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Permaculture Action Learning Pathway Spring 2009

“I think if we could get Earth in a living and stable state, not a constantly degrading and dying state caused by our actions, then we have won some right to go to the stars. But at present I don’t think we’d be welcome anywhere else in the universe. You wouldn’t welcome anybody who’d laid waste to their house and wanted to live in yours, I’m sure.”

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Bill Mollison, Founder of Permaculture

This is my first year of planting on the quinta so I wanted to detail some of what I have been up to as I meander along my permaculture action learning pathway here…

First thing was to cordon off some areas to protect them from compaction damage by our dear donkeys. In some of these areas I have planted green manure crops of lupins and oats that I will let grow and then cut to provide nutrition and hummus for more beds next year. I currently have a fairly large area on the valley floor directly below the house which I have been cultivating and will be the main garden area. I made some raised beds with a little help from my friends and mixed in plenty of compost, donkey manure (thanks fellas!) and wood ash. I have also been spraying with EMs (Effective Micro organisms, more about them in another post…) to balance the PH of the soils and regenerate the microbial population. The soil, after years of being covered by brambles and probable chemical fertilizer usage, has a dearth of earthworms and I am hoping this may help encourage them back. I also plan to dig a pond in the garden area when I get around to it, which I hope will add to the biodiversity.

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This year I am experimenting with beds mulched with cardboard and straw to keep the weeds out and the water in, and also bare soil beds in which I am sowing a variety of seeds all mixed together. While this means more time spent weeding I am curious to see which food plants flourish and support each other naturally in this environment. I have planted a multitude of veggies and edible flowers so far, mostly grown from seed: carrots, beets, onions, garlic, cabbages, radishes, melons, cucumbers, courgettes, pumpkin, squash, peppers, tomatoes, aubergine, beans, hot peppers, spinach, lettuce, cilantro, parsley, brussel sprouts, chard, daikon, tat choi, chicory, lambs quarters, purslane, watercress, nasturtiums, chrysanthemums, calendula, amaranth, kale, broccoli, radicchio, golden berries, goji berries, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, chokeberries, bilberries and herbs of all kinds…

Volunteer, and now good friend and fellow transition traveller, Mike, was inspired to plant some corn, beans and squash in old Indian style. What I thought would end up being a few mounds turned out to be 18 rows as Mike pursued his permaculture passion under the Portugal sunshine!

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We also completed repairs to the old levada (irrigation) channel in time for summer (thanks again Mike!), which will bring water from upstream to the terraces of the quinta.

How does my garden grow? Watch this space!

Here are some photos of the quinta (and stubborn yet adorable donkeys) in all its springtime glory. Enjoy!

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Pete

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