Sustainable Lifestyle, implementation at PermaTree

Sustainable living is a lifestyle on which we have strong focus at Finca PermaTree. An Overview of all on-going sustainable lifestyle elements and implementation.

In first hand, at PermaTree, you can learn what sustainable lifestyle is, within a minimal ecological footprint – as our goal.

To name a few sustainable ways, we’d like to start with our most important resource, our fresh water. It arises directly from the waterfall out of the mountain. We also have a natural swimming pool which is fueled by the overrun of the main water tank. 90% of our natural house is built from the fast growing bamboo, instead of wood or cement. We have no glass windows. Just bamboo windows and most doors are recycled or made out of bamboo too.

We recycled beer bottles for the shower and toilet facility, implemented in to walls and old tires to make stairs and erosion control projects. Our main stair is build with 103 recycled car tires – they can last up to 500 years 🙂 Our Chickens produce organic eggs and clean the permaculture zone 1 from insects and possible pests. Living fences are growing up to big trees and will help fixing nitrogen in the depleted soil.

All our light bulbs are LED. They use a very small amount of electric power. One of our showers is heated by black pipes with the heat of the sun rays, instead of electricity and all of our grey waste water goes into a banana circle, which will be filter and followed in to the ground. The “humanure” waste from our composting toilets, we use as fertilizer.

You see, the sustainable elements are truly holistic from raising chickens, recycling tires, growing living fences to home made and fresh cooking.

We also are an education hub, where people can learn about all these techniques, which they can apply to there own homes.

Summary of the Sustainable Lifestyle, implementations so far:

  • Composting toilet – creating natural fertilizer instead of contaminating drinking water.
  • Building with local, natural (bamboo, wood, palm, etc.) and recycled materials.
  • Consuming the less as possible amount of electricity.
  • Solar power energy – was our first thought here but due to the current politics with 45% additional tax makes no sense IMHO.
  • We use fossil fuels such as oil and natural gas for long term purpose. Minimizing using the car when ever possible.
  • More organic waste, which goes to the animals and creates new soil.
  • Implementing animals for multiple diverse functions: Chickens, Guinea Pigs, Dogs and Bees.
  • Reusing gray water to feed the banana circle.
  • Slowing down existing water and reusing it multiple times, until it leaves the perimeters.
  • Plant Nursery – where we grow all kind of plants from seeds.

 

Finca PermaTree with lots of pasture - status April 2017, a good year after starting from scratch.

Finca PermaTree with lots of pasture – status April 2017, a good year after starting from scratch.

Think local
We support local markets. Once a week we do our grocery shopping in Yantzaza, and every second week we support the Saraguro village by buying their organic vegetables at the market in Yantzaza. Of course we also support our neighbors. One of them produces fresh raw cheese. Our long term goal is indeed to grow all at our own farm – self sustainable. But all needs time, investment, practical knowledge and creativity.

Up-cycling, also known as creative reuse
We produce as little waste as possible. For example, plastic! We always bring our own recycled plastic bags for shopping to reduce the amount of plastic bags! Apart from this mindfulness task, after a year, we already have a huge box full of plastic bags… We reuse them – upcycle them. You can find inspiration on Pinterest like this one. Organic waste goes to our animals and they produce fresh compost out of it.

There is no such thing as waste in nature and that’s why there is a key permaculture principle which reminds us that “waste” is nothing else than a unused resource(!) Once you see the world like that, there are literally no limits.

All animals bring their benefits
No matter how big or small they are, all animals have multiple possible uses. As mentioned above, we want to produce our own food. Which means fruits (read our blog post about tropical fruits of Ecuador) and vegetables primarily. And to harvest fruits, first – it takes time. Depending on the species, up to 8 years. But what is even more important to have fruits grow on trees – pollination. Through wind or bees, humming-bird, butterfly and others. So our current project is to implement bee hives, to increase the pollination, of all the fruits of finca PermaTree. If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man. Quote – Société Central d’Apiculture, May 1965. More about this topic read this wired article – will we still have fruit if bees die off.

