February, A Tree a Day

I’ve been given gifts of trees. Cherry, French Oak, Italian Stone Pine, Chestnut, and more. I have over 50 plants to plant right now, some of them include …

Acer Pseudoplatanus (Sycamore)

Acer pseudoplatanus is a deciduous Tree growing to 30 m (98ft) by 15 m (49ft) at a fast rate. It is hardy to zone 5. It is in flower from April to June, and the seeds ripen from Sep to October. The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and are pollinated by Bees.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, requires well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay and nutritionally poor soils.The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade.It requires moist soil. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.

Betula Celtiberica – Pubescens (White Birch)

Betula pubescens is a deciduous Tree growing to 20 m (65ft) by 10 m (32ft) at a fast rate. It is hardy to zone 1. It is in flower in April, and the seeds ripen from Aug to September. The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and are pollinated by Wind.It is noted for attracting wildlife.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay and nutritionally poor soils.The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. and can grow in very acid soils. It cannot grow in the shade.It requires dry moist or wet soil. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure. 

Cercis Siliquastrum (Judas Tree)

Cercis siliquastrum is a deciduous Tree growing to 12 m (39ft) by 10 m (32ft) at a medium rate. It is hardy to zone 6 and is not frost tender. It is in flower in May, and the seeds ripen in September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.It can fix Nitrogen. It is noted for attracting wildlife.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, requires well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil.The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. and can grow in very alkaline soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade.It requires dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.

Hibiscus Syriacus (Lady Stanley – Rose of Sharon)

Hibiscus syriacus is a deciduous Shrub growing to 3 m (9ft) by 2 m (6ft) at a medium rate. It is hardy to zone 5. It is in flower in September, and the seeds ripen in October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and requires well-drained soil.The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils..It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist soil.

Liquidambar Styraciflua (Sweet Gum)

Liquidambar styraciflua is a deciduous Tree growing to 25m (82ft) by 15m (49ft) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone 5 and is not frost tender. It is in flower in May, and the seeds ripen from Oct to November. The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and are pollinated by Bees.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and requires well-drained soil.The plant prefers acid and neutral soils.It cannot grow in the shade. It requires moist soil.

Prunus Lusitanica (Portugal Laurel)

Prunus lusitanica is an evergreen Shrub growing to 6 m (19ft) by 6 m (19ft). It is hardy to zone 7. It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower in June. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and requires well-drained soil.The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. and can grow in very alkaline soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist soil.

I’m digging large holes, atleast 1/2 metre wide and deep and filling with mulch and soil to give them a good start.. My strategy is clearing a pathway along which I will later walk along, first as a watering route and then later as a shaded access route to a particular point. This involves firstly finding a suitable location for each particular plant, then clearing work, for the path and then around the tree. The cleared shrub is used to mulch in to the hole and also around the plant for ground cover. If I can manage 1 tree a day then it will be a good day. Today I planted 3 trees, a good day indeed. It included a chestnut of
forgiveness planted in the front yard of the mare’s house, An Italian
Stone Pine below the cactus garden and a Serra de Estrella Cherry Tree
along the first terrace below the drive.

Update 07 Feb 2012

I have been working like a madman clearing, digging, mulching, planting and watering. I have managed around 12 plants a day, but this is exhausting work and not sure I can keep it up at this pace.

Update 18 May 2012.

A few months later. Happy in their new settings …

Betula Celtiberica – Pubescens (White Birch)
Acer Pseudoplatanus (Sycamore)
Liquidambar Styraciflua (Sweet Gum)

Attracting animal manure

It seems like a good thing to plant leafy green vegetables next to the newly planted fruit trees. Well, atleast I think it’s that. Perhaps it’s just the hay? It seems to attract the rabbits and they do their droppings in there. If they are eating the greens in there then it’s two positives. One, that it helps with the animals adding their manure around the tree and two it keeps them out of the real vegie garden.

A prayer for 2012

For 2012 I say a prayer. A call for help.

I say a prayer, because I must admit, I fear.

