Category Archives: permaculture

Simple Living: Directing Rainfall, Eating Mallow Wheels & Making Shade

February – March 2014

Plants: Mallow, Sea Buckthorne, Sapodilla, Blackcurrant, Gooseberry.

Creatures: Utah the Doggle (a peculiar cross between a dog and a fraggle)

Simple Living: Pond Swirl Filter, Feeding Koi, Releasing Geckos, Using Rocks, Aquaponics

In this instalment, I work on improving the food pond by adding a DIY swirl filter made from a dustbin / trashcan and a simple gravel filter / growbed for kangkong, watercress and other plants that don’t mind being constantly flooded. There’s still room to expand with more beds in the future, as well as floating island planters. The medium for the growbed is volcanic rock gravel from my land. The swirl filter uses a modified laundry basket lid at the bottom, and although I forgot to show it in the video, there is a T connector at the end of the hose under the laundry basket lid to send the water in two diferent directions.

I also show off a quick bench I made out of a pallet, some uses for rocks including simple terracing, and I release some geckos into the house for pest control.

Simple Living: Food Pond Permaculture, Talking to a Tree Rat & Homemade Beehive

Putting my new camera to use around the homestead. My new pond should give me greens all year round, and when I have enough fish I’ll expand further into outdoor aquaponics & grow all kinds of fruit and veg in the water on floating foam rafts. If this experiment is a success, I plan to put more ponds between the trees in the orchard.

I made a path (hand-mixed concrete poured over a hacksawed rebar frame joined with wire) and new raised beds to go with it. Hopefully some of the visiting bees will take up residence in the very basic beehive I put together. It doesn’t have trays so harvesting of honey is a no-go, but bees need the honey they make to feed their young, so that’s just fine.

Mosquito fish are likely the best fish for hot climate aquaponics systems, especially if you’re not interested in eating the fish (tho they are edible if you’re so inclined). They can survive all kinds of calamities unfazed, don’t need a pump, breed like flies (they’re one of the few live-bearing fish), and even survive in a few cm of wet mud when the waterways here dry up in the summer. The ideal permaculture fish. Tho I’m trying other fish in the pond, I’ve kept mosquito fish most of my life and doubt anything can top them.

I sunk holed bricks and cages filled with stones in the pond to allow fry to hide. I also added some driftwood.

Simple Living: Hare Droppings, Papayas in Raised Beds & Wild Olive Tree Adventures

It’s December 25th. The tomatoes have completely overgrown their beds and are almost ready to be pulled, the celery is loving all the rain, and the sweet winter fruits are ripening. I find a surprising new source of free fertilizer right under my nose. Papayas I planted from seed just a few months ago are growing and flowering in their raised bed (compost over gravel).

I then venture into the wild looking for olive trees, and find plenty. Avoiding the ardent mushroom pickers down below, I also stumble onto an old abandoned olive grove on the mountainside.

Please excuse the poor video quality, the new phone I’ve been using is really not cutting it – Had to leave a lot of great stuff out because the video was too dark/grainy/motion blurred, making this a personally disappointing instalment. I’ll try to get another video device before continuing.

This is the companion video to the ‘making quick water cured olives’ vid I posted earlier today. I decided to separate them since most people looking for olive curing guides aren’t interested in the other stuff.

Simple Living: Wildflowers, Fruits and Errands of Spring

A compilation of clips taken between early March to late May. Mustard straw is cut and used as mulch, wild flowers such as rock rose and lavender are in bloom, the raised beds are hooped and shaded, and spring fruits bloom, fruit and ripen.

Some of the edibles featured in this video: Mizuna, Rocket / Aragula, Early Peaches, Loquats, Red Mulberries, Collard Greens, Pak Choi, Purslane, Cucumber, Medlar, Pears, Celery, Rainbow Chard, Sea Beets, White Mustard.

Some of the wildflowers: Spiny Broom, Iberian Milk Vetch, Dandelion, Star Thistle, Terebinth Blossom, Rock Rose, Lavender.

Simple Living: How to Build Raised Beds on Compacted Rock

This is how I make modest raised beds on a particulary rotten corner of my land that’s almost solid rock, using all kinds of free materials from the forest and beyond.

Simple Living: Picking Pomegranates in the Old Jungle Garden

It’s Pomegranate season again in my old Mediterranean jungle garden. It now thrives without any care. There are papayas, apricots, dates, pomegranates and grapes growing alongside wild and planted trees, herbs and shrubs that self-mulch the ground and feed the fruit-bearers for me. There are even self-seeded young pomegranate trees under the canopy that have never been watered or fed even once. Mulch can really do wonders.

The many date palms volunteered from seeds I spat out randomly years ago. They should be making their first crop next year.

It’s somewhat of a guerrilla garden since I don’t own the land it’s on. It was a vacant lot no one was using behind my parent’s house, that I decided to experiment with.

Initially the lot was covered with towering tumbleweeds on compacted and extremely saline soil, with big chunks of concrete and rebar sticking out of it. It’s unrecognizable today.

There’s an aviary hanging into the garden, and the bird manure falls into the garden, supplying even more nutrients.

Note that this video was made in early October.

Simple Living: A Stroll in the Forest, Foraging Mastic, Carob & Strawberry Tree Fruit

I experiment with using cardboard boxes as mulch in the orchard and touch on some frugal uses for September’s gifts from the forest: leaf mould compost to start seeds, and moss for rooting cuttings.

I also sample a hearty selection of wild Autumn fruits as I wander the woods. I even come across some tree-cured olives still hanging on their trees many months after ripening.

I stumble onto a strawberry tree that has ripe fruit already; an astounding mutation considering that all the other strawberry trees I’ve seen won’t ripen their fruits until December-January. Just another example of the diversity apparent in wild seedling trees.

Finally, I happen onto another naturally-occurring edible tree guild, and before I head back to the cabin, I take a look at four ancient olive trees that were planted in the same hole. Truly the epitome of efficiency.

Wild plants featured in this instalment:

Golden Oak Tree “Quercus alnifolia” – (Acorns edible after leeching)
Mastic Tree “Pistacia lentiscus” (Edible berries & gum)
Strawberry Tree “Arbutus adrachne” (Edible berries)
Olive Tree “Olea europaea” (Edible after processing)
Sicilian Sumac / Sumach “Rhus Coriaria” (Edible / Drinkable)
Carob Tree “Ceratonia siliqua” (Edible pods)