Like our dogs, they have their function as guards. We could say our natural alarm system. And of course because we love dogs! The food we give them is pure raw meat, fresh meat “waste”, if you want so, which people wouldn’t eat anyway. So instead of throwing it away our dogs appreciated it! The good thing, in Latin America, it is still possible to get such meat while in our country, where you can hardly find butchers, they won’t sell you that kind of meat. It’s usually already sorted out from industries, and only the good peace’s getting sold. Obviously this kind of natural raw meat food is also much healthier for the dogs than the industrial-dog food. So another win win situation.

Chicks with mother. The white one survived.

Chicks with mother. The white one survived.

Mentioned at the edge; our Guinea Pigs “Cuys”, how they call them, produce fertilizer through there dug, like the chickens as well. And by using our organic waste as food for the chickens, it produces automatically compost, attracts insects, which chickens will also eat and so on. This cycle has its purpose and it is an important need of mother earth. When the animals die we will dig them up near a fruit tree and that same fruit tree will have a great source of calcium, phosphor etc… all vitamins it needs to produce more healthy food. Works better than any synthetic/chemical fertilizer.

Guinea Pigs "Cuys"

Guinea Pigs “Cuys”

Electricity
Talking about smart solutions, we are still looking for alternatives. Solar Panels, the batteries are very expensive in Ecuador because it’s an imported product and there are no industries here who produces them. And because of the current politics policy on importing electric goods. Currently we use gas and electricity from the grid. Ecuadors grid electricity is from hydroelectric power which means is produced from water in movement, which is better than gas, coal or atomic electric grids.

Fossil Fuel
Our pickup runs with diesel. But the longterm idea is to get rid of the car, when we have our proper food production and there is no more need for material transportation, etc..
Currently the Fossil Fuel are still available … so if we use them wisely for long term purposes they help us to implement smart alternatives faster than without them. Our future goal is to live mainly on the finca and to replace the car with a few local mules which are a variety of a donkeys.

Reforestation and implementing clever root system
Reforestation is a big topic all over the world, because as I mentioned; trees where cut down – whole fields are cleared up for cattle or mono culture. So, fields rich in water, animals and biodiversity just disappeared and lots of places, because of these actions, around the world turned in to deserts. Trees are very important to give shade, reducing heat, give shelters for animals, as transportation of water and much more.

Porotillo - living fence / cerca viva

Porotillo – living fence / cerca viva

At our Finca we planted already thousands of trees but one local timber tree I want to mention here, named Porotillo. We use it for living fences. “Cerca Viva” how the call it here. A tree which grows fast from the stick itself and has spines. A living fence will hold much longer than one out of other materials, like for example: dead wood sticks or a wire mesh fence. To keep cows out of the boundary for example or on the other hand give animals like bird’s new shelter. It will increase soil fertility and bring much additional benefits.

Vetiver grass
Vetiver is a native Indian grass, that makes roots up to 15 Meters in to the ground. A true miracle grass and best for soil erosion to help stabilize soil. It is also known to protect fields against pests, it attracts the stem borer (Chilo partellus), which lay their eggs preferably on Vetiver. Due to the hairy architecture of Vetiver, the larvae cannot move on the leaves, fall to the ground and die. Vetiver can be also used as an insecticide or termite repellent. As a mulch, Vetiver is used for weed control in coffee, cocoa and tea plantations. The Vetiver Grass helps to get rid of heavy metals in soil. It is capable of growing in fuel-contaminated soil and has favorable qualities for animal feed. The extracted oil from the roots is used in cosmetics, perfumes, creams and soaps for skincare and has anti-fungal properties. Finally used for handicrafts, ropes and more here.