I fear where the world is going right now. It touches me deeply, it’s very deep and sad.
I fear for the future of where so called ‘leaders’ are taking things (economically and otherwise) without giving respects to the wishes nor responses of it’s own people and nor the people of the world.
I fear for the power of the people and how if not recognised and given value to it’s true creative potential then it could unleash itself violently.
But the biggest fear that I feel is that which comes from those who are hiding, and in this present case we are talking about the hiding behind lies.
Each of us has great fear that we all have to face from time to time, and from my own experience I can not say that I am in control of when my fear arises, but what I can see, is that I can acknowledge it, give it light, and carry on in spite of it. Sometimes I recognise it to have value. Sometimes my anger, fired by a witnessed injustice will not let fear stand in it’s way, and sometimes, perhaps even this scares me, but this thinking in terms of ‘survival’, not from heart, it’s playing politics with the heart, and the heart does not like politics.

So my prayer is that

I wish that the awakening will bring a creative response, driven by the heart, with an intention to heal. To heal a relationship with our global mother. Mother Earth.

I wish that we can become honest with each other, regardless of our fears. Healing the relationship of Trust.

I wish that we can recognise our place in nature. But we will not recognise this until we have arrived so what I wish is that people seek their place. Not only in nature, but also in their life, by asking the question, What is my purpose here and what gifts, passions and visions must I pursue in order to lead me to an understanding of this?

I wish that we can be singing in the sun in the summer of 2013.

I wish that my prayer makes sense to people.

Blessed 2012,

Post Xmas

A couple of new friends …

Chema, the lion …

… atleast I try and convince him that he is a lion. He needs all the encouragement he can get. He’s getting far too used to warm and cosy livin’ when he should be getting out there and exploring the small forests, that will one day be jungle. Truthfully though I do wonder how the natural habitat will be affected by his presence. He’s far too thick to even notice mice most of the time, but to give him credit, when he first got here he did spot one quickly and then lost sight of it as it went into the grass. Funnily enough I could see the little mouse. I could see his two eyes looking straight at me saying ‘Please don’t tell him that you can see me!’. So I didn’t.

And Mr Grosshopper, I think he called himself Gary, came by to say hello. An interesting fellow, had much to say. Said he’d earned his stripes …

He was on his way down to the little creek that has started flowing from a few weeks back (the video is not very good quality me thinks) …

A foto shows things nicely too …

This means that there is plenty of water in winter time to fill up quite a few retention spaces.

In the mean time I’m working on the barn yard where I’m building some swales. I’m considering planting some kinds of fruit producing shrubs or bushes there that will work well with the chickens that will be using this as their living space also, perhaps Goji berry? Anyway, this is where I’m at so far …

You can see how moist the soil is, which is the way it’s been since November, which is good, because the summer was DRY. I’ll be filling the ditch with clippings and mulch. Those two humps in the middle are boulders 🙂 It’s not that deep the soil, but generally it’s very good, and I will be building this up higher with mulches anyway. I’ll put follow up photos later in another post regarding this.

ReOccupy Portugal

I have seen a possibility here and a lot of factors that work in favor of this possibility, so it has motivated me to start working on this idea.

It’s about collaboratively re-occupying and regenerating abandoned rural land, starting here in Portugal. Since I know of no other cases of this here in Portugal I will be starting with my own land as a lead case study,  lead example or pilot project for lack of any better term. I am currently in the process of investigating this further but let me explain the idea …

The idea is based on identifying large areas of land where ‘rural abandonment’ has occurred and where each of the seperate pieces of land within this area can be occupied (via purchase or some kind of exchange agreement) by individuals, partners or groups for the intention and purpose of ‘earth regeneration’. By earth regeneration what I mean is the reforestation / regeneration of land using Permaculture Principles (principles derived from observing nature) to create balanced, diverse and resilient eco-systems capable of supporting productive, sustainable agriculture and as a consequence promote a sustainable localised economy for the incumbent and surrounding community.

The idea would be that each piece of land remains autonomous and that the owners / occupiers (I would like to call them ‘Earth Neighbours’ since it is in tune with the idea I’m trying to convey) would be responsible for the regeneration of their own piece of land (and of course, they would be free and encouraged to collaborate with the regeneration of their neighbour’s land also). Each of these pieces of land would then form the greater area; a kind of Permaculture Community Conservation Park. I refer to it as such because it would be my hope that ultimately these areas could be recognised as sanctuaries (protected areas) for wildlife and biodiversity and therefore worthy of conservation (and conversation – dialogue, etc). Of course that would responsibility would always lie in the hands of it’s custodians.

