Archive for March, 2018

Thank you viewers from the Czech republic! Viewing my blog statistics recently has shown that viewers from your country have suddenly come up to be high up in the top 4 mostly viewed by country, I’m not sure why but I am grateful and hopeful that people in the Czech Republic are shifting consciousness and going back to nature and the land…

To say Thanks, here is a video of sustainable and nature friendly organic farming and farmland regeneration with Permaculturist / Farmer Petr Marada.

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Audio in Czech and sub-titles in English, Enjoy!

 

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Here is a nice little video on Permaculture as well as a Permablitz in action, being put into practice in Hawaii, at the  1:40min mark of the video where they are re-designing a back garden into a permaculture garden, I could not help but realise that one day perhaps, every garden in that little town / area would convert into the same or similar idea, ending with the entire town becoming one large permaculture site which merely has some houses and roads in-between the various food forests and vegetable gardens!

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Hawaii Permablitz Back-Garden Design

Imagine if a society like that could end up breaking down their garden walls to effectively remove what are real social and environmental barriers and upgrading their consciousness to the point of respect that no one should own any land and we are merely just temporary users of land – that we do need some small space to actually live on but we use the garden/s for growing and therapeutic reasons. Creating in effect, a large wildlife friendly human oasis similar in concept to the ‘green belts’ which some cities have

-Jeff Permie ( Growinagrden.wordpress.com )

At the 3:22 min mark, Paul explains the difference between consuming your own home grown Organic food and the taste you can sense if you should happen to go back to eating or consuming store / generally available factory or monoculture farmed foods.

At 5:00 min’s you get the full tour of his back garden and the design which has a beehive, banana trees, fig, limes, vegetables (chard, beets, rocket and salads), Sweet Potato, Tumeric and ginger to name a few.

In the context of special interests and corporate interests that are looking to control our food supply, this is again a very simple answer, if we start to shift from being consumers with rights towards being producers with responsibilities … then we actually take back our power.

– Matt

Whilst most people who may have heard the term or read something about Permaculture, link it to Growing Food / Sustainable Farming methods, Permaculture Design itself can be used in many aspects including town planning,  right up to Large City Design and no, I’m not exaggerating at all!

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Destroyed Buildings in Marawi City, Philippines

Personally my opinion on the future and implementation of Permaculture Design in Urban areas will lie in the developing world, whilst I strongly know that there are many talented and enthusiastic individuals in the so called ”first world” countries, it is in my opinion that this is where the most red tape and corporate dictated bureaucracy will be experienced.

The city of Marawi in Mindanao Southern Philippines was the victim of a 5+ month conflict between Local terrorist groups and Government forces, which ended around October 2017. Most people worldwide saw the news on mainstream media and alternative / social media (due to the fact that both groups decided to pledge allegiance to ISIS) , I personally was quite shocked when image searching for the city after the conflict was over, it is almost reminiscent to video footage of Syria! (Syria and the Philippines have one distinct thing in common, the west are not very fond of the two leaders Bashar al Assad and Rodrigo Duterte – in other words, the recent conflicts in both countries are merely ……. coincidences)

Events like this, although being horrific in nature both for the local population and also the environment should be taken advantage of, a partially destroyed infrastructure can be repaired using locally sourced, sustainable materials instead of resource wasting and polluting materials such as concrete and so forth! Whilst rebuilding and construction is taking place, the machinery available can be used to install low cost and cost saving functions / technology such as solar and wind power systems on larger buildings, the possibilities are endless! With China becoming a dominant regional power and the Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte leaning away from US control to a Russian / Chinese friendship, this could see the Philippines entering trade agreements which could highly benefit the rebuilding of the area and future projects in the country, China (more…)

The concept of Hugelkultur (Hugel Mound Growing) can basically be described as a self-composting bed or planting area (in the case of this article, in large pots). The gardener digs a shallow trench or pit and places logs, branches, sticks, twigs, brown leaves, nitrogen rich greens and or fresh manure, then tops these materials with the dug out earth and finally a decent layer of compost.

