When I was first doing research on permaculture as a basis for our garden/landscape plan here in OKC, I ran across Bob Waldrop's website where he listed all the kinds of plants he was growing (or that Nature was growing) on his small property in urban Oklahoma City. I was so inspired that someone else, here in my very same city, was using permaculture. I loved his list and thought I might be able to replicate his success here on my property.
Biodiversity is important for so many reasons, not only to benefit nature/our ecosystem, but also to add resilience to our own food systems. Having a larger variety of plants in your area provides different kinds of nectar and pollen and food to provide for more types of animals, birds and insects. Having a thriving population of insects balances the ecosystem and ensures that there are predatory insects around who will dine on your aphids and squash bugs (maybe).
Growing different varieties and kinds of fruits and vegetables makes it more likely that one variety will be suited to the weather conditions of that particular year, or will be particularly resistant to the bugs or diseases that are active that season. For instance, in one year lettuce might do very well, but spinach crashes. In another year, four out of seven varieties of tomatoes fall prey to spider mites, but three resist the infestation. In another year, only the okra survives a horrible drought.
Keep in mind that I live in an urban area - although our lot is about 1 1/2 to 2 times the size of other urban lots. We also have a lot of shade from my pecan trees in our back yard, which limits the space for our garden. Here's my list of things I'm currently growing (not necessarily harvesting yet!):
Fruits and nuts (fruit trees are semi-dwarf):
5 Blackberry (Apache, Arapaho, Navaho)
1 Persimmon (Nikita's gift)
2 Peach (JH Hale and Hale Haven)
3 Plums (Italian, Beauty, Santa Rosa)
2 Apples (Enterprise and Liberty)
Rosemary (Trailing and BBQ)
Mint (Chocolate and Peppermint)
Knock Out Roses
Flower Carpet Roses
Daylilies (5 kinds)
Salvia (2 kinds)
Bridal Wreath Spirea
Eunymous, burning bush
Crape myrtle (3 kinds)
Bean, Purple Pod
Bean, Golden Wax
Bean, Rattlesnake Pole
Bean, Old Kentucky Pole
Bean, Chinese Red Yard-Long
Tomato, 7 kinds
Pepper, 4 kinds
Sunflower, 2 kinds
Bull's Blood beets
Okra, Red Velvet
Zuchinni, 2 kinds
"Weeds" (some of which are edible):
Dwarf white clover
One aspect of biodiversity I am completely missing is animals. Right now, there's only humans, squirrels, several kinds of birds, and of course insects, living on our property. No chickens, honey bees, ducks, captive worms, rabbits, fish, etc. Nada. I think it would add a lot to our plan to have one or more of these animals here.
One of my problems is that I can't see us killing any chickens, ducks or rabbits for meat - I don't eat meat except for fish, although I don't rule it out in an unpredictable future. Animals definitely take time to care for, every day without fail. So it may be awhile before I am able to add animals to our urban home - but I'd like to do it in the next five years.
I would also like to expand my medicinal garden. Although I currently don't know how to use any of the herbs, it would be nice to have them available. I also plan to double the size of my vegetable garden - so I can have more tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, cantalopes, strawberries, and squash. I believe this is the year to accomplish that goal!