Obviously there are many things to think about. Right now though it is a simple intention and an invitation for any who wish to express their interest in participating in a co-creative experiment (or perhaps create your own?). One in which we can migrate away from, and also to open the
possibility for others to migrate away from, the current ‘machine mind’ and ‘centrally controlled’ culture that is going through it’s disintegration and work towards the possibility of humans of like spirit cooperating and working together towards effectively regenerating Mother Earth back to a state of health, one peace at a time.

So to draw an analogy, imagine a jigsaw puzzle which is the larger area of land (which could potentially become a Permaculture Community Conservation Park) and each of the pieces of individual land within this defined area being the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle. We, the ‘Earth Neighbours’, would be helping to put it all together and then eventually connecting with other surrounding communities that would be doing the same thing (I would like to write more about this greater network but will write something later to express in my view what this would be like, but if you can imagine how the world wide web works – or even better, a mycelial network, then it might give some insight). We’ve already developed it into the World Wide Web so now we just need to implement it with respects to our communities. This could be a great opportunity to experiment with this. The truth is we don’t have much to lose. We just need to start living it.

How did this idea come to be?

I have purchased a piece of land very close to the Serra da Estrela region in Central Portugal. What once was part of Lusitania (means ‘the land of light’). Also the home of another dying breed, the shepherds of Serra da Estrela). Around me I see old pasture land, that has been abandoned, some of it for a long time. The old folks who used to work the land as conventional farmers have now either retired, left the area or passed on and left the land to their heirs whom have no interest in farming. Many of the old farmers I have spoken with express sadness in seeing how land has been left abandoned. The piece of land that I have purchased for example, had been abandoned for around 20-25 years. Most of the lands have buildings / ruins on them, some of them closer to a more habitable state than others and many have wells which seem to have plentiful water. The land is rolling hillside and has great views overlooking the Serra da Estrella on one side and expansive views towards looking towards the Caramulo Ranges along the other side.

When I look out I imagine seeing these hills covered in forests.

The vision came from an idea passed onto me by my friend Leonardo. I have held this vision, or should I say this vision has held me for some time and it has not left me, so I must investigate the possibilities of it and see for myself the possibilities of this. A large part of my motivation for attempting this comes from seeing the deforestation that exists around here as a result of conventional agriculture and fires. I am also motivated by the fact that every day we are deforesting so much of our planet, wanting to make a change and knowing that I can only start where I am now, and that is here.

I see many challenges here also, one of which being that the threat of fire seems to be getting greater here. Usually they are man made. The one underlying cause that connects all these incidences together is tied to ignorance. I will go no further than explaining it that way in order to keep it short and simple. What I believe is required is that a greater awareness be applied to this issue so that awakening can happen in respects to the value of our environment and the consequences of it’s mistreatment. What this means to me is that if there are more people in an area who carry a more conscious vision and attitude towards the environment then this will change others in the area also. It is like inspiration. If we are capable of being inspired by others, then surely we are also capable of inspiring others (by following our inspiration).

Let’s take a little break and be served with some inspiration:

What could be?

I see lots of potential here for a regeneration project such as the one I’ve been describing. Although a lot of the land around me has suffered much fire damage and is left abandoned, I have visions of it being converted into a lush forest and believe that with the co-operation of others this can be achieved. Sustainable Agro Forestry that could re-invigorate the area with bio-diverse life and bring with it the opportunity to create a new economy based on local community values. Something that I believe is much needed at this present moment in time. It could also serve as an example and opportunity to others in Portugal who wish to do the same thing.

The first steps …

So, the idea is grand, but it starts with the first step which is what I’m currently working on; to find out who the owners of each of the surrounding properties are and see if they are all open to selling at prices that would be affordable to those who would wish to join this ‘intentional land sharing and reforestation project’. Even if they are not willing to sell then I will investigate other possibilities with regards to agreements that can be made to allow occupation by fellow ‘Earth Neighbours’.

If I see positive signs then I will look at dedicating a web site to the idea and share the information in a more detailed format. Also to publicise descriptions and photos of the lands that will be available relevant to this area. Then it will be a matter of seeing what interest there is for this and see what kind of intentioned individuals and groups it attracts. If the web site is successful then I guess it can also be used to inspire and facilitate other parties who wish to try the same thing in their area.

