Permaculture in Practice: Obtain a Yield

What motivates you?

Even more importantly, what motivates you to do something that other people might think is too hard?For most of us, the answer is that we get back something, either tangible or intangible, that makes all of the hard work worth it.

That “something” is the yield. In many cases it is going to be something tangible. Heads of lettuce. Pounds of tomatoes. Fresh herbs. Eggs. Wool.

Sometimes it might be intangible. The knowledge that you’ve improved the habitat for wildlife in your little corner of the world, or have made a spot where a threatened plant thrives.

Regardless, the yield is important. It is what makes the effort sustainable for you. If it is a tangible yield, it is what cuts down on the outside resources you need to bring in to your life.

In the west, we tend to think of yields in terms of profit. Yield is something that is created and earned over and above the amount of energy that went into the effort. One person puts in 8 hours of work and gets back $100. Another puts in 8 hours of work and, almost like a magician pulling something from think air, gets back $10,000. We see the second person as more successful and their yield as better. Why? Where does that extra yield come from? Is it sustainable? Or is that person depleting other people or systems in order to get such an inordinately large yield?

It goes without saying, I think that the goal in permaculture is a sustainable yield. Instead of creating something out of nothing, permaculture attempts to create value while keeping inputs and outputs in balance. We try not to build a system that borrows value from other people or places, and we try to build a system that returns as much to the environment as it takes from it. We create energy loops.

With that in mind, here are some photos of my recent yields from the garden. Enjoy!

The pepper and tomato plants are growing strong! The tomato plants were all started from seed by my sister, whose dining room doubles as a greenhouse in spring. The pepper plant was purchased from a local garden center. Onions and cilantro (in a separate bed) and waiting for the salsa making to begin.

Calendula and dill reseed themselves in these beds every year and require absolutely no effort to sow or maintain. Calendula can be used as an effective salve and dill is delicious on just about everything. Obviously, it goes great in pickles, but also is delicious on potatoes, salmon, cheese, and can be added to stir fry or soup as a vegetable if you have large enough quantities of it.
The cucumber vines are starting to grow up one of the makeshift trellises in the veggie garden. Growing the vines upward keeps the cukes clean and easy to harvest.

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