Difference Between Permaculture and Organic Gardening

There are a lot of different types of gardening methods, and many people have started undertaking domestic gardening. Various techniques are used to suit their produce needs. There are two types of gardening that are becoming more common now than ever, permaculture and organic gardening. Let us check out the difference Between Permaculture and Organic Gardening.

difference Between Permaculture and Organic Gardening
difference Between Permaculture and Organic Gardening

Before going into the details about the difference Between Permaculture and Organic Gardening, let us understand what is Permaculture Gardening and what is Organic Gardening?

What Is Permaculture?

What Is Permaculture? Traditional gardening typically uses a one-size-fits-all technique for growing crops. It is a single concept related to what the gardeners want to grow instead of what type of plants are suited to a particular patch of land.

Permaculture gardening involves the concept of using plants that grow well in the local environment. You choose the plants that are fit for the climate you are in.

For instance, plants in dry climates are grown using different techniques compared to the ones used to grow in humid climates.

Similarly, cold climates support different flora than hot climates. Permaculture methods are assimilated from different sources. Anyone can adapt their garden to whichever methods are required for the plant hardiness zone and the climate.

Permaculture merges resources, land, environment, and the people through beneficial synergies. It is meant to apply holistic solutions that can be applied in urban and rural contexts at any scale.

It involves multiple things like water harvesting, animal systems, agriculture, hydrology, energy, natural building, aquaculture, forestry, waste management, appropriate technology, community development, and economics.

Many permaculture gardening methods and designs do fairly well in a wide variety of climatic conditions. Apart from climate, permaculture gardening is focused on preparing soils to make them richer in nutrients and balanced over-time.

Soil is the base which is responsible for the growth of our food. We need to ensure it is in the best condition. All of the health benefits of growing our own food comes from having healthy and robust soil. Permaculture systems are specifically designed to be sustainable and easy to care for.

They create ecosystems that have in-built mechanisms to help continuously revitalize the earth and keep the crops healthy.

The word permaculture was originally coined by an Australian David Holmgren and his professor Bill Mollison. Bill Mollison was considered the father of permaculture, and he collaborated with David to publish a book called “Permaculture One.” This was the very first book introduced to the public, which outlined the permaculture designs. “Introduction to Permaculture” by Bill Mollison describes permaculture as “a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless labor; and of looking at plants and animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single-product system.”

In order to understand the basic idea behind permaculture, we need to acknowledge the importance of three ethics: people care, earth care, and fair share, also known as “return of surplus.” These three elements guide the chain from forests and gardens to homes and power systems, to earthworks and water catchment systems.

Permaculture has twelve principles that can be applied to our gardening rituals, which create a more sustainable environment for our plants and us.

Before reading, difference between Permaculture and Organic Gardening, I hope you got what is Permaculture gardening.

What is Organic Gardening?

What is Organic Gardening? Organic gardening is a type of gardening method that doesn’t utilize synthetic products such as pesticides and fertilizers. It involves only natural products to grow plants. It replenishes the resources as it uses them.

In organic gardening, plants are considered as parts of a larger natural system that starts with the soil, water supply, wildlife, people, and insects. It is the epitome of an environmentally friendly food source.

An organic gardener ensures that its activities are in synergy with the natural ecosystem and minimizes the exploitation while replenishing the garden’s resources.

Organic gardening involves supporting the health of the entire garden naturally. It means that the focus is put on the quality of the produce rather than the quantity. There is also little to no wastage because the compost used in organic gardening comes from natural resources.

The fundamentals of organic gardening require that the growing of the plants create an ecosystem that does more than just putting seeds into the ground and allow them to grow. It focuses on sustaining the soil microbes and plants that not only benefit the crops but the insects and other animals in the vicinity.

Difference Between Permaculture and Organic Gardening

Now, let us see the difference between Permaculture and Organic Gardening.

Permaculture vs Organic Gardening
Permaculture vs Organic Gardening

Even those who practice permaculture find it difficult to define it because it is not just one method of doing a particular thing in agriculture, it is a combination of different theories. Therefore, narrowing it down into a simple definition is a bit difficult.

Permaculture is a movement that branches into things good for people, earth, and community. As mentioned earlier, it is a way of sharing and sustaining energy and involves reforestation. It is not limited to gardening; permaculture is also used when designing our homes and spaces that are more thoughtful and play a key role in sustainability.

However, many people are attracted to the agriculture aspect of permaculture and often confuse it with organic farming. Although both the methods hold a similar stance of avoiding synthetic products for the plants, there are some fundamental differences between how they operate.

Those who want to grow plants using permaculture need to understand the distinction between the two methods. That is the very first step of gardening, to research and get information about what you are about to do. Here are the main differences between permaculture and organic gardening.

1# Crops

Both organic farms and permaculture grow food, but there are major differences in the type of food they cultivate. The foods in the produce isles are derived from an annual crop, whether they are organic or not.

It means that these crops have to be planted every year and are known as staple foods. These foods include corn, rice, legumes, and many other types of vegetables. For organic gardeners, a few annual crops are the sole output.

However, permaculture takes a different approach. Sometimes know n as “lazy farming,” it focuses mostly on perennials. Perennial plants are those that produce through hundreds of seasons. The harvest doesn’t need to be nurtured or sown everywhere, only occasionally maintained.

Some annuals are grown into permaculture plots, but they are not the sole food provider. There are many types of crops grown together.

2# Technique

One of the major difference between Permaculture and Organic Gardening is the technique used in both the gardening.

In some cases, organic farming involves rows upon rows of single crops. This technique is known as monocropping. Since farms are able to operate with the same irrigation system with sprinklers jetting out tons of water, a lot of it evaporates before it even feeds the plants.