Vetiver grass at PermaTree

Vetiver grass at PermaTree

Vetiver grass at PermaTree

Vetiver grass at PermaTree

Building Material
To build our house we used mostly natural materials. The wood comes from the local carpenter, but better in small quantities we thought because sadly, there are not much trees left! And it seems like nobody is caring about planting new trees. The bigger part, of the house, we invested in Bamboo. The thing is, in our region people do not know how to work with Bamboo. The material Bamboo as construction is more used near the coast and it is also not possible to buy Bamboo near our place. So we had to order it from the coast. But we thought, rather in big amounts. First, to have enough material and second, to reduce the transportation – once. 40 giant Bamboo trunks we harvested at the shore if the river Zamora. But, there are some rules about cutting Bamboo properly.

We cut the Giant Bamboo at 00:30 a.m. in the morning. These bamboo trunks where huge! Very tall and 15 to 20 cm diameter and it’s best to harvest them during the 6th and 8th day after full moon, between 12:00 p.m. and 06:00 a.m. they reach the lowest starch content. This is important because only then, it won’t be a attraction for the insects which can attack the bamboo and damage the trunk. (read our blog post about the harvesting details here).

The good thing about Bamboo is, it grows faster (up to 90cm per day!) and produces 35% more oxygen than a tree. We have been planted Bamboo now all around the property near creeks. Gigant Bamboo, Guadua, Bicolor and black Bamboo.

Cutting giant Bamboo at midnight.

Cutting giant Bamboo at midnight.

PermaTree main bamboo house - front view.

PermaTree main bamboo farm house – front view.

Main house, double layer guadua bamboo walls.

Main house, double layer guadua bamboo walls.

Volunteers house, guadua bamboo structure.

Volunteers house, guadua bamboo structure.

Recycling and redirecting of waste water
We recycled old tires to build stairs, (check out our blog post about tire stairs) or water and beer bottles to build walls for the shower and toilet, we reused old wooden doors and implemented them. We have a compost toilet to reduce the amount of waste water and to use human waste as a fertilizer when it’s decreased down to compost (humanure). Therefore, we don’t have black water which will usually come from the classic-toilet waste through pipes. But we do have gray water. Wastewater generated in our household, from shower and sink drain. This water is directed, through tubes to our Banana cycle. These plants will absorb leavings from the gray water which goes in to the ground. We use non-toxic and low-sodium soap and personal care products to protect vegetation while reusing greywater for irrigation purposes.

Banana circles can also be used as an outdoor shower/wash area, with the addition of a platform to stand on in the middle of the circle and a simple privacy screen. Fast-growing plants can be incorporated into the design to provide a living fence. More about Banana circles here.

Sustainable: Compost Toilet (humanure) at PermaTree

Sustainable: Compost Toilet (humanure) at PermaTree

Building the recycled bottle wall for the shower.

Building the recycled bottle wall for the shower.

Bottle wall - outside view of the shower.

Bottle wall – outside view of the shower.

Sustainable: We used lots of recycling bottles for our shower.

Sustainable: We used lots of recycling bottles for our shower.

Recycled bottles and doors for the compost toilet.

Recycled bottles and doors for the compost toilet.

Sustainable - 103 Recycled tires, stairs.

Sustainable – 103 Recycled tires, stairs.

Natural Ponds and Pool
The water overflow from the big water tank goes directly in to the natural pool. If the pool is full the redundant water will find it’s way out through the tube which is installed. From there the water goes in to swales on the property and finally in to the ground. We want to keep the water as long as possible on our property. For the pond in the entrance, we like to have some ducks or even better geese which make noise if someone ore something enters the property. Fishes will be added and water plants are essential but hard to find. To clean the water and for amphibians to provide them food and hiding places.

The highest natural pool from above.

The highest natural pool from above.

Lago Negro - Natural pond up the hill.

Lago Negro – Natural pond up the hill.

Near the Plan 1 - another natural pond.

Near the Plan 1 – another natural pond.

Loofa – Natural sponge
Until now, we bought our foam rubber from the Supermarket, but they usually did not last longer than a week. So we were seeking for alternatives. The only natural sponge we knew came from the sea. But then we found the Loofah sponge a squash plant, which we just recently started to grow. The inner dry skeleton can be used as a sponge. Apart from using the vegetable as soup it has also medicinal purposes. Loofahs are loaded with vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin K and folates.

