Your First Year of Permaculture: What to Expect!

In the first year of a permaculture project, you can expect to spend a significant amount of time planning and designing your system. This will involve assessing the site on factors such as the climate, soil, and water availability, as well as the existing plants and animals in the area. You’ll discover pests and predators, and the “beneficial” plants and animals like pest-control species and pollinators in your area.

Grow and raise your first plants and animals

Red-leaf Amaranthus (Amaranthus tricolor)
Red-leaf Amaranthus. ksblack99/Flickr

From your assessment, you will decide on the specific plants and animals you want to include in your permaculture system. This will also involve researching the best practices and techniques for growing and raising these plants and animals in your specific area.

Implement your system

Once the design is complete, you will begin the process of implementing your permaculture system. This may include tasks such as clearing your land, preparing the soil, planting, and installing water management features. It is important to be patient and not expect to see results instantly. It will take time for the plants and animals to establish themselves and for the ecosystem to become fully functional.

Build, monitor and document

aerial view of forest
Photo by Tom Fisk on

In the first year, you can expect to do a lot of work on the physical side of things, as well as monitoring and observing the progress of your permaculture system. It’s also important to keep track of the yield and progress you have, this will help you make adjustments as needed.

Your first harvest

It’s important to keep in mind that permaculture is a long-term process and the yield may not be significant in the first year. It will take time for the plants and animals to establish themselves and for the ecosystem to become fully functional.

person holding brown and green vegetable
Photo by Markus Spiske on

During the first year, you may get some harvest from hardy, fast-growing plants such as leafy greens, herbs and root vegetables. However, it may take several years before you see larger yields from fruit trees and other perennial crops.

Note that permaculture systems are designed to be self-sustaining, rather than focused solely on maximum yields. This means that the primary goal is to create a diverse, resilient ecosystem that can provide food, medicine, and other resources over the long-term, rather than just maximizing production in the short term.

Also keep in mind that the yield will depend on the specific design and location of your permaculture system. Factors such as climate, soil type, water availability, and the specific plants and animals you choose will all play a role in determining the yield. Additionally, the design and management of your permaculture system will also affect yield.

Be realistic about the yields you can expect in the first year and focus on building a healthy and resilient ecosystem that can provide long-term yields. Keep track of the progress, yields and adjust your design as needed.

Improve your soil

You can expect to spend a significant amount of time assessing and improving the quality of the soil in your permaculture system.

earthworms on moist dirt ground
Photo by Antony Trivet on

During the first year, you will need to work on improving the soil structure and fertility. This may involve adding organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, to the soil to increase its fertility. This will improve soil-biology by encouraging the growth of microorganisms, worms, and other organisms beneficial to the soil.

You can also expect to spend time working on soil conservation and erosion control measures like terracing, swales, and other earthworks. These can help to keep the soil in place, retain moisture, and improve the overall health of the soil.

Focus on building soil biology, this means adding microorganisms, worms, and other beneficial organisms to the soil to help improve its structure and fertility.

You may need to spend time addressing any specific soil-related issues such as compaction, drainage problems, or nutrient imbalances.

In summary, you have to take your time to study your environment to determine the best annual crops and perennials to grow in your garden. In general, the first year of permaculture is labour-intensive, and you will not enjoy the system’s full potential. Remain patient, and you will enjoy years of bountiful production and a beautiful landscape.