture ethics and principles can be demonstrated easily within a garden as this is where most of them were observed and came about(well, natures garden). This page will hopefully show some of the differences and similarities between permaculture and conventional food growing.

When we observe something that is a good example of sustainable practice, we will add it to this page.


A guild is a permaculture term for two or more elements of a system that work well together. Here we have a good guild discovered at Harpsbridge House this year.


Bean Guild

Runner beans are hardier than French Beans and tend to set pods well in moist conditions. this is maybe why they are so popular to grow in the UK. However the pods can go stringy if left on the plant too long, and sometimes, in a dry summer the flowers can fail to set. Climbing French beans on the other hand are a little more tender, but are more drought tolerant, and stay stringless for longer. So we have combined the two. The runners were grown up the north side of the bean scaffold and were planted out during May. Once they were starting to crop(middle of June) we planted out the French beans on the south side of the scaffold. The Runners provided some shelter for the French while they were getting established and also a crop of young tender pods for a few weeks until the French beans started to crop. Once the french started the runners were just left to set seed.

So as a result the runners provided shelter for the French plus an early crop of pods, and some security  if the french did not perform(if there was a wet summer). While the french benefitted from the shelter and provided tender stringless pods all summer long(even if we forgot to pick for a few days). And finally we get a good harvest of runner beans seeds which are surprisingly tastey when made into bean burgers. Multiple function,observe and interact, stacking, multiple yield, any essential element is made of many components, and relative location are all permaculture principles demonstrated with this guild.



Polyculture is mixing up crops together to provide a more natural ecosystem. This confuses pests, disrupts the spread of desease, and looks a whole lot more interesting in our opinion!


Currants interplanted with broad beans, welsh onions and sorrel

Polyculture also takes advantage of the different times things mature and the different hieghts they grow. Different plants take a different balance of nutrients from the soil and inhabit a different root zone. 

Polycropping goes someway to copying the way things would grow naturally. We are trialing several different polycropping systems.



Mulching is the covering on the soil surface to preserve moisture, nutrients (by preventing oxidisation), soil errosion and weed germination. There are many things to use as mulches. We are trying nettles and other soft weed growth on this squash bed.

cutting mulch

 The weeds were cut by scythe and piled on the bed about 10cm thick .

The Fedge

The old fence finally collapsed and has been replaced wirth a lovely woven fedge -  a cross between a hedge and a fence made from different varieties of willow.

All the willow was either grown on site or grown a few miles a way where the owner exchanged a few hours of cutting for as many whips as we could carry(plus a rather good lunch - thanks Suzie)
 It will never need painting with preservative, provides a fodder crop for the goats, and plenty of kindling and weaving material for the house. And of course willow is the perfect tree for on the marshes. So a great permaculture solution to the rotten fence problem! 

Fedge at end of  the year it was planted.