The Vegetable Garden

Ecological Vegetable Gardening

When we think of organic gardening and permaculture we tend to conjure up images of bearded warriors dressed in overalls who dedicate their lives to working long days in their vegetable plots.  Whilst this may be a wonderful way to live your life, it doesn’t suit the average suburbanite with a full-time job and a hefty mortgage.

High yielding, low maintenance vegetable gardening that’s perfect for our modern-day lifestyle

Growing food is typically seen as either an art form or damned hard work.  It’s no wonder that very few people produce enough food to feed their family.  But what if a technique came along that was so easy and so prolific that even the busiest corporate executive could grow a significant portion of their family’s food in less time than it takes to drive to the shops.  Ecological gardening just might be the answer.  In my experience, it’s the ultimate modern-day convenience vegetable plot.

An ecological garden is an ecosystem made up of edible plants, and it behaves in exactly the same way as a natural habitat.  Over time, you become more of an observer than a gardener as you watch Mother Nature do most of the work.

The wonderful thing about nature is that she works tirelessly, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Nature follows very simple laws and works in the same way, on any system, anywhere in the world.  To understand ecological gardening, observing natural ecosystems can provide us with the answers we need.  A natural ecosystem is made up of thousands of living and non-living components all coexisting in a given area.  Each living component occupies its own niche space and the role of the niche space is very important to understand when creating an ecological garden.

Let’s look at an example.  Imagine a giant rainforest tree crashing to the ground after standing tall for hundreds of years.  Such a large tree would have filled an enormous niche space.  Lying in the soil, hundreds of dormant seeds spring to life, desperately fighting for their opportunity to occupy the best real estate in the forest - the empty niche space.  The niche space is quickly filled and harmony is restored.

When we look at a traditional vegetable garden with this type of insight, what we see is a very unnatural system.  There is very little diversity and a lot of empty niche spaces.  Nature enforces her will on vegetable gardens in exactly the same way she does a rainforest, and this means that empty niches spaces will be filled as quickly as possible.  However, in a traditional vegetable garden there are no desirable seeds waiting to fill the niches spaces, so weeds fill them instead.