Paul Wheaton of on Permaculture, Ponds and Perennials

Today on Grow Edible I talk permaculture, earthworks, and perennials with founder Paul Wheaton. Paul is the always outspoken, often unorthodox and occasionally wonderfully obnoxious “bad boy” of the Permaculture world.



Paul Wheaton

Show Notes

Today us today as we discuss:

  • What it takes to run the largest Permaculture forum on the internet.
  • Plant guilds and why apple trees are happier without the orchard.
  • How to let plants find their own best niche by creating lumpy, crazy, non-homogenous soil.
  • What carbohydrate will feed bacteria and starve yeast overgrowth in the gut.
  • How Permaculture lets Paul be lazy.
  • Why it’s so important that you put a crown on an earthworks dam.
  • Why sunchokes would be the greatest food perennial ever, if it weren’t for all that farting.
  • Paul’s new Three-DVD set on Permaculture earthworks, World Domination Gardening, and his mini-documentary on urban hugelkultur techniques.

Additional information and resources for today’s episode:

Not seeing the podcast player? You’re probably viewing this in your email. Click here to be taken to the web-version of this post, complete with podcast player where you can play or download this podcast.

If you like this new podcast series, you might want to subscribe in iTunes or add the Podcast RSS feed to your preferred podcast reader. If you think I should keep this up, help me grow the podcast by leaving a good review or comment in iTunes – that really helps.

The theme music for the Grow Edible Podcast is Rodeo, graciously provided by my friend, the supremely talented Kristen Ward. You can find Kristen’s music on iTunes and AmazonRodeo is off the Last Night on Division album – it’s one of my favorites!

Perpetual hat tip to Erik and Kelly of Root Simple, the cool Godparents of the urban homesteading movement. Erik and Kelly put out a sharp and edutaining podcast in addition to writing great books, running a fantastic blog and generally spreading their urban farm wisdom far and wide. They graciously allowed me to steal their phrase “audio companion.”


  1. Clare says

    Loved the info in the podcast, Erica! I do have a technical comment about the sound, though. I think your voice needs more bass boost because if I turn it up to hear your voice, I’m blown away by the volume on the male voice. Noticed this on a couple of them now. Thank you for your good work!

  2. says

    Great podcast, Erica. Paul sounds like quite a character. I LOVE permaculture, though I’m still a novice and learning about it. Lots of good information presented in the interview. I may have to try planting some sunchokes in our chicken run (protected until they get themselves established, of course). We’ve been discussing experimenting with Hugelkultur here at the Witch City Homestead. Paul’s DVD’s might be a valuable resource for us. Thanks for the interview. It was great!

  3. Sue says

    You know, this sounds really interesting, but I just hate podcasts. And iTunes..
    Can I read a transcript somewhere?

    • says

      Sorry, it takes me either a) about 20 hours to transcribe something like this, or b) costs about $100 to outsource that transcription job so someone else will do it. Either way, it’s not something I can do. Sorry about that.

    • Homebrew Husband says

      Note also that there’s no need to use iTunes in any way. You can listen in your browser. Or with other podcast apps.

    • David Crawford says

      If your issue is one of how to listen – I use Media Monkey – I click on the download- media monkey just starts! Truly simple.
      If your issue is finding the time to listen – I’m there with you – sometime it takes a 1/2 dozen short cycles to finish a “show”

      • Sue says

        Media Monkey is great! I’m sure I’m not using it to its utmost, but it’s absolutely the best tool I’ve tried.
        You’re right that time is a big part of it. I can read very fast, but there’s really only one speed to listen. Sometimes podcasts can be sped up, but the frequent backing up, repeating, and often terrible audio quality made me give them up as just way too much hassle for what I got out of them.

    • Robin says

      Sue, I’m glad you made this comment — I thought I was the only one here who hates podcasts. Really, the only thing I have against this particular podcast is that it’s full of interesting info that I won’t get to read, and that in a world of finite time and energy making more podcasts implies less time for written posts. Looking forward to the book!

      • Sue says

        Hi Robin,
        Thanks! I really hesitated to say this. I finally decided to say something when I noticed that Erica said she wanted to hear what people thought about the podcasts. It’s nice to know I’m not alone. :-)

        I agree, this subject is really interesting to me, and it’s something that I’m trying to learn more about. The podcasts are probably faster for Erica than writing an interview out is, though-as she mentions above.

  4. Tracy says

    Absolutely Awesome! There were so many times I relistened to the same section again and again to make sure I captured what he was saying. The homogenous soil comment was spot on, specifically for carrots and squash. I built some boring raised beds this year on our new property, and got a load of beautiful dark soil for a part of it and a crappier load of soil for the majority of it. The great soil has grown the hugest squash plant I have ever seen, usually my squash plants are CRAP!, but this one is planted in the corner of a bed and is taking over the lawn 12′ on each side, meanwhile my carrots planted right next to, are beautiful lush green tops, and spindly, pale roots, but the ones next to them in the crappy soil have less flamboyant tops but more goodness below.
    I am so inspired to build hugelkultur beds for the next garden extension I’m planning, as well as doing something similar in the greenhouse, where I am planning to remove the plastic during the winter allowing the beds to really soak up the moisture.

  5. Chris Willett says

    Enough with the sunchokes. They’re just not that good, no matter how much you pickle, lacto them, braise them, dry them, eat them with hamburgers, or fart them out.

  6. Mimi says

    I really enjoy the podcasts! I hadn’t really been interested in permaculture, but this was a great introduction to the benefits. Really liked the smaller scale permaculture information.

  7. Elisa says

    Love your podcasts! I started reading about sunchokes after your discussion. Since I have a small yard, do I need to plant them in a pot or otherwise somehow contain them so they don’t take over?

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