Is it an idea that will be welcomed by Portugal?

We will soon find out. If more of these intentional projects can arise across Portugal then perhaps we could see the beginning of a much needed revolution? People coming full circle, going back to the land, reforesting and regenerating the earth and bringing with it a new, sustainable economy based on respecting the values of Gaia. Then we can allow the old structures (economic and otherwise) to fall gracefully rather than with panic and confusion. I fear though that there isn’t alot of time so if you like the idea then I would invite collaboration.

Do you like the idea?

I like the idea and I believe it’s possible. Of course I’m a dreamer. If you like the idea or are inspired by this vision then I invite you to feed back, comment, share whatever ideas you have that could help take this one step closer to becoming a reality.

Treasure is stored in the ruined places. Rumi

Update 11 February 2012
Yay! Article Published on Permaculture News

Update 7 April 2013
1st phase of Earth Neighbours web site live: http://www.earth-neighbours.com

Update 1 June 2013
2nd phase of Earth Neighbours web site live: http://www.earth-neighbours.com. Woooohoooooo!!!

Update 1st September 2015
Blog article clarifying some things about What is Earth Neighbours?

What is Permaculture?

The word “Permaculture” was coined in 1978 by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren. It was originally a contraction of “permanent agriculture” but is often now explained as relating to “permanent culture.” Permaculture is an Australian invention but has now spread all around the world.

There are so many definitions for Permaculture. Every time I am asked what it is I have to think about it and often come out with a different way of explaining it. I’ve looked around on the web for different ways of describing what it is so that it can be clearly understood by people who don’t know what it is …

‘Permaculture is an ecological design system for sustainability which encompasses all aspects of human endeavour. The philosophy of permaculture is one of working with rather than against nature. It emphasizes protracted and thoughtful observation rather than premature and thoughtless action. Permaculture design techniques encourage ecologically sound land use and apply lessons from nature. The system teaches us to create settings and construct systems which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. Permaculture is a way of looking at life and living which incorporates traditional practices with the benefits of modern technology. It creates harmonious relationships between people and the natural environment. Permaculture teaches us how build natural homes, grow our own food, catch rainwater, dispose of waste responsibly, build socially viable communities, restore diminished landscapes and ecosystems, and much more.’

Another definition from Wikipedia

Permaculture is an approach to designing human settlements and agricultural systems that is modeled on the relationships found in nature. It is based on the ecology of how things interrelate rather than on the strictly biological concerns that form the foundation of modern agriculture. Permaculture aims to create stable, productive systems that provide for human needs; it’s a system of design where each element supports and feeds other elements, ultimately aiming at systems that are virtually self-sustaining and into which humans fit as an integral part.

Permaculture as a systematic method was developed by Australians Bill Mollison and David Holmgren during the 1970s. The word ‘permaculture’ originally referred to ‘permanent agriculture’, but was expanded to also stand for ‘permanent culture’ as it was seen that social aspects were integral to a truly sustainable system. Mollison has described permaculture as ‘a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless labor; and of looking at plants and animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single project system.’ [1]

Permaculture draws from several other disciplines including organic farming, agroforestry, sustainable development, and applied ecology. ‘The primary agenda of the movement has been to assist people to become more self reliant through the design and development of productive and sustainable gardens and farms. The design principles which are the conceptual foundation of permaculture were derived from the science of systems ecology and study of pre-industrial examples of sustainable land use.’ [2]

And one I saw on permies.com that I like …

‘Permaculture – A system giving high yields for low energy inputs, and using ‘only’ God’s intelligent design along with human observation & application to achieve a productive resource of great complexity and stability.’ ~ Jami/Mollison

And probably the most succint explanations I’ve heard recently spoken by one of the legends of Permaculture; Geoff Lawton:

‘It’s a system of design for sustainable living where humanity can provide for all it’s needs in a way that’s beneficial to the environment itself’

If those definitions aren’t enough here are some definitions from the elders of Permaculture.

What does Permaculture mean to me?