Loofa the vegetable.

Loofa the vegetable.

Food, all home made and tasty
Back in our country, there was not much time to cook and so it was hard to eat 100% healthy. Even if we kept an eye on it. But now we take the time to produce our own food. We made fermented food like Sauerkraut, Banana Vinegar which is super easy to make and the typical drink, they call it “Chica”. From Chonta; Peach-Palm, Corn or Yuca. Our own bread – without oven, fresh salads from Beetroot, Cabbage, Potatoes and Carrots. Arugula and Cherry tomatoes which we already have been harvested form the garden. Different kinds of Humus from Chickpeas or Beans which delivers a bunch of proteins. It’s all about the preparation timing. Sometimes we start early, because for instance, beans can take up two hours to cook.

A typical day involves a big bowl of seasonal tropical fruit (Banana, Papaya and maybe Mango) with oatmeal and fruit juice for breakfast. Lunch could be rice with peanut butter, salad and carrots, lentils with shredded coconut meat. Dinner may be lighter like Papaya with lemon juice or just some rice with eggs. We focus on seasonal, partly organic and local produce we purchase at the market and harvest as much of our own food from the Finca as we can. More inspiring healthy dishes at our Finca here.

Typical fruit breakfast at PermaTree

Typical fruit breakfast at PermaTree

 

Home made bread.

Home made bread.

Fermented Bananas turning to vinegar.

Fermented Bananas turning to vinegar.

Our own vegetable garden is growing. Status January 2017

Our own vegetable garden is growing. Status January 2017

Socialize
We like to interact with people, who share the similar interests or are interested in our philosophy. There is always a possibility to learn from each other. People from all over the world come together at PermaTree, to have the possibility for cultural interchange. They can reach a gasp in to our daily farming and living cycle. As you see, happy Volunteers in the center, posing for the picture 🙂

Local and international people come together at PermaTree - field work day

Local and international people come together at PermaTree – field work day

Plant Nursery
At the PermaTree plant nursery we plant directly from seeds, many of them directly from the fruits we have eaten. When the plants have reached a good size we transplant them at the finca.

PermaTree plant nursery with Btina

PermaTree plant nursery with Btina

The Plant Nursery at permaTree - status February 2017

The Plant Nursery at permaTree – status February 2017

Growing Bamboo
We grow Bamboo Grass mainly for slowing down water and future building material. Bamboo is not a tree but a giant grass and so does not grow, by division, but by elongation. Bamboo as a plant in nature is actually antibacterial, and has the ability to withstand some of the most vociferous bacteria out there. Bamboo produces 35% more oxygen compared to a tree. It can also lower light intensity and protects man against ultraviolet rays. Bamboo is a good soil conservation plant. With its widespread root system, it can provide an effective erosion control. It sustains riverbanks and serves as good windbreaks.

Baby giant Bamboo - starting to grow

Baby Giant Bamboo – starting to grow

A new young born - bamboo bicolor

A new young bamboo shot – bamboo bicolor

Final
A lot of information about living and implementing natural Sustainable patterns in to our farm. We hope to inspire you, giving you an idea what’s possible at the very beginning, within permaculture philosophy. This is our first year of PermaTree and as you can see, we already implement a few Sustainable patterns (see History of PermaTree). Share “Do-It-Yourself Ideas” to replicate or improve them as needed. Depending on the situation, this is what inspires us to move on.

Do you have some Sustainable inspiration for us? Let us know!

Challenges – as first time Chicken Owners

Why Chickens?

The main interest of having free-range chickens at our organic farm was, to have real and own organic eggs as food nutrition and the chicken dug for soil fertilizer.

How to start?
But as we were – without knowledge about raising chickens. It was a completely new experience.

First, of course, we were talking to local people about what chicken’s needs are. Most feed them with corn (GMO grains or amendments) or “Balanceado” how they call it, the industrial produced fodder for chickens. So we decided to start with corn and organic matter from the kitchen.

