Permaculture Principles for Gardening Beginners: Best Courses Online 2021

There is an ecological philosophy that was born in the 1970’s, and although relatively unknown in the beginning, has steadily gained recognition and acclaim, especially in the last decade.  

That philosophy for eco-friendly sustainable living is called Permaculture.

Permaculture Principles for Gardening Beginners: Best Courses Online 2021

Permaculture gardening, for beginners, can seem overwhelming at first. However, once the basic principles are learned and understood, we guarantee you will never look at gardening the same!!

Permaculture observes how nature sustains itself, and gives lessons on how we can be living in a sustainable, eco-friendly way.

It is a dynamic, living philosophy which is continuing to evolve.

Although food production remains an important focus, it is a comprehensive system that can be applied to all aspects of one’s life.

And the best part is there are many affordable permaculture courses online for you to build your knowledge from, and build your sustainable living practices into the future!

What is permaculture?

“Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted & thoughtful observation rather than protracted & thoughtless labour; of looking at plants & animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single-product system.”Bill Mollison (founder) 

Simply, the permaculture gardening definition is a basic concept examining and following nature’s patterns.

Permaculture is a design system, but also a way of living that provides for all life needs.  It advocates designing human systems based on natural ecosystems. 

The original permaculture gardening definition has expanded over time to encompass economic and social systems as well.  It is a dynamic movement that is still evolving.  For example, some practitioners are integrating spirituality and personal growth work into the framework of permaculture.

It Is a myriad of different disciplines that come together and have been constructed and overlapped with their functions to provide for everything.

Some disciplines include:

  • Architecture
  • Aquaculture
  • Agriculture
  • Ecology
  • Landscape/Garden design
  • Environmental science
  • Energy Conservation

It has connected these disciplines together and provided a way to create no waste, and live harmoniously with natural systems.

Why use permaculture?

There are a great number of positive reasons to adopt permaculture gardening principles into your living environment and projects.  The most impactful to you would include:

1. Plants Are Good For Your Mental Health

Plants have a positive impact on a person’s mental health, especially someone who is living in an urban environment, encouraging a sense of pride, ownership and purpose acting as a caregiver for this life.

2. Urban Permaculture Saves You Money

Urban areas covered with concrete can heat up to intolerable temperatures, far hotter than surrounding greener areas.  

Introducing plants to soak up the sun’s rays will cool the area down, which can save money on air conditioning.  Utilize plants on the roof, living balconies and plants that block direct sunlight from penetrating windows.

3. Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

The “zero-waste” approach is an important concept of permaculture, which will help to reduce your carbon footprint.  

Discarded food enriches the soil with nitrogen and carbon while egg shells strengthen a soil’s calcium content.

4. Perennials Help Local Insect Populations

Permaculture places heavy emphasis on native perennial plants, which are loved by local insect populations, providing an essential resource to local bee populations.  

You get the benefits of vibrant, native plant flowers that come from local insects pollinating your plants.

5. Urban Permaculture Improves Your Indoor Air Quality

If choosing to practice permaculture indoors, it will have a significant impact on the air quality of your home.  

In particular, the amount of particulate matter and Volatile Organic Compounds floating around in the air.

6. Keep Mosquitos Away

Permaculture strategically incorporates several plants, such as lemongrass, into garden design to help mitigate unwanted pests and insects.

7. Cut Down Your Food Costs

Growing your own food means buying less at the store.  

8. Food From Your Garden Is Healthier

Food straight from your garden is much more nutritious than from the supermarket, and it tastes better.   

Produce loses an average of 30% of its nutrients just three days after it’s harvested.  

Not nearly as much nutrient density as you’ll find in your homegrown permaculture garden.

9. Reduce Your Fertilizer Costs

Buying bags of artificial fertilizer adds up over time, and it’s unnecessary buying those nutrients in a bag form.  

Permaculture encourages the use of things like effective microorganisms, which can be produced almost entirely from your own food waste and food byproducts.  

Natural fertilizers like this feed your soil before sowing seeds, during the growth phase and even post-harvest.  

Healthy soil means healthy food.

10. Permaculture Strengthens Communities

Permaculture encourages principles like “land share”, which empowers individuals with extra land to share it with others in the area so food can be grown there.  

These can grow into grassroots, community-driven permaculture initiatives that bring strangers together and give communities a shared sense of purpose.