For me it means all of the above, but also it’s a real opportunity, to explore how we as humans, instead of being seperate from the earth and bringing degradation and destruction to it, can bring regeneration, stability, balance and sustainability. How WE can get into balance with that in which we are immersed; Nature! How we can find our place within this great eco-system in which we live so that we can live in harmony with that.

For me, this is a worthy endeavor and I feel fortunate that I am on this path.

Some good web sites if  you want to know more about Permaculture:


‘Learning to Live Well with the Earth’.
Andrew Faust has a talent for expressing what Permaculture is at it’s deepest level.

An interesting and humorous lecture on ‘Sustainability’ by Toby Hemenway.
Titled ‘How Permaculture Can Save Humanity and the Earth, but Not Civilization‘:

And if all that isn’t enough here is the cherry on top:

What Permaculture isn’t – and is. by Toby Hemenway

My Day of Birth

It took a while for it to hit me this morning. Today is Monday the 24th of October. I was born on the 24th of this month. I was born in the year of 1968 so I’m 43 today. It’s my birthday.

I never really give much value to my birthday. For me normally it’s just another day that marks a passage in time and I normally don’t give a care as to whether people remember my birthday or not. It does however seem to inevitably happen every year with family and good friends, which is nice, and then of course there are things like Facebook and Skype etc that remind friends and others also. Today, strangely enough, I got a call from the lady at the bank to felicitate me on my birthday. Ana Soandso, I recognised her voice pretty much straight away. She was talking to me in Portuguese real fast and I couldn’t understand what she was saying. This was my perception of it (para phrased and translated into english) …

Ana: [Introduces herself and starts saying quite alot but speaking really fast.]
Me: [After she finishes] Good morning Ana. I understand that you’re calling me from the bank but you’re speaking quite fast and I don’t understand what you’re saying.
Ana: Ah OK Senhor Millo. Pardon me. We are just calling you to felicitate you on your birthday.
Me: Oh OK. ‘Wow’! [in surprise]. What a service no? (in humour – meaning ‘wtf?’).
Ana: Yes, because that’s how we are here (at BPI).
Me: Oh, OK
Ana: I’d like to wish you a good day.
Me: Oh that’s nice. Thank you.
Ana: Cioa [I hear her starting to speak to her colleagues in the bank as she’s putting the phone down and hanging up. I wondered how many other people she had to call today to felicitate.]

I found that kind of funny and strange at the same time. I’ve never had a bank call me and wish me happy birthday. Really going the extra mile aren’t they? These people don’t even know me that well and they’re calling me to felicitate me on my birthday? It’s nice, don’t get me wrong, but obviously I have suspicions about it’s authenticity.

Funny though, even after this phone call I hadn’t properly acknowledged that it was actually my birthday. I then had this experience with the computer, where it was starting to play up. The whole screen started to flicker slowly to just primary colors, blue, green, red etc and then the screen just switched off. It went black. I thought maybe the screen had died and I was beginning to wonder how I was going to solve this problem with the now little money I have left saved. I shut down with the power button and restarted several times, and it seemed to happen every time shortly after logging in. I was still trying to determine what the possible cause was, until I went into the bios setup and accidentally (or subconsciously) changed the date and then having to recorrect the date to the current date it finally hit me that today is the day of my birth. It wasn’t until I’d seen it visually, (funnily enough on a black and white bio set up screen) that I’d was able to realise and acknowlege this properly. After this, it seemed that my computer starting working again fine! It was like as if it had all happened to just get me to acknowledge that today was my birthday

Is this experience trying to point out to me that some things don’t change until I’ve acknowledged / accepted certain things? Like my computer breaking down and stopping from working just in order to get me to acknowledge perhaps the fact that I’ve hit another marker in time, another stepping stone along this journey that I’m embarking upon and that this journey, like all journeys has a beginnning and an end? The acknowledging of the fact that my time here is limited? Me and the journey both are impermanent. Perhaps seeing this is what leads me to knowing myself deeper. What I get a strong sense of now is that my vision, my purpose, my love for certain things are all connected, all one and the same, and that I can only be at peace when I’m in tune with these. The only way I know how to do this is by being as open and as honest as I possibly can with everything, especially my heart (intuition). It feels like it’s a practice rather than some kind of inherent gift.