Free-range onto busy streets!
Most chickens, in Latin America, running around free, not like we used to see – behind fences. So, chickens are even walking dangerously on to the road, because people just have their houses there. Poor chicken, without knowing of their chances to run over by a vehicle.

Fence yes or no?
For the start, we decided to put them behind a fence because people also told us there are wild animals which eats chickens. And as our farm is a bit outside in the Amazon region, there are wild animals living and having their home at our farm. The spot, is not fare from our house, above the shower, with a little tree to give them shade. And the tree gives them also a place to sleep when they climb up for bedtime – when the sun gets down around 06:15 p.m.

So our 1.50m fence was built and a ruff house out of wooden and bamboo piece was there too a little water pot from the hardware store – ready!

Beginning and building of the chicken fence.

Time to get chickens!
Now it’s time to buy chickens! The first two, where given for free from neighbors. An other one we bought somewhere. Two others we bought again from someone else and two little ones have been joined a bit later too.

First impression
The first thing which I noticed about chickens was, they all have their own characters. And second, they had a hard involving time to the new mixed clan because there were too many strangers around. They were fighting about the boss role and because the rooster was still too young, to take over this role, the hens where trying hard to get this position. Which was a busy and unsettled atmosphere.

The second thing was, they escaped over the fence. Just flew over and one disappeared in to the woods without turning back. One less! From there we made the fence double the height. So people advised us, rather to cut wings for less escapes by air. Which we did, except for one. The one, which is still alive today, but more about that later.

Higher chicken fence, like it is today.

Time passed but no eggs.
We were now caring well for our new folks but they did not lay eggs! What did we wrong? We asked for advice. We have to give them more free space; they don’t lay eggs when there behind fenced. Well, in Europe or other countries they are also behind fences and do lay eggs – but anyway let’s try it. It might not hurt, we thought.

Free range, the wolf wasn’t far.
So we let them out watched them happily picking around and thought; well then, let’s leave them for a while outside. But not much time passed and our dog, which we had to give away because of this problem, started to hunt our chickens! First, he attacked the little one. Later he found a way to enter, in to the fence and every morning, we saw him inside the fence, with his greedy eyes, by the chickens! Because we cut them the wings, it was very easy for him to finally hunt all the chickens one by one. One morning there was only one chicken to see which was outside the fence – escaped! The escaped one which we did not cut the wings survived with a big shock!

1.50m chicken fence (beginning) and the wolf by my side!

Hero chicken survivor!

Electric fence for the wolf
From that day on, we connected the fence with electricity and bought a few new chickens. Let’s start from scratch, then! The fence worked! crying voice of our dog was to hear when he touched the fence. But that wasn’t a big deal for him, if not at home then I go to the neighbors and hunt what I can. He killed like 30 chickens around the neighborhood and we had to come up for the mess, which wasn’t cheap. At the same day, we sadly had to give him away because we did not wanted a dog who is hunting all the time or has to stay forever at the leash! We found a new family for him and the busy days got calmed down!

What’s the treasure about having chickens laying eggs?
But we still didn’t figure why our chickens do not lay eggs. It was more like every now and one there was an egg in the nest but not like others experiences are talking, one egg per hen. We kept them in the fence and continued feeding them well. People advised us to give them more corn and onions – then they start laying. Well we did that but not much changed. Then we thought, it might be the nests they don’t like, it might be too small for them? We designed a new house with bigger nests and renewed it. What an effort for these chickens!

Challenge of the new chicken house.
But then we had the problem that they didn’t figured the way in because to enter the house they had to excess from the bottom, below the house. Which they weren’t used to do it. We tried to help with little stairs but didn’t helped. We pimped then the house, closed the holes below and made a new big entrance from the side. That was much easier. They started to enter, with the help of spreading corn.

New chicken house with side entrance.

New chicken house with side entrance.

New chicken house under the tree which grow big!

