Wednesday, 25 November 2015

The impermanence of a Permaculturist

This year, 2015, has been a year with plenty of life changes.

Earlier in the year, I left Iceland, and the 4 year Icelandic Permaculture project I was developing at the Sólheimar intentional community. The two food forests I had there, were left behind, mostly to nature, without a caretaker. Some species were moved to a friend's property, a permaculture devotee, located in south Iceland, that was also starting a food forest.

Permaculture garden, located in Sólheimar, Iceland (2014)

In spring, I eagerly started a new project - the Permaculture Food Forest at Vale do Carvalho, in Mortágua, central Portugal. I was excited!

Food forest project, located in Mortágua, central Portugal (2015)

The project was going well for the first months, and quickly reached a staggering number of planted edible species of 230, in a short period of time! I worked there full-time and had a large collection of fruit trees, and other permaculture perennial vegetables, besides the common annual vegetables, including grains, millets, amaranths and quinoas, many types of beans and salads, medicinal herbs, Andean root crops, flowers, nuts, etc

In June however, I had a breakup with my partner. I had to abandon the new project, as it was located in my ex's family property. The project only lasted 4 months! Again, it was left to nature, as no one would take care of it in the times to follow.

I moved (again) many species to a friend's property - that lives south of Porto - and there we quickly started together a new food forest project, that already reached a total of 100 species. We call it the Food Forest of Paulo and Benjamim.

The start of a new food forest project, south of Porto, Portugal (2015)

During the summer, my motivation was mostly to travel. I was tired of such dramatic changes. I began searching for a place where I could settle down, buy some land, and meet like-minded people.

As of now, the abovementioned 3 food forests projects remain in spot, but only the last one, has the care of a friend. In the months ahead, I will travel to explore permaculture and community projects worldwide.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Permaculture workshop in Vienna, Austria

Last weekend, the Friday 13th November, I did a permaculture workshop for a group of people, located in a new cohousing project, in Vienna, Austria.

The workshop was named "PermaCityCulture"

The workshop flyer...

As a small group of enthusiastic gardeners gathered, I was enthusiastic to talk on how to do permaculture in the city, from urban balconies to raised beds in outdoors gardens.

The workshop started outdoors, in a quite philosophical manner...

 I talked about how to build good soil, in the raised beds of their cohousing project

For about an hour, I talked on using good principles of Permaculture, such as observing and inspiring ourselves from nature, be it in keeping the soil always with a green cover, or growing perennials, as a source of food.
Talking about comfrey, borage and nettles, as soil builders
Afterwards, the evening came, and we all continued with a presentation and a round talk indoors, with a beautiful view over the skyline of Vienna, in a cozy library room.

Vienna, Austria. 
In the end, we all had a good time, and I was offered a delicious dinner!

Sunday, 8 March 2015

An edible food forest in Portugal - "Benjamim garden"

Over the past few months, changed have happened, and I have left the life I had in Iceland and moved back to Portugal.

Much warmer climate, much better possibilities to grow my own food smile emoticon

Five days of work and we have created our swale, raised bed, with about 30 species of edible plants, some aromatic or medicinal, many of them perennial, some are nitrogen fixing trees, some are less known edible roots, plus some species in risk of extinction (part of our conservation work, part of our food forest). Abundance and sustainability!
  • medicinals like angelica, valerian, marshmallow, burdock, comfrey and berberis
  • aromatics like scots lovage, wormwood, wild garlic and calamus root
  • annuals like miners lettuce, siberian kale, chioggia beets, durum wheat and quinoa
  • permaculture trees like leucaena, honey locust, eleagnus, casuarina, date palm or princess tree,
  • endangered species like jubaea chilensis, clianthus puniceus and dendroseris litoralis, 
  • edible perennials like good king henry, yacon, chinese artichokes, skirret, perennial rye and perennial leeks.

Swale and raised bed. Many edible species planted. An edge of garlic and wormwood will deter any pests. Comfrey nearby. Also many nitrogen fixing species. Perennials like good king henry, chinese artichokes, yacon, perennial leeks and perennial rye. Medicinal herbs too. Hopefully abundance will follow

Happy smiles after half of this bed/swale completed. More to follow smile emo
If you are iterested in buying some of my seeds, please go to :)

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Pest repellent plants


Several plants are known to repel moles. Daffodils, frittalary, scilla flowers, castor bean, garlics, and caper spurge.

To deter mice: peppermint, perennial sweet peas, muscaris, and again daffodils and scillas. Also wormwood and garlics.

To deter cats, besides laying barriers with thorny sticks, rue is a good herbal option. For deer, russian sage is said to repel them, but nothing is as effective as tall fences. For rabbits, garlics and mexican marigolds. For racoons, try placing cucumber near corn, but best is to use old nets or thorny shrubs. For squirrels, frittilary seems to work.


For brassica clubroot: your soil is probably wet and anaerobic, hence acidic. Correct pH to 7.2 or higher, add calcium. Build hugelbeds to attract fungi that controls clubroot.

For tomato and cucurbit mildew, have plants in well-composted beds near swales, to have plants very healthy and non-stressed. Keep good ventillation and avoid damp conditions. Avoid lack of calcium. For strawberries, grow alpine varieties.

For cabbage worm, plant borage nearby. Cabbage maggot is repelled by thyme. Cabbage looper (caused by larvae of a butterfly) is repelled by catnip, dill and garlic, hyssop and mint, nasturtium. Cabbage white butterfly is also repelled by tansy, wormwood in addition to many of the others. Wormwood is an excellent companion for cabbages. As are garlics, tansy and thyme.

Slugs. Plant fennel nearby.

Carrot fly is repelled by garlic family, chives for example.

For mosquitoes, plant lantana, citronella, lavender and basil. Have ducks or fish in the standing water.

To repel moths: wormwood, lavender and spearmint,

Some herbs deter really many pests! Examples include wormwood, chrysanthemus, dill and garlic, but also mint, nasturtium, thyme, and tansy.

Spider mites are said to be repelled by coriander and dill. Neem is definitively an excellent repellent. This pest appears when plants are stressed; give them the best conditions! Ventillation, air moisture and good plant health are essential.

Aphids are repelled by chives and garlic, fennel and mints, nasturtiums. Wind and washing plants also work.

In SUMMARY, a fence of garlics, frittilary and daffodils, wormwood and thyme. Fennel for slugs. Lavender for moths and mosquitoes. Possibly tansy, dill, borage and mints.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

A new food forest in Portugal...

In January I moved from 4 years in Iceland, back to Portugal.

A new start for my permaculture dreams!

It's March, a beautiful spring sun, full moon, and together with Benjamim Fontes we are making on countour a raised bed and swale, and so far we planted out 30 species part of our future "forest garden".

We included medicinals like angelica, valerian, marshmallow, burdock, comfrey and berberis, aromatics like scots lovage, wormwood, wild garlic and calamus root, annuals like miners lettuce, siberian kale, chioggia beets, durum wheat and quinoa, permaculture trees like leucaena, honey locust, eleagnus, casuarina, date palm or princess tree, endangered species like jubaea chilensis, clianthus puniceus and dendroseris litoralis, and edible perennials like good king henry, yacon, chinese artichokes, skirret, perennial rye and perennial leeks.

Pics to follow in soon.

A glimpse of our "food forest" in progress

In the next weeks, I will also hopefully join other people to start similar projects. Next food forest will be started with Pami Sami in central Portugal, this month. It has a lot to do with experimentation towards creating exciting permanent food sustainability, ecological care and lots of fun, on practice.

Whoever is interested, please let me know so we start similar projects.