Things I’m still learning at 43 …

I’m learning (to surrender myself to) patience and acceptance. It’s a difficult struggle sometimes. The hardest thing is when I see my powerlessness over so many things, like for example when I see that it’s raining on all the mountains around me and I’m just getting a few drops and I’m so badly wanting to be innundated, rained upon hard, washed and drenched by the waters of the heavens. This is the practice, accepting that this is how it is right now and knowing that if it is to be solved and if it is for me to solve it then I have it within me to do so. I would not be here if I were not capable of finding a solution to the problems that exist around me.

Another thing I’m struggling with is letting go of bitterness, anger. A question of forgiveness. Funnily enough, just as I was writing this my friend Amelia called me and we spoke of a certain situation that is occurring with a mutual friend and the message that came through for me in that conversation was that I’ve had experiences happen to me that have been necessary, otherwise they wouldn’t have happened to me, and that perhaps the reason why I can’t forgive is that I have not yet been able to see, or receive insight as to, how that experience was necessary for me and how it has helped me to be HERE where I am and helping me right NOW in my present situation. It reminds me of a video that I saw once from Carolyn Myss, who shares a story of forgiveness. The message in that story however is that it’s the other way around, forgiveness must come first before the insight will occur …

… and in that case, I ask myself how I can forgive? I get the feeling that just by asking the question in itself opens up something and invites experiences that lead to the insights that then lead to letting go and forgiving. Perhaps forgiveness can happen in many different ways? It feels like a slow process.

All good things are born of patience and acceptance.

Love to all my friends and family on this (special) day.


I’ve been clearing terraces, and there has been so much organic matter that I’ve cleared now and I’ve been piling them into big mounds.

Hugelkultur humps ready to be united as ONE!

I’ve wanted to get a shredder/chipper so that I could then shred it and convert to biochar. Thing is that I can’t afford the shredder right now (although when I can, I’d love to have a go at making the Chipper / Hammermill on OpenSourceEcology). I’ve slowly been throwing dirt on some of these piles in order to try and get them to compress down so that the wind doesn’t blow them away and also so that they hold more moisture and can begin to decompose. I’ve only just recently become aware of what is termed ‘Hugelkultur’ beds. I think the idea really is to use solid chunks of tree trunks so that they can slowly decompose over time and become very good at holding moisture. Some say that when a Hugelkultur bed is established it can go for a whole season with very little, if any irrigation whatsoever.


I’d like to try so I’m going to convert these existing piles I have into Hugelkultur beds and see how they go over winter. I imagine they will compact down quite a bit over winter and hopefully will be nice and ready for some summer planting when time comes. I’ve also got a big pile that was one of the first piles I created when I had to cut back all the mimosas near the caravan.

Mimosa cuttings (mostly).

I guess that if I convert this into a Hugelkultur bed then I risk it popping up with Mimosa trees all over it but I think that would probably happen anyway, regardless of whether I make it into a Hugelkultur bed or not. I have read some articles saying that it’s OK to use Mimosa wood, so long as it’s dry. The problem that concerns me is the seeds. Anyway, I’ll update the post as I go along.

Update – Mimosa cuttings (shaped)
Update – Mimosa cuttings (with some dirt on top)

A good image that gives a better idea of what it should be like in ideal circumstances:

Links that could be of further interest …

Biochar vs Hugelkultur

Hugelkultur in Mediterranean Climate Portugal

The Art and Science of Making a Hugelkultur Bed – Transforming Woody Debris into a Garden Resource

and from one of the wise men of Permaculture, Sepp Holzer, on Farming with Terraces and Raised Beds

That’s all for now.

Effective Microorganisms (EM)

Also …

Newspaper Bokashi (site source)

Here’s a method called Newspaper Bokashi. You start with the water you wash rice with, ferment it with milk, give your newspaper a bath in the potion, and dry the newspaper. The newspaper is innoculated with your microbes. You then use the bokashi bucket, layering your kitchen scraps with the newspaper instead of bran.


Combine 1 part rice to 2 parts water. Shake or stir vigorously. Drain. The water will be cloudy. Lightly cover it. (Canning jar and ring to hold a coffee filter, cheesecloth or piece of paper towel should work) Air should be able to move in and out. The liquid should fill only 1/4 to 1/2 of the jar. Need a LOT of air exposure. Place in a cool dark place for 4 – 8 days. It should smell somewhat sour. Strain out any particles.