New house but where are the eggs?
But still, there was not much encouragement on laying eggs. But then, one day, I talked to another neighbor, she has also chickens and I was wondering what’s the missing part. She showed me then, that she had always one egg left in the nest. Doesn’t matter if real or a dummy, just has to be the same size and shape like an egg. Must be something psychological, I thought. So we bought some of these cheap eggs and placed 3 in two of the boxes. And viola, it worked! What a success! One just started with her production, that worked well.

Today
Meanwhile, we have two dogs which are not hunting, and we thought you know, now we could actually give it a other try and let them out, free-range. Every morning, we open their gate and they walk happily around. Worked very well! The rooster in front and the clan behind – which is a good sign. The clan has a good vibration they know each other now. Once because we bought them from the same neighbor. Except the one which survived and another one who had promising potential to lay eggs. They told us, but until now not really productive. Anyways, we have happy chickens and even a Jung one from our own breed!

Free-range for our chickens, they like to be near the house.

Chicks – YEY, one survived!
There was a time, one of our hen started to sit permanently on her eggs. Just for food she left her nest and we realized that there is a potential for chicks. After about 20 days the first young chick hatched out of the egg. So exciting!

Chicks with mother. The white one survived.

The chick today.

On the end there were four chicks but only one survived. One drowned in the water pool we had set up. One just in the nest and another one behind the chicken house. Was kind a frustrating because we did not know what occurred. But the only one which survived is still alive and is growing well to a hen! I hope they breed again!

Growing Plants from Seeds, with the right Soil

Soil types at PermaTree

In the beginning of PermaTree, we just used the soil we found around the plant nursery which has a reddish and claylike soil texture. Not ideal for the seeds to germinate, we found out. It makes them hard to thrive, because of the slow drainage rate and therefore the high water-holding capacity.

The main soil we have at the Finca, is a claylike, reddish soil.

So, we were thinking it might be best to mix this claylike soil with compost to become a smoother structure to thrive the seeds an easier way to spread. But at that time we did not had our proper compost soil, so we had to find a vendor – which was only possible by asking around.

We just bumped in to a new raised project in the city of Yantzata where they produce, from organic waste of the garbage dump, compost soil. We were happy to finally find someone who is producing compost soil in big amounts and we liked the idea of the project because people usually do not reuse organic waste. All goes in to the same trash. So we bought a few bags of this compost and gave it a try.

The result was, the compost contained to much nutrition and for the little plants, there roots, got burned and finally they died. Also the compost had a nasty sticky structure. The surface dried out very fast and it got very hard. Inside it was so wet that the soil got moody and by turning the pot over you could smell the moodiness. Even for bigger Plants this compost soil failed in all cases. Plants firmly died by looking at them!

Soil condition in dry state of the compost, humus, fertilizer from Yantzaza.

So finally we had to drop the idea of using this compost soil, nice project, but something was not acting well.

Then we tried a other mixture with sand, which we bought by the river bank nearby and an almost black soil which we discovered near our workers house. A nice and smooth soil. Who thrived pretty well and now, after several times, throwing pots away and start from scratch, we had our first success! YEY!

So, best mixture is 80% Sand and 20% Compost or black soil.

Humus, soil near the workers house.

Sand texture from the river bank.

But there are different sand textures as well. Sometimes the sand is so fine that it sticks together like clay. Therefore, better sand with tiny, tiny stones in it, to keep a loose soil for good drainage so the water can flow through and does not stay to long in the pot, to avoid putrefaction.

With the time we had been talking to all kinds of people about soil and where to buy best, how to make our own fertilizer and by that, we received many, many answers and various techniques, how to make compost soil. Which was also a bit confusing for us and the question was, where to start best?

Our first idea was just throwing all organic matter from the kitchen into an earth hole. But soon we had company from ugly worms and the compost was very watery. Crops and dry components where definitely missing. And probably the hole thing wasn’t helping. So we actually didn’t know how to make a proper compost in a tropical climate like we are in.

