Mycorrhiza Fungi

As part of the goal to achieve an increase in the world’s agricultural production to meet the needs of a growing global population, farmers and researchers alike must consider the sustainable intensification of agriculture.

To intensify agricultural systems, we must consider improving the amount of production knowledge per hectare – both above and below the soil surface (Rillig et al., 2016). A major, yet relatively misunderstood component of sustainable agricultural intensification is mycorrhizal fungi.

The word mycorrhiza comes from the Greek words mycos meaning fungi, and rhiza meaning soil.

Thus, mycorrhizal fungi are a classification of fungi that grows within the soil. Most notably, this type of fungi often forms symbiotic relationships with plants. Two distinct forms of mycorrhiza exist: ectomycorrhiza which remains outside plant cells, and endomycorrhiza in which part of the fungi exists inside the plant cell (Parniske, 2008).

Of all mycorrhiza fungi, the arbuscular mycorrhiza (AM) (a relationship between plants and members of an ancient phylum of fungi – Glomeromycota) is the most widespread terrestrial symbiosis, forming relationships with 70 – 90% of all land plant species (Parniske, 2008). For the purposes of agriculture, AM fungi is the most important mycorrhiza to research and incorporate its management into farming practices.

During AM fungi’s evolution, its ability to degrade carbon compounds was lost, preventing them from becoming a pathogen to host plant (Rillig et al., 2016). This interesting trait allowed AM fungi to form relationships with plants within the plant cell, leading to a symbiosis in which the fungi improves the supply of water and nutrients, such as phosphate and nitrogen, to the plant. In return the plant provides up to 20% of fixed carbon to the fungi (Parniske, 2008).

In theory, this contribution to the plant should allow to grow roots deeper into the soil, retrieving more nutrients and thus allow it to grow stronger and increase yields for agricultural crops. Furthermore, AM fungi increases drought resistance of host plants via its ability to improve water uptake (Altieri, Nicholls, Henao, & Lana, 2015). The properties of AM fungi are understood, however, the degree of their contribution to increasing yields and sustaining production relative to other soil properties is not completely understood and would require further research in complex soil relationships to fully understand.

Research on potato production has demonstrated that inoculation of AM fungi strains produces significant increases in yields. In a large trial, yields increased from 38.3 tons/ha to 42.2 tons/ha when the crops were inoculated with AM fungi (Hijri, 2016). This indicates that inoculation is a valid form of mycorrhiza technology available to farmers looking to increase their yields via natural processes. Other technologies (in the form of management practices) include basic pillars of conservation agriculture: no-till practices, continuous crop cover, and diversification practices (FAO, 2015). Some agricultural practices can have deleterious affects on AM fungal abundance and diversity (Rillig et al., 2016).

Responses of AM fungi to soil stoichiometry (soil chemical balance) is often species specific, therefore it is difficult to predict how AM fungi will react to the introduction of new plant species, bacteria, and other organisms that play a role in soil chemistry. In the future, direct measurements of mycorrhiza abundance may be available to farmers, allowing them to make precise responses to fluctuation in such abundance. This ability in combination with an accessible dataset may provide a major tool for farmers worldwide, by providing a rich and detailed source of field-tested mycorrhizal knowledge. A lack of field-based technologies is the largest bottleneck preventing this explosion in intensification abilities of farmers.

Currently available to farmers wishing to improve the abundance and diversity of mycorrhizal fungi are basic technologies and practices including: a diversity of mycorrhizae strain inoculants, no-tillage practices, diversification at a species, farm, and landscape level, as well as cover-cropping. In recent travels, I have discovered that some farmers are using trenches filled with logs, twigs and other organic scrap material, covered with soil. The farmers allow the material to decompose and become a rich source of fungi within the soil that can travel through the soil into areas where soil is being disturbed by harvesting practices. This allows soil that may be subjected to a decrease in fungi abundance to be quickly replenished by the nearby fungi-rich sources.

Mycorrhiza fungi and particularly AM fungi requires further research to explore its full potential but based on our current understanding, it appears that mycorrhizal knowledge and technology is the next step in organic and sustainable agricultural intensification. This revolution may provide a simple solution to increasing yields and profit per unit area, benefitting both farmers and the global population in the long term.

Retrieved from (accessed on May 13, 2019).

About the Author

Jayden Kuzdak-Hubbs is a recent graduate from the University of Toronto at Mississauga, studying environmental science and biology, with particular interests in sustainable agriculture. As part of his 4th year thesis, in August 2018, Jayden travelled to Ecuador to research the agricultural adaptations to climate change and the enhancement of agroecosystem resilience to climate impacts. Jayden continues to explore his passion by keeping up-to date on new agricultural research and seeks a career in improving the sustainability of global agriculture.


Altieri, M. A., Nicholls, C. I., Henao, A., & Lana, M. A. (2015). Agroecology and the design of climate change-resilient farming systems. Agronomy for Sustainable Development, 35(3), 869–890.

FAO, (2015). Conservation Agriculture. Available online at: ca/index.htm

Hijri, M. (2016). Analysis of a large dataset of mycorrhiza inoculation field trials on potato shows highly significant increases in yield. Mycorrhiza, 26(3), 209–214.

Parniske, M. (2008). Arbuscular mycorrhiza: The mother of plant root endosymbioses. Nature Reviews Microbiology.

Rillig, M. C., Sosa-Hernández, M. A., Roy, J., Aguilar-Trigueros, C. A., Vályi, K., & Lehmann, A. (2016). Towards an Integrated Mycorrhizal Technology: Harnessing Mycorrhiza for Sustainable Intensification in Agriculture. Frontiers in Plant Science, 7(October), 1–5.