Put the ricewater in a larger container. Add 10 parts milk or skim milk. Cover lightly, ferment for 14 days. Most of he solids should float to the top, leaving a yellowish liquid. Strain off the solids. This is your purified lactobacillus serum. (Don’t you feel like a real scientist now?)

Take 1 part serum, 1 part molasses and 6 parts water. Soak newspapers, then drain. Put the newspaper in ziplock bags, squeeze air out and ferment for 10 days to 2 weeks. Remove newspaper, separate the layers and lay them out to dry.

More good information regarding EM:


How to make Bokashi

Bokashi used in Chicken Farming:

How to make your own EM:

First post – Hunting Season Opens

Well, this is just to start the blog. I don’t know where to start really. I have been here on my quinta that I own now and I’ve been here since June. I’ve been meaning to start this blog for some time now so I feel like I have much to write here. Mainly for exactly what it’s meant for, for logging my experiences here on Quinta das Moitas (Bush Farm, more on why it’s called that later) and also for my family and friends should they have any interest in what I’m up to.

Since I don’t know where to start, I would like to start with what’s happened to me today and shed light on a new challenge that has only just presented itself. It would be an honest place to start with where I am right now.

I had hunters come through my farm this morning. I heard some ruckus and shooting over the other side and thought that they were on my property somewhere close by. Eventually I saw a spaniel that came up just outside my caravan so I walked out. As I looked along the drive I saw them approaching so I started watching them, seeing if I could recognise them and slowly walked closer, I was recognising their faces, I knew atleast one of them. They yelled out to me to salute me, in a very neighbourly way. Two of them were people that I knew from the village. They were fully attired in their hunting gear and had their shotguns with them. They all came up to me and saluted me cordially and mentioned that it’s first day of hunting season (great!). One of them asked jokingly, ‘where are the pigs’ (onde estan los porcos?). They were friendly enough, but it kind of bothered me that they treated it like as if coming through my land was not any problem at all. It kind of shocked me really so I didn’t really know how to respond. It did however, make me feel as if these people were so different to me with respects to their values and got the impression that I’m already the odd one and that perhaps expressing my views on them passing through my land for the purposes of hunting might be a bit premature yet for several reasons.

[Last night coincidentally/synchronously I had a dream that there were hunters outside my caravan and I let them in because they were seeking shelter. In the dream they had a certain kind of overpowering energy about them.]

I’m not really sure how to show them, or make them recognise that there are certain parts of their value system that I just don’t share, not that I have anything against them at all, but this incident seems to highlight to me that perhaps it’s important to let the people around the area know what my intentions are here and see if that could perhaps lead them to the understanding that I would like to do my best to avoid killing any animals (or facilitate the killing of them by allowing others to come and traverse my land for the intention of killing). Anyway, to communicate this could be quite difficult. I guess I’ll have to work this one out as I go along. It does seem to matter to me now as to what they think of me. I knew two of them, one of them was the president of the Freguesia (the village) and the other one I’ve spoken with once down at the bar (he pointed to the fact that I had roses in my garden and so went searching for them after that and sure enough, amongst the bushes, which I have yet to clear, I found them. I’ve not seen them flower yet however) and so because of my acquaintance with them I am therefore tending towards politeness (politics) but I really am waiting on a vision to tell me how to play this one out. I feel like some distinction should be recognised, that we share different value systems and that each of them need to be respected. I don’t really know how to deal with this yet, could be a bit tricky, but I feel that at some point I will have to be honest with them and make things clear, one way or another. It’s a question of communication, and right now I’m still not fluent with the Portuguese, which is necessary I think, but I’ll get there. Patience. In the mean time, there is much work to do on the Bush Farm.

One of the visions that guides me here is one of getting other people involved and integrating adjoining lands together with the same intention of regeneration. If that vision were to be realised then I guess there’s no reason why giving this land back to nature and letting it develop within a permaculturally designed setting can’t lead to the region being declared a natural park of sorts. One where the people living within it would be sharing the values of deep ecology therefore viewing themselves as being at one with their natural environment. If this can become some kind of natural park, or declared protected area, then that could definitely lead to the protecting of the native fauna, including the porcos 🙂

Anyway, for now, I will upload some fotos into the gallery for historical reference and for any that wish to see.