Our first contact was a visit at the Japanese community TAKAKURA nearby. They make a soil with fermented crops, and finally the microorganisms break all the organic matter down to a black compost soil. A tradition Japanese recipe like they use it to make compost soil. There are two fermented solutions needed which can be read in a detailed manual they gave us. But still it is kind a tricky if you never got hands on it. We were just missing the insiders. When do I have to mix it how and how long and how does the soil look like, when do we have to add more from them and that? So we were kind a in the situation of not dared to venture.

There was another community near Yantzaza which also restores compost soil. They call it Bukatchi. Also a fermented process a fantastic soil for seeds! But we found it very complicated to produce. The recipe is long! You need lots of ingredients and fermented elements to produce Bukatchi according to their recipe and their stock is very little. You have to cut organic matter in tiny peace which is a time consuming process by hand.

Time passed and we came across with a completely different project the Guanabanas, Soursop a super food fruit which kills cancer cells hundred times more than chemotherapy. This all organic project made us very confident to produce them over large scale. So they told us, when the plant is placed in to the hole, fertilizer must be added to give them a good growing start. Over a other person we found a seller from Cuenca. A very good soil! Two bags we had to mix, one was a compost from leaves and the other was compost with cow dough. But this soil is really only for plants which are higher than 20 cm. Otherwise again, it’s too much nutrition and therefore not for seedlings!

Compost, humus, fertilizer soil from Cuenca.

For seedlings we used only like 10% of this fertilizer and the rest 60% with sand and 20% rice husks until the soil gets very smooth and light. Instead of compost soil we are using now goat dug which works well too. But as I mentioned, just very little because it is high in nutrition!

Goat dug fertilizer.

Dry rice husks, shells.

Why not chicken dug? Because it is very strong and the chicken dug is most likely coming from chickens which are treated with antibiotics, which is anyway bad for the soil. Better use Guinea pig dug or like mention above.

So this whole process took us one-year experimentation to find out what’s the best soil condition for our seedlings. We also found out that Papaya needs a lot of nutrition and Carrot grow best in sandy soil.

Compost soil is still an open project which we are working on it and hoping that hope one day to keep it up and ideally have a Volunteer on board who can support on showing us exactly how to produce smooth and nice black soil!

Plant Nursery, picture from today, 18. April 2017

Young chilli peper plant.

young Noni plant

Young Tomato plant.

Good fertilizer for Tomato, wooden ash!

Young Rambutan, plant

Young Pitahaya, Dragon Fruit plant.

 

 

Bamboo Volunteer Cabin

The latest PermaTree micro project is to build a bamboo house mainly for volunteers with an amazing view of the Rio Zamora and the Valle de las Luciernagas. The size will be 6 x 3 meters and there will be a fix hammock on the panoramic view side of the house.

This is another so called ecological or natural building we are finalizing here. Actually in this remote region of Ecuador most local people who can,  build concrete and steel just because they believe its better… so once a while we get visitors at our place its always interesting to see their reactions 🙂 Most important is that we can use sustainable materials such as fast growing bamboo and some wood elements which are needed. The wood is going to be a real issue long term in Ecuador and most of Latin America. There is no real serious existing timber tree replanting policy in most countries. So once the trees are cut. There are no more trees. And some take over 200 year to grow. So we believe thinking long term bamboo and giant bamboo is a real good alternative because it can theoretically grow 90 cm / 35 in which is more than just amazing because it has literally 100s of additional beneficial factors.

Photos of the development of the volunteer bamboo house at PermaTree 

Last week of March 2017 at PermaTree

A week in 2017 at PermaTree

So this has been an interesting week, to say the least. And on behalf of many volunteers and visitors asking what we do here at PermaTree and how a week of tropical farm work looks like, here the summary of the last week of March of the year 2017.

permatree 28march End of Another Day Walking Down to the finca

Monday 27th March

Chris finished planting 3 Bamboo “estacas” for each of the almost 1000 Guanabana fruit trees. Chris and Audrey also started to dig the entrance path for the new volunteer Bamboo structure. After that they went and started to cut off more of this awful fast growing pasture which we have here too. After dinner we did a killer yoga session.

