Developing the Nearest Area First

We like the advice from Bill Mollison’s Introduction to Permaculture: “develop the nearest area first, get it under control, and then expand the edges” (10). When we’re feeling a bit daunted by the current disarray of the Farmlet, these words are comforting, and help us find a focus. The book also advises that the area of most intense cultivation, which needs to be visited most often, should be closest to the house. This sounds like a compelling shot of common-sense to us! In line with this advice, I’ve just started to create a herb garden right outside the kitchen door.


Our “nearest area,” or our house paddock, still has a long way to go in terms of its permaculture development. Bit by bit, we are trying to make it as productive as possible, replacing invasive and undesirable plants with plants that will produce food or otherwise be of use to us. Apart from one small potato patch over the fence, all our vegetables and other annuals are planted in the house paddock.

As spring warms the ground, our vegetables are not the only plants taking off in the house paddock. A few troublesome weeds are also coming to our attention. Over the past few days, we’ve been working at getting rid of young privet plants from around the yard. Privet is a very invasive weed in this climate, and will grow to form a wide and dense thicket as it seeds and spreads. A thicket of privet is not part of our plans for the house paddock, so those plants have to go. Once privet matures, it is very hard to get rid of, growing back from the stump whenever you cut it down. Luckily, younger plants are not too difficult to pull out.

Our first spring on the Farmlet is also bringing to light a few welcome surprises — purple irises and red hot pokers helping to hold the soil on steep banks by the driveway, and apple blossoms in the area that the previous owner started to establish as an orchard.

2 Responses to “Developing the Nearest Area First”

  1. tochigi says:

    1. Bill Mollison knows what he’s talking about;-)
    2. Privet! Kikuyu! Gorse! Blackberry! These things are a nightmare. Need to muster all the permaculture advice you can find. Are there any Northland permaculture mailing lists to turn to if you neighbours only advise “Roundup”?
    3. As long as your debris is not in the way, you know where stuff is and it’s not degrading too much, you should be right. I’m sure aesthetic concerns can be addressed over time too.


  2. Rebecca says:

    Thanks for the encouragement!
    We are lucky enough not to have any gorse or blackberry on this place, at least. We are also lucky that our neighbours don’t seem to be roundup types. Actually, our neighbours up the end of this road are auditors for Far North Organics, and are an absolute goldmine of help and advice. We’ve met a number of other people living locally who are doing permaculture. The local elementary school actually has its own food forest, which we are keen to take a look at. Perhaps I’ll ask around and find out if there is a Northland permaculture mailing list. That would be pretty neat.