Who is practicing permaculture?

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There are many people who practice permaculture without realizing it:

  • Concerned environmentalists
  • Organic gardening practitioners
  • Conservationists
  • Land use planners
  • Urban activists
  • Recyclers
  • Indigenous peoples
  • Anyone working toward creating a sustainable human civilization

Permaculture followers study and learn about permaculture and consciously use it to live in a more sustainable way

The reason for this is that permaculture principles draw on a lot of ideas and practices that have been around for a long time.

Have you heard the terms ecological design, sustainable design, applied ecology or green design? 

These are other terms that describe the basic philosophy of using nature as a model to foster sustainability. 

The difference between these approaches and permaculture is their scope and focus. 

Permaculture draws on these systems and incorporates them into a broader framework. 

What are the ethics of permaculture?

When talking about permaculture, we can start by talking about the ethics because permaculture is an ethical design system.

Ethics are at the core of permaculture because permaculture is an ethical design system. It defines how one should behave toward the earth and each other.

The 3 Ethics of Permaculture:

  1. Care of the earth – our number one priority is taking care of the earth, making sure we don’t damage its natural systems.
  2. Care of the people – meeting people’s needs so living can be sustained while having a good quality of life, without damaging the earth.
  3. Accepting limits to population and consumption – realizing that, as humans, we cannot continue to increase and also sustain the planet. Limits must be put on our own growth and consumption, so that you can invest your resources in caring for the earth and caring for the people.

How can you practice and apply permaculture?

Because permaculture gardening for beginners is a comprehensive, dynamic system, it can be practiced in different ways and at different levels. 

The most common way to apply permaculture gardening principles is to select a place where you want to incorporate permaculture practices. Understanding the 12 principles of permaculture and how to apply them is a great place to start!

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The place can be your own life, or a physical space such as your home, an empty lot, a field, or your yard. The physical space may be urban or rural, may contain buildings, and may be populated. 

In other words, the site could be any place you choose. 

In permaculture, the place is often referred to as a “site”, and the process of incorporating permaculture principles is referred to as “site design”.

The site design process can be implemented through 3 steps:

1. Research and analyze the site

Identify the characteristics of your site – Examine its topography, climate, soils, water, flora, fauna, and infrastructure. 

Analyze the human element – Whose space is it?  What are their goals and resources?  Both the people and the earth need to be cared for.

Analyze incoming energies – What direction is the sunlight coming from?  The wind?  Pedestrian traffic?  

Analyze according to zones – Zones are a concept used in design work to help place elements.  Zones are determined by how frequently you go there.  Elements requiring more attention or used most frequently would be placed in the zones visited most frequently. 

Analyze needs and yields of the site’s elements – What will each element produce or contribute to the site (output)?  How many resources will it consume (input)? How much effort will you need to maintain it?  Permaculture is a holistic design system that needs to consider the relationship between all the elements in the system.

2. Create the site design

Using the findings from the research and analysis phase, create drawings showing the placement of different elements in your site.  The site design drawings can have a timeline since it may not be possible to implement all of your design at one time.

3. Implement the site design

Implementation may take place over a period of time.  Begin small, and gradually extend implementation as time, income and other resources permit.  Remember, changes in nature usually occur gradually over time.

Where to learn Permaculture Gardening for Beginners

To help you to begin, there are incredibly knowledgeable & affordable permaculture courses online.  They can help you determine which permaculture projects are right for you and for the environment you live in.

The beauty getting started in permaculture is you can implement as many or as few of the principles that you are comfortable with.  You can start with small changes, then build on those as time goes on.

You can find information on topics that are relevant to you and the stage you are at in adopting permaculture in your life, regardless of whether you are a beginner, or have experience in permaculture philosophies.

Founded in 2012, Organic Life Guru is funded by founders Chris Badgett, Samantha Langlois, and the occasional Kickstarter project. The goal of the company is to grow organically and help improve global ecology through a conscious approach to living and growing things.

Organic Life Guru helps students from around the world grow.  Whether you want to increase your job opportunities, break into a new growing industry, start a company, further a growing passion, or just accelerate your life, Organic Life Guru helps you learn from amazing instructors so that you can get there and get there faster.

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Students are able to receive the content from live organic growing workshops and events via online video without having to travel.  They can proceed through the course content at their own pace, at any time of day, and from anywhere in the world.