Tuesday 28th March

It rained hard but we started the day transplanting 3 quite big coconut trees. The young helpers from the local school arrived in the afternoon and helped us a little to cut down grass with machetes. Btina found time to transplant a few vegetables to the main vegetable garden. We are preparing a second vegetable garden below the chickens because of the great chicken compost falling directly into the garden bed. Audrey and Chris found time to start building a prolongation of the existing recycled tire stairs heading to the main water tank.

Wednesday 29th March

Chris finished to dig the natural swimming pool water drainage which flows now down well. Audrey cleaned the 103 recycled tires staircase pineapple plantation from all of the growing weeds.

Thursday 30th March

In the morning we went to plant two giant Bamboo higher in the property to secure a creek which has lots water. Currently we have been able to plant 4 giant Bamboo there. It took us a while to get there. Chris and myself transporting one big Bamboo and Audrey all the tools we needed there like Machete, Gancho, Shovel etc. Getting there we noticed that the water pipe of the stream which passes under the access road was clogged so we Doug out all of the earth, sand and rocks until it was clean again.

Thursday Afternoon

In the afternoon after another success-fool-lunch we transplanted a few grown-up vetiver perennial bunchgrass (Chrysopogon zizanioides) which we had initially planted about 8 month ago. Some of this vetiver gras had grown taller than 2 meters high so it was time to split it and transplant it where it was more needed like near the natural swimming pond and on the sides of the 200m long drainage canal. After this we planted Mani aka peanut. If they grow well we can make our own peanut butter. This is a fantastic source of good fats for the diet. The more good fats the better here on the farm. After dinner we had a super tasty chicha drink – a fermented beverage derived from the fruit of the local chonta palm.

Friday 31th March

After the breakfast we harvested some of the great tasting yellow cacao which they call “Cacao Nacional” here in Ecuador. Before that we went to harvest some papayas and plantains higher up in the property. Early afternoon the first truckload of Carlos beach sand compost arrived – a total of 12 m3. The initial plan was to explore the PermaTree waterfalls before Audrey continues here travels but heavy rainfall changed this brilliant plan. We cooked some delicious home-made plain simple bread – without oven. Chris and Cunanchi digged all the 30 holes for the new maracuya-pole-plantation-structure near the 1st “plan”. Audrey and myself went to get some essential foods which run out at the farm, in Yantzaza.

Saturday 1st April

Lunch was the highlight of the whole month! Pizza “casera” all home made and naturally extremely tasty. Lucky us we got some of the tasty local cheese again – its bern a few month without since we found some of it. After our ritual super fruit breakfast we headed to Yantzaza to get a few things and drop Audrey at the terminal aka bus station. While heading home we stopped at Madras place before entering the village of Los Encuentros where we purchased 6 mid size mix race type guinea pigs with one ñapa aka gift guinea pig. They will have a key function at PermaTree – eat the grass and create fresh compost for our plant to grow happy.

 

Saturday Afternoon 1st April

The afternoon started when Carlos phoned and told us he was to be expected within 10 minutes with the 2nd truckload of Rio Zamora beach sand material for further fertilization purposes. Then Chris and myself planted another giant Bamboo at a key place between the creek and the 2nd “plan”. We fished two fruit trees which have been parked below the 1st pond due to their not so healthy looks back then – about 4 month ago, and finally  transplanted them between all the existing growing food forest. Having now the new beach sand fertilizer we started pouring some of it at every fruit tree and Bamboo.

Sunday 2nd April

We will be Market day in El Pangui because the organic produce arrives just all 14 days in Yantzaza so we go to El Pangui. Here we will pick up our new volunteer Maddie which wanted to arrive Saturday but the bus trip took something like 3 hours longer than what they forecasted so we had to adjust the planning.

Between most of those works we have had  multiple trips to Yantzaza and Los Encuentros for current projects and future projects… 🙂 our days start rather early for some nocturnal people, at 05:55 and normally we are back sleeping at 21:00 o clock. Good sleep is as essential like good food for a good farm work day. Speaking climate wise we had more rain than usual because we are currently in the rainy season now.