Obtain a Yield - Permaculture Principles

Informative article on how you can obtain a yield for your permaculture garden.

Hamish O'Brien

3 min read

This morning was warmer than the last two, which was layered in crunchy frost and felt icy cold. Yesterday I got up at 4am and had to wait half an hour for the hose to de-ice before I could start watering. I felt no rush. Enjoying the sweet calmness and chilly air in my lungs. Then I noticed more leafy greens flourishing in the allotment. Peaking in the polytunnel and it’s like seedling heaven. The yields are yielding.


Obtaining a yield is a measure of success. Whenever you practise something like guitar for example, you learn and then after a while you can play a song. This is one type of yield. But everyone knows the feeling that comes with the music and the enjoyment it brings. Similarly, planting an apple tree will give you apples, yes, but It will also improve the soil structure and fertility, give pollinators that sweet nectar and provide shade from the summer sun, among many other benefits. Therefore, the measure of success is susceptible to your perception of success. 


Whether you are totally in love with plants or you just want some grub, obtaining a yield is necessary. Permaculture is about maximising our yields for ourselves, our community and the earth. How do we get the most abundance from this site? How can we improve the soil fertility and structure using natural principles? How can we give back to the community?


Try monitoring your yields on any landscape (Physical or non-physical). For a small urban, roof-top garden you could examine the present yields of the site by writing a report. Observing and asking questions like; is it clean? Is the soil healthy? Nitrogen, PH and general nutrients levels? What about diversity, animal life and efficiency? 


Next, think of ways you can increase your current yields. Do you need to add more plants that are nitrogen fixing, mineral accumulators or soil structure supporting? How about ways of improving harvesting and maintenance or creating spaces for enjoyment. 


After careful observation, thought and planning take small and steady solutions to obtain your yields. Take the approach of ‘waste not want not’ and ‘how can this be useful?’ For example, many people still put weed killer on their lawns, even for plants like stinging nettles. Actually, nettles make excellent organic fertiliser if you soak them in a big tub for a month or so. In result, you have maintained the land by cutting the nettles back and you also get a healthy and natural fertiliser for free. These are the results you gain by working with the land. 


After each implementation of an area it’s a good idea to be patient and review the changes that occur before moving onto the next task. Let the data speak for itself, comparing your original yields at the beginning with current yields. Using the recorded information to influence your next steps, you’ll gain a better understand of what your specific site needs. 


1.     Observe: Create a report on the present yields of your site. 

2.     Plan: Ask yourself, how can I improve each element?

3.     Action: After conscious planning, take small and steady solutions. 

4.     Review: Create a new report and compare your progress with the original. 


At the beginning, more inputs are needed to kick start the permaculture project but as you move forward in the process you will notice that the eco-systems look’s after itself. Minimal effort gardens for the maximum output yields is the ideal for modern day gardeners and is possible with permaculture. Yet, many gardening gurus do not obtain this because they are too busy plucking tiny shoots out of the ground. Implementing permaculture designs to your garden ensure the eco-system does the work. After all, nature has been around billions of years without human supervision, all we are doing is making sure the yields are beneficial to both humans and nature.


Still have questions? Don’t think it’s possible? Feel free to contact me directly or comment below. At the bottom of this article I will link some documentaries that may be of use.


Obtain that yield!


With muddy hands and peace and love.



Seeds of permaculture - https://topdocumentaryfilms.com/seeds-permaculture/

Inhabit - http://inhabitfilm.com/

Living the change - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3d3rl6id_c&vl=en

A simpler way: Crisis as an opportunity - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUwLAvfBCzw

Back to Eden - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6rPPUmStKQ4

Growing cities - http://www.growingcitiesmovie.com/the-film/

Green Gold -https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YBLZmwlPa8A

The biggest little farm - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UfDTM4JxHl8

More films - https://happenfilms.com/permaculture/

A bigger list - https://blog.permaculture.org.uk/sites/default/files/permaculture_films_list_-_with_digital_links1.pdf