A good Hugel with large thick logs can be self-composting for anything up to 10 years. Read previous articles on traditional Hugels here Article 1 and Article 2.

Just the other day I realised that I can re-create the Hugel system but in large plastic planter pots, this will give you the benefit of Hugelkulturs without having to strain your back doing loads of digging!

Anyone taking on an uncultivated or fallow piece of land such as a disused Allotment Plot can always Sheet / Lasagna mulch a section, cover the result with thick impermeable black plastic sheet to kill off the perennial weeds and simply place Hugel Pots on top to ensure the land is still productive. Once you need to remove the sheet after a year and start using the ground space for planting, you can simply knock over the pots and empty the goodness to build up the humus / top layer!

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Hugelkultur Mound in Planter Pots

The general rule in terms of what can be grown on the Hugel Mound in year 1, are shallow rooted crops / plants such as various lettuces. Thereafter you can grow plants that require more nutrients and moisture and then finally on year 3  you can pretty much grow anything from Tomatoes to Pumpkins.

In the terms of the Hugel in a large pot, you can start the bottom layer either with composted or semi-composted wood chips (skip them and use soil if you have Slug / Snail problems), place a decent layer of soil (especially soil you wish to amend) on top of the latter with the Branch, Sticks, Twigs and cardboard / leaves as the carbon layer.

Follow on top with vegetables, fruit scraps, cut grass or fresh manure and then go on to adding the thick layer of soil / compost for growing in

(refer to image for general idea on layers, there are no specific rules but rather guidelines to follow) such as:

  1. Wood and wood chip need Nitrogen to break down, the plants you intend to grow need nitrogen too, the wood will suck this out of the soil and this is why we add manure or nitrogen rich fresh greens like veggie scraps and grass clippings / garden prunings, therefore, try to add as much green / manure / nitrogen rich material the more wood you have – greens decompose much quicker so stuff a lot in there.
  2. Compose the larger wood at the bottom and build up with smaller pieces until you reach brown leaves and cardboard this should ensure nice air spaces between are protected from being filled in by settling materials, these air spaces are important to ensure that the process does not become anaerobic – you could even start the logs on top of a 3-5cm thick layer of fresh grass clippings although this is not imperative.
  3. Intending on using this pot every year for the same purpose and do not intend on emptying it for a few years? then this is the time that you can use much thicker logs and branches in the bottom, if you want to empty the contents regularly (every 1 – 2 seasons) then it would be more beneficial to use thinner branches and sticks instead.
  4. Shallow rooted crops are mostly recommended in the first year however, you could easily use root crops such as carrots and parsnips provided you have a deeper layer of top soil / compost, remember that carrots and parsnips need nicely sieved compost / soil to prevent roots from ”forking”

I have written some previous posts about growing Shiitake mushrooms on logs and this year I am making it a personal goal / mission to get more than one species of mushroom as well as more than one type of wood species. I realised that the best approach is to have a few options and different wood types so that you get fruit harvest in different stages as well as the possibility of quicker colonisation.

Below is a wood type to mushroom species reference chart so you can decide what to grow depending on available wood type.

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As you can see, Oak is the preferred log due to the amount of species that it can be inoculated with however, here in the UK Oak are a preferred species and are often protected with TPO’s (Tree Protection Orders) mainly due to their benefit to wildlife and as habitat. Another consideration is also what ‘Plug Spawn’ you can get your hands on, it’s all nice to see what can be grown using the above chart but you may not be able to locate a seller who has all of these varieties and you may even have to purchase from a number of different suppliers.

