Plants, Climates and Soils

The ecosystem is an interconnected play of terrestrial energies, a collective dance between plants, climate, and soils. These relationships are always in flux, and influenced by human activity. Global warming shows us that we have the power to influence our global climate - permaculture asks, Why not manipulate the climate for better growing conditions?

Enter the world of gardening seen through the eyes of the ecosystem. Learn and acquire a variety of methods to alter microclimates, grow plant guilds, and build soil naturally. The soil is alive, and when you feed the soil, it feeds you. The more we learn about the ecosystem, the more we can build resilience, and receive abundant harvests in return.


1. Lecture 21 - Climate

Permaculture uses many simple methods to manipulate temperature and humidity in microclimates. Zones and sectors are a permaculture method for incorporating natural energy flows like wind, water, sun, and fire into the garden design. Learn about different ways to create microclimates, and how to invite, block, or store wind, water, sun, and fire.

2. Lecture 22 - Climate

Climate seems like a force of nature you'd never control, but in fact there are ways to change it on both a large scale and a local, micro scale. A little game demonstrating group energy can show you the principles behind planetary climate change. Max also introduces plant guilds and communities, greywater systems, appropriate technology, and biomimicry.

3. Lecture 23 - Climate + Zones

If the climate on your property isn't serving you well, you can create microclimates. Whether it's mitigating wind, blocking sunlight, or preventing fires, there's a solution available to fit your needs. Max teaches the class about zone analysis. Zones are designed to minimize energy spent on traveling. Learn about creative ways to zone, and innovative methods to create microclimates in your area.

4. Lecture 24 - Shelter + Climate

Like growing food and plants, taking on the task of building shelters is a great feat. You can expect to make mistakes in the process and sometimes, you have to start all over again. But it's okay, just laugh at yourself and move on. In this lesson, learn about how to build shelters from natural materials like earthen plaster, straw, wood, cob, and papercrete.

5. Lecture 25 - Design + Soils

Frustrated by your soil? In this lesson, learn about some simple steps you can take to build healthy soil. Max teaches natural and human methods to build soil, and also touches on how to create microclimates.

6. Lecture 26 - Soils

Soil is alive, going through a development process from young and fertile, to old and deadpan. Its texture, moisture content, and mineral content are all important to consider in choosing what to plant. Larry discusses a few big issues in permaculture and social change, then delves deep into the physical properties of soil - horizons, development, texture, organic matter, minerals, and nutrient composition.

7. Lecture 27 - Soils

Understanding the biology and ecology of the soil is essential to prevent disasters like nitrate groundwater contamination and the creation of dead zones from excess nitrogen runoff. It is the biology in the soil that provides the nutrients, and so it is the biology that we must take care of in order to grow healthy, abundant plants. Larry teaches the class about nutrient migration, decomposition, root growth, rhizosphere interactions, beneficial microbes, the role of micro-organisms, the effects of plowing on the soil microbial community, and ways to build soil. He also discusses plant nutrients, animals, and composting worms.

8. Lecture 28 - Soils

Soil has often been seen as a lifeless medium, carelessly kicked about as dirt. The truth we have come to learn is that the soil is alive. It is teeming with bacteria, fungi, and other micro-organisms. The soil is sculpted by the interplay of climate, water, and plant growth. Understanding these elements is integral to good permaculture design. Larry introduces the class to soils - how they are made, their composition in different ecosystems, its relationship with water, how mountains and valleys are formed over geological time, how soil erosion happens, and how the decomposition process happens.

9. Lecture 29 - Soils

Soils are incredibly diverse, given the changing climates and topography across the planet. One key question in permaculture is, how can we design our communities to blend in with the natural environment? Every community has different characteristics and needs. Larry discusses composting mechanisms, trees and fungi, soil microbes, soils in non-farming ecosystems, deserts, urban environments, and community-centered design.

10. Lecture 30 - Soils

Building soil requires feeding the soil micro-organisms organic matter, which can come in all different varieties. Learn about methods for building soil, suppressing weeds, attracting earthworms, reducing labor, and soil water filtration. From greywater to blue jeans, there's something you've got that will feed your soil and make it grow happy plants.

11. Lecture 31 - Soils + Misc

Sometimes you have to do things you can't morally align with, but it's important to be a bit flexible. Things never work out perfectly. Larry begins talking about his personal life and connection with Fukuoka, sharing stories of his time in Japan. Larry advises that if you must plow, use a soil ripper and not a soil mixing plow, just to break up the hardpan.

12. Lecture 32 - Soils + Misc

Larry Korn continues discussion about Fukuoka, sharing stories about his experiences with Fukuoka. He shares his story of the "hippy commune" where they fixed up the fields and hosted visitors. He talks about Bill Mollison, the founder of modern permaculture, and miscellaneous plant topics, such as fungi, plants, compost, fertilizers, and geography.