As long as there are no chemicals involved, they will still be considered organic; it doesn’t matter how many resources are utilized to grow the crops.

In permaculture, doing so is a serious breach of its design system and ethics because of the no-waste principle.

In this method, crops are grown together so one can revitalize the soil, while the other can provide cover to prevent the land from drying out.

Some attract beneficial insects, while others deter pests.

The irrigation system doesn’t use sprinklers; instead, it uses rainwater catchments such as ponds and swales. Permaculture gardeners avoid utilizing public water resources, and even if they do, it is used in an efficient manner that is least harmful.

Anything less than being considerate of using and wasting resources would go against the principles of permaculture.

3# Pest Control

Another major difference between Permaculture and Organic Gardening, is the way we use pest control.

Another conflict between organic and permaculture gardening is pest control. In organic gardening, organic sprays such as insecticides, herbicides, and pesticides are used. 

Organic farmers use organic sprays to control or kill weed and insect populations. It solves mostly any problems the plant is facing during its growth. This is standard practice to protect commodity crops. On the other hand, the use of sprays in the garden is both unnecessary and unacceptable in permaculture gardening.

Permaculture gardening aims to create an ecosystem that allows all living organisms, such as plants, animals, beneficial insects, and pests, to function together. Beneficial insects eat the pests and help control the population.

In permaculture, gardening problems are less likely to get out of hand. When pesticides and insecticides are used, everything dies, including beneficial insects.

Eventually, the pests come back because there are no predatory insects to deter them. The ecosystem never reaches the right balance because of the rampant use of sprays.

4# Soil

Another difference between Permaculture and Organic Gardening is soil.

Soil is the most important element of farming. We plant the crops when we want to grow food but how it grows varies depending on the earth’s soil. Using nutrients and fertilizers to facilitate the soil has become common practice everywhere, especially in regards to industrial farming.

These methods are done so often they almost seem intuitive. If you witness someone with zero gardening experience trying to grow plants, they will dig the soil and form raised rows.

Images of raised rows are displayed on almost every product label, and most of the organic farming is done using this particular method.

Permaculture aims to maintain the soil’s sanctity. Instead of plowing the soil every year, you dig the soil once and cover the spot continuously with enriching and protective components like in-situ compost and mulch.

This technique of tilling the soil only once ensures the built-up of soil. When organic material is added, the crowd becomes fertile, not requiring fertilizers. When the soil isn’t tilled, everything within it that’s running the system thrives rather than struggle.

5# Closed and Open Cycling

There is a massive difference between open and closed food productions. In a closed system, there is no loss of energy; it is simply transferred from one variable to another.

In a permaculture gardening, energy is being used by one element and then passed on to another before entirely leaving the system. Since organic gardening makes use of fertilizers, the waste of one plant becomes food for another.

However, with just like nay farming, in organic farming, all the nutrition is lost when the produce is carried from the garden to the market.

Permaculture farms bring food production closer to the consumers and use consumer’s waste into the cycle of production. It reduces the amount of energy wasted, bringing the food back and forth since the food is produced where people reside.

People in permaculture contribute to the production of their food and needs in daily life. It is a way of life rather than a method of gardening.

In some cases, permaculture gardening isn’t completely organic because rather than importing organic resources, it relies on local resources.

In some cases, unusual plants and seeds are utilized for diversity, and they are not necessarily organically sourced. Now it doesn’t mean that permaculture farmers intentionally use pesticides. They use it, so the by-product of the pesticides doesn’t go to waste.

Old shoes are used as pots for plants, and an old tire is used to contain the pond. There is a quick cost-and-benefit analysis in permaculture that organic gardening doesn’t have. Everything has a use for something in some way or the other. Again, this concept comes from one of the principles of permaculture.

When local resources are used in permaculture, the benefits are weighed. For example, the benefit of using local waste like horse manure would be weighed in comparison to buying organic waste from a supplier in another location.

When operated and designed properly, permaculture farming can act as a cleansing or processing agent. Sometimes, local waste is transformed and then utilized. When using horse manure, the horse owner will be asked whether the anti-worming medication was used or not to check if it can be processed in high-temperature composting.

In Permaculture, the gardening outcome of producing food is considered over the input. Organic gardening doesn’t necessarily have systems to check whether it is impacting the ecosystem as a whole.

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The permaculture garden is a system that is focused on blocking the fertilizer loop by using local waste and reducing the dependency on other external inputs by creating healthy soil.

Also, permaculture gardeners take responsibility for the waste their gardens produce. They don’t believe in polluting the surrounding environment. They don’t release nitrogen in the water system. The entire system is to minimize the energy and chores put into gardening.

Few permaculture gardeners enjoy repetitive hard work. Observation and variety keep these gardeners excited and engaged. People who are adamant about reducing their carbon footprint and live a healthy, eco-friendly life undertake permaculture gardening.

This method of farming engages all types of people with different abilities and aims to imitate nature.

Visually you can see a noticeable difference between organic and permaculture gardening. Permaculture gardens are more holistic. You will rarely see any bare soil because the conservation of water and soil is highly prioritized.

The space is used in a complex manner. The plants are interplanted to deter pests, and no crops are planted in a row unlike, organic gardens. Every natural resource from water to sunlight is maximized, including wind, leaves, bird droppings, and dust.

This system’s goal is to provide habitat and food for people, birds, and native animals. Besides a few differences between organic and permaculture gardening, there are some similarities, and one of them is “zero panic” when it comes to pests or insects around the garden. Balance and self-regulation occur when the garden is left to its own devices.

In some cases, plants need protection; they are treated with plant preparations to make them healthy and strengthen the resistance. Without a doubt, organic and permaculture gardening is both relevant methods that protect the environment. Both take into account the human and environmental health by growing plants in the most efficient and eco-friendly way.