Their team recruits the world’s top experts, including best-selling authors, industry leaders, celebrities, professors, and regular people with incredible talents. These expert instructors have collectively taught thousands of students helping them learn everything from permaculture philosophy to soil science to food forest design and much much more.

Paul Wheaton is a powerful advocate of permaculture and its ability to solve many of the world’s problems. Paul is the owner of,,, and Wheaton Labs. He has produced over 400 podcasts, a multitude of youtube videos and multiple DVDs, has presented at over 100 events around the US, and has written dozens of articles and a book. The events he hosts at his property, Wheaton Labs, have resulted in rocket stoves and ovens, massive earthworks, solar dehydrators and and many other permaculture innovations.

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He began his journey toward permaculture innovation in 1995. He received his Advanced Master Gardener certificate in 1997, and started writing articles about permaculture techniques in 1999. Five years later, in 2004, Paul started up his permaculture forums. And things have grown exponentially since!

There are many, many course topics available at! Here are a few that we feel are ideal for permaculture gardening for beginners.

Book: Building a Better World in Your Backyard

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“For nearly every global problem, there are solutions we can implement in our backyard that also save us money and help us live more luxuriant lives. A few of us do these things and bask in the glow of the opulence and extra cash. Others observe and think “I want extra luxury and money too! Not fair!” and then they emulate. And on and on it goes. Then the global problems sorta just dry up and blow away. That’s what this book is all about.

Rocket Ovens DVD Set

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Rocket Mass Heaters DVD Set

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Permaculture Design Course and Appropriate Technology Course Videos

This 177 hours of video is a complete recording of Paul Wheaton’s 2017 Permaculture Design Course and Appropriate Technology Course. You will learn from experts in their fields, Tim Barker, Helen Atthowe, Thomas J. Elpel, Paul Wheaton, and many more!

Permaculture Design Course Appropriate Technology Course
Permaculture Design Course Appropriate Technology Course button


How do you Permaculture a vegetable garden?

There are a virtually an unlimited number of ways to accomplish this. A basic example could be:

1. Determine your best spot to grow vegetables in permanent beds.
2. Grow the perennial herbs and vegetables that are adapted to your site, soil and climate.
3. Enrich the boundaries with berries.
4. Use mulching, drip irrigation and composting to minimize water inputs and eliminate waste.
5. Watch, learn, and adapt!

What are examples of Permaculture?

Permaculture is a basic concept of examining and following nature’s patterns. With this in mind, examples of permaculture would be, but not limited to:

1. Buildings that support outside plant life
2. Backyard and balcony gardens
3. Energy-saving green initiatives (eg. solar power, wind capture, grey water reclamation systems, rainwater storage)
4. Composting and mulching
5. Forest food gardens
6. Integrating animals with flora and fauna

Why do we need Permaculture?

Permaculture is important because it is the only design system for food production we currently have that has the potential to be beyond sustainable. Being sustainable is the bare minimum for long term survival of humanity. Our food production systems must have a net positive result, or the population must decrease to a level where the equation becomes balanced.
Permaculture is sustainable because the energy required to establish and maintain the system is less than the energy extracted from the system over its lifetime.
This is achieved through a number of techniques such as “closing the loop” on waste products through the use of highly interconnected systems.

How do you practice permaculture?

For those interested in becoming practitioners, even if on a small-scale, it doesn’t require owning a garden, diving into a rural lifestyle or even giving up the supermarket. All permaculturalists, no matter where they live, are meant to care for the earth and for other people.
1. Reduce your waste
2. Reuse what you can
3. Grow at least something to eat
4. Buy local
5. Become a systems thinker
6. Build healthy soil
7. Plant a forest food garden
8. Create resiliency, especially in yourself
9. Let animals be animals
10. Use biofuels, like vegetables oils, to run diesel engines

What is a Permaculture Designer?

Permaculture Designers create spaces that are self-sufficient and gentle on the environment. The job of Permaculture Designer is all about working with what they’ve got. They start projects by observing the land, including the plants and animals that live there. They find ways to connect things in an earth-friendly way. For example, if a garden needs fertilizer, you might plant trees nearby in order to encourage local birds to move in. You can imagine this job as one big circle. What one thing produces (say, animal manure) becomes something another takes in (fertilizer for plants). You use nature as your guide, taking the way things have been working for years, and applying it to all sorts of spaces, from homes to farms to large tracts of land.