 

Growing Mushrooms on Logs – In A Nutshell

As short as possible, you get hold of recently cut / felled logs (tree surgeons are the obvious choice to contact as they are happy to get rid of logs for free – they usually have to pay to dump woodchip). Try find out how long it has been since the logs were felled, try to have your spawn arrive or be available for use no longer than 5-6 seeks after they were cut. (Mushroom Dowels or Spores can be stored in the fridge for a period of time depending on your appliance temperatures etc, generally most suppliers recommend no more than 2 weeks)

You drill holes in a diamond formation around your logs and hammer in pre-inoculated sterilised wooden dowels into these holes and seal with how wax (there are special waxes for this). The best method for keeping logs moist came to me from one of Sepp Holzers’ books (either ‘Holzer’s Permaculture’ or ‘Desert or Paradise’) – you merely pay attention to where the top of the wood is and what was / is the bottom, so before chopping make markings pointing up representing the top. You will plant the inoculated logs into the soil (up end up) to a certain depth and the log itself should naturally draw up moisture from the soil, otherwise if you forget for a short time to moisten the logs, you could kill the mycelium inside the log and everything would be a waste of time and effort.

More detailed information on the process will always be provided by the Dowel / Spore supplier, all you will need is a drill, hammer, place to wash the logs, place to do the drilling / innoculation and something to melt wax in and a brush, (some paintbrush bristles are actually made from plastic and will likely melt in the hot wax, get real horse hair brushes).

Within 1 year to 18 months, you should have full colonisation and the starting of regular fruiting, depending on log size, you could get fruit from each log for up to 8 or so years!!

The time to cut logs is before Spring so right now would not be the best time but if the logs are already cut (by a tree surgeon for instance) then you may as well use them (it’s best to avoid cutting trees in Spring due to the rising sap which causes excessive bleeding on Trees and Shrubs).

 

In a quest to try find out what happened to my childhood and to see if there are any alternatives for the future Generations, I stumbled upon something which I suspected existed but was not entirely sure how or what it would have even been labeled, let alone whether it would be clear from all too common government bureaucracy !

Well it does exist, mostly in Scandinavian countries but also across europe including Germany, Austria and is now being spread across the globe from Australia to the continental North America – even England is finally catching on (Although upon searching, there are quite a few listed individuals online but the ones anywhere remotely near my residence are only offering days-out sessions, it is not an actual school type Monday to Friday setting).

The Forest kindergarten is quite a popular theme and is growing in demand – 10% of all kindergartens in Denmark are Forest kindergartens, in this >12 minute quick documentary ”Kids Gone Wild” from an Australian media group (SBS Dateline), they visit a kindergarten in Denmark and get the chance to interview parents, the Pedagogue (teacher) as well as a teacher from a general primary school where kids from both normal kindergardens and forest kindergardens will converge to continue with their education.

Pedagogue: Only once I had to drive a boy to the Hospital with a big injury in 17 years, so I’m not worried,
Interviewer: And what was the injury?
Pedagogue: It was a parent who drove over the foot of a kid

Below some kids are having great fun building sculptures in the snow whilst being educated about famous Art:

 

Testimonials I have seen from people online discussing the difference between their own kid’s and friends or other family who went to forest schools / kindergartens is quite intriguing, the forest educated kids always want to be outside no matter the weather whilst the ‘normal’ kids seem to be more concerned with Television or other indoor technology such as tablets, smartphones or TV / Computer games which they spend countless hours on.

As a child who grew up in the eighties, I was there when the first TV gaming systems came out and subsequently get every console that came after due to a sibling being completely obsessed, however, we at least only spent a couple of hours at a time playing, we would then on our own accord, go outside to play. These days kids can spend up to 16 hours playing only stopping to rush to the toilet or boil a kettle to make unhealthy pot noodle soups!

For any of my UK followers or viewers who may want to see if there are any nearby, visit the Forest Kindergardten Association’s site.

As promised before and a common theme on my blog, (posting short interesting videos and tours of Permaculture Sites and Projects globally) I have found this Short Video of a really cool Permaculture project in San Marcos Sierras, Argentina, the Audio is both in English and Argentinian Spanish with a decent description from the interviewees of what the focus and aims of the community have.

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Shamballa Permaculture Project Argentina

The whole video is less than 7 minutes long and features Horses, beautiful gardens and a very beautiful house / dwelling.

Enjoy!