Permaculture Principle #3 - Obtain a Yield

Image courtesy of Nick115

The Why

Yield is what motivates and keeps us connected to our work in a meaningful way. In its most basic sense, it is about seeing results. Under this principle, a well-designed system will obtain the maximum yield in the smallest amount of space for the least amount of effort.

Self-Sufficiency & Low Maintenance

A fantastic way to recognize real tangible yields and keep you on the road to self-sufficiency is growing your own food. Composting, companion planting, and natural pest control can produce more food on less land. It has the added advantage of building soil fertility faster and requires a fraction of the water and fertilizer that a traditional garden does. 

Image courtesy of Jane Lund

This design principle highlights the importance of a low-maintenance system. Selecting plants that support each other and promote healthy soil is important but if they require daily maintenance they won't fare well in the effort/yield ratio, less effort is an indication of a well-designed system.

Garden Example

Companion or guild planting is taking advantage of the synergistic elements naturally occurring in plants.  The properties within each plant seek out and interact with the properties of other compatible plants so that they mutually maximize their chances for optimum health.

One of the best know examples of companion planting is what is known as the Three Sisters, corn, squash, and beans. I remember in grade school learning about how Native American Indians used this technique to grow resilient crops.  As with many of the concepts in permaculture, Three Sisters is an old technique, it’s about remembering what we already know.

Image courtesy Steven Weeks

Image courtesy Brigitte Tohm

Image courtesy 4639459Pixaby

How do the three benefit each other to optimize their yields?  Beans are nitrogen fixers, whose roots are inhabited by specific Rhizobium bacteria that pull nitrogen from the air and transform it into a form the plant can utilize for growth, hence “nitrogen fixing.”  This nitrogen enriches the soil and becomes available to other plants as well.

Corn has shallow roots that spread quickly and widely but provide the ideal natural climbing pole for the beans.   

Squash is a plant that loves to spread out as it grows. As it spreads out, its leaves become natural umbrellas blocking out sunlight to the weeds below and prolonging moisture in the soil. 

Together they contain complex carbohydrates, essential fatty acids, and all eight essential amino acids necessary for a healthy diet.

Money Example

How do we obtain a yield from our money?  We have captured and stored our money in an account and now via the wonders of compound interest, we can harvest a yield from our deposits.  The higher the interest rate the higher the yield.  The longer the deposit is stored and if the interest rate remains stable that important yield will continue to grow.’s definition of compound interest is as follows;

“Interest calculated on the initial principal and on the accumulated interest of previous periods of a deposit or loan. Compound interest can be thought of as “interest on interest,” and will make a deposit or loan grow at a faster rate than simple interest, which is interest calculated only on the principal amount.”

To instill the importance of saving money a simple example of compound interest often given is the power of one cent doubling every day for 30 days. It’s real (as real as money) and it works.  The chart below illustrates this with a staggering total of over five million bucks! 

Not to be overly simplistic but the answer to the question as to whether you are receiving a yield from your investments/saving plan is self-evident by looking at the bottom line.  If you save and invest smartly you will obtain the yield you deserve but it takes discipline, staying financially literate, and asking a lot of questions so you learn how to maximize your yield.

I encourage you, if you don’t already, to find a source or sources you like, trust and understand, then follow their advice so you can realize the highest financial yield possible.  

A source that I used to help me achieve financial freedom and a book I highly recommend is Your Money: The Missing Manual. It's realistic, easy to understand, and has straightforward step-by-step instructions on how to implement its ideas. 


Health Example

Food is medicine. The yield gleaned from a proper diet and regular exercise includes increased health and improved mental functioning.  A healthy regime keeps serotonin levels balanced and your mind sharp. It combats heart disease, and stroke and lowers high blood pressure and cholesterol. It also reduces the effects of diabetes, depression, certain types of cancer, and arthritis.

Image courtesy of Maciej Cieslake

Additionally, it boosts your energy which helps deliver oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and gets your cardiovascular system working more efficiently. Finally, it improves sleep giving you renewed vitality and extending longevity.

I could get even more granular describing the benefits of eating clean and exercising regularly but undoubtedly you get the point. We can make a much bigger impact when we are clear-minded, physically fit, and emotionally rested.  Unstoppable.

 It all comes back to the theme of asking yourself a few simple questions like;

  • Is this activity bringing me closer or further away from my goal(s)?
  • Is this action going to compound me away from living in peak condition?
  • Will this activity help me to be a better person or weaken me?
  • How can I improve the gift of self-care I give myself?
  • Is this habit that I repeat stopping me from experiencing the maximum yield possible?

Where Else?

Ok, so this is another principle that on the surface seems simple, which it is, but how well are you obtaining a yield?


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