What is the ninth principle of permaculture?

Use small and slow solutions.

In the fourth principle, we learned that we may not always get what we want from our yards. In the ninth principle, we remember that we may not get what we want as quickly as we might like.

Permaculture involves working with nature, and nature tends to do things slowly. This can be frustrating in our high-speed, instant gratification culture. But in the end, nature’s patient processes are often more effective than any quick fix we might use instead.

For example, when we plant a tree in our yard, we want to plant the biggest tree we can bring home. After all, we want a fully-grown tree, not a little sapling! But, the bigger the tree, the more trouble it will have re-establishing in its new location. A smaller tree, which can settle in more quickly, will soon start putting its energy into growing. Before long, the smaller tree will surpass the bigger tree.

Similarly, when we want a plant to grow, we try to help it in every way we can: we bring home fertilizers and pesticides from the store, douse the plant with water from the hose, and prune stray leaves. But the plant doesn’t need that much help. It will do much better if we simply put it in a location that gets the right amount of sun and water, if we prepare that spot by working compost into the soil, and if we let the plant decide which of its leaves it doesn’t need anymore.

Small and slow solutions are the process equivalent of appropriate technology. They require advance planning and plenty of patience. But in the long run, they lead to better outcomes for lower cost and with less backbreaking labor.

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What is the ninth principle of permaculture?

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