How patterns work in agriculture design.
Patterns are generated in nature as a response to some form of energy. Some of the patterns are in a design to defect energy others to trap energy and others to incorporate energy to make stronger.
Most patterns do all three things.
The honey comb pattern is both an efficient use of space and also very strong to allow for very large wild bee hives.
Sheep ruts over a hill form patterns. Again this is a response to energy flows. Similar to the flow of water through a river. This then forms a nature terracing trapping water along the sides instead of running straight down.
So by using nature’s patterns in a permaculture design, energy can then be best utilized to build a better stronger environment for growing.
Observing the patterns in nature helps to understand the role of patterns in Permaculture.
A Kawakawa tree has sets of 3 quite large leaves all pointing away from each other as contributing to a cloud formation pattern on stalky branches to collect maximum energy. The Kawakawa can grow in semi shade as in the bush setting.
A kowhai has multiples of small alternating (not opposing) leaves up each small branch as in a tessalating pattern. These are so small, the plant although appearing crowded with large numbers of leaves, still receives maximum energy to each leaf. The Kowhai likes to have a sunny position.
This shows Nature has distributed its energy collecting leaves in an effective design to maximise the receipt of light/energy for the size of the leaf of the different plants.
Scattered trees in the paddocks appear to be random but around streams they are more abundant and concentrated because of the added energy obtained from the constant water supply.
The edges of eco systems are often very prolific. For example, the weeds that thrive around the edge of mulch placed to benefit a tree, are often very healthy as they are taking advantage of the mulch to fight their competition and provide natural fertilizer and moisture. Another example is where pockets in streams behind rocks and banks are quiet and almost still, allowing the edge of an ecosystem to be populated with the likes of water cress and similar water loving plants.
Permaculture teacher at Agrifutures.