Harvesting our first Pitahaya aka Yellow Dragon Fruit

Have you heard about the Dragon Fruit? If yes you absolutely need to try the yellow dragon fruit also locally called pitahaya in Ecuador. This is the sweetest one of the 3 different existing dragon fruits.

Last week we have finally been able to harvest the first few cactus fruits ourselves at the farm. Naturally totally organic.

Why do I need to mention this here and now? Well because 95% of the dragon fruit production is not organic. Even certified exporters use a lot of allowed chemical fertilizers. Dragon fruit production has become a extremely lucrative industry industry worldwide. Between 2006 and 2010, pitaya production has grown 6-fold. (source)

  • Fertilization—Fertilizer treatments included four treatments per year of 8N–1.3P–7.5K fertilizer at an annual rate of 380 lb/acre nitrogen, 62 lb/acre phosphorous, and 355 lb/acre of potassium. Many of the growers also applied compost and four to six minor element sprays.

  • Weed Management—Weed control treatments consisted of four applications per year of glyphosate (Roundup PowerMax®; Monsanto, St. Louis, MO) applied at a rate of 11 lb/acre per year, within rows, and four applications of pre-emergent oxadiazon (Ronstar® G; Bayers Environmental Science, Research Triangular Park, NC) applied to the containers at a rate of 8 lb/acre per year. Rows were also mowed four to six times per year at a total cost of $120/acre.

Yes. You read correctly – glyphosate 🙂 for Weed control.  Crazy (!!!) Most people buying Dragonfruit think they consume something REALLY healthy. Vegans, Fruitarians, etcetera.

U.S.–Asian population and among mainstream health-conscious U.S. consumers who are lured by the high antioxidant properties and other reported health benefits associated with the fruit.

and if they would do a lab test would find out about Glyphosate or Roundup cancer which has been classified as “probably carcinogenic” by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Now thats quite interesting with all the money that Glyphosate or Roundup is pumping into marketing and politics that still the WHO has not given them also a green card…

In the US you can buy yellow dragon fruit for a cheap as $6.- per fruit… In Ecuador the current price varies between 0.50 and 1 per fruit.

You can tell be looking at the fruit. If its really to big most likely it has been “eating” chemical fertilizers of any sort. Also go and visit the dragon fruit production areas. All the forests have been cleared for producing hectares of dragonfruit. Sadly we are still in a time when economic growth is more important than biodiversity …

Okay. Back to our farm in Ecuador. Here some photos of the first harvested yellow dragonfruits. Obviously organic 🙂

The yellow dragon fruit flower before the fruit has grown.

Growing yellow pitahaya is first green and does really look like a classic cactus.

Time to harvest once its almost yellow. You can see very little green left on the fruit on this picture.

Health Benefits of Turmeric

We planted our very first Turmeric the 5th of February 2018 at the farm. Usually it takes 7 to 10 months from planting to harvest. So we should be able to harvest soon June/July 2018.

The Scientific name of Turmeric is “Curcuma Longa” . It is also known as “Curcuma Domestica” and is popularly known as “Haldi” in India. It is a very powerful bright yellow/orange coloring spice use mostly in Indian Cuisines. Turmeric herb is full of medicinal properties and it is an excellent healing agent to cure various ailments and diseases in the body.

Turmeric herb is mostly use as a powder. Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric and have wide range of therapeutic effects. Turmeric can be use both internally and externally.

There have been two more species that are commonly seen in Turmeric :

Curcuma Aromatica – It is commonly called as Wild Turmeric or Jangali Haldi in Hindi. In Ayurveda, it is known as Van Haldi.

Curcuma Amada – It is commonly known as Mango Ginger. In ayurveda it is known as Amgandhi Haridra. Mango-ginger is neither related to mango nor ginger but to turmeric (Curcuma longa). It is a rhizome which is pale yellow inside and lighter colour outside. When it is crushed it gives sweet smell of unripe mango.

Nutrients in Turmeric :

Turmeric is a source of dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6, niacin, manganese, iron, potassium, magnesium, omega 3 fatty acids, omega 6 fatty acids and phytosterols.

  1. Good for Skin : Turmeric is natural and offers many benefits to your skin. It is one of the best and an effective natural remedy for treating spots and pigmentation, blemishes, scars or skin discoloration. The use of turmeric not only improves your complexion, the skin texture but also helps to protect against other skin ailments like eczema, acne, pimple, dry skin and psoriasis. It also hastens the process of recovery in case of smallpox, chickenpox, red rashes and other skin diseases, etc. Since, turmeric has ant-aging benefits, the use of turmeric in cosmetics and skin care products and remedies is inevitable. Turmeric helps to naturally slow the aging process, decreases the formation of deep creases and wrinkles on your face and restore youth to you. Turmeric can be use as a natural cleanser, whitener and facial masks. You can also add pinch of turmeric powder in a warm glass of milk and drink it regularly to get clean, clear and glowing skin free from acne, pimples, pigmentation, etc. For facial mask, you can mix sandalwood and milk or rose water on turmeric powder and apply it on your face to improve your skin complexion. Use it regularly to see the result. You can also apply turmeric powder mixed with cucumber juice or lemon to the affected area and leave it on for about 15-20 minutes and wash off. It will give your skin a natural healthy glow. You can also mix turmeric with little gram flour and water and use it to scrub your face or apply it all over the body before taking a bath. Turmeric is an excellent remedy for avoiding stretch marks during pregnancy. Apply turmeric and yoghurt on the belly and wash it off after 5-10 minutes and continue this process of treatemnt regularly. It will help you to maintain elasticity of skin and avoid unwanted stretch marks in your body. Turmeric is the cheapest home beauty remedy.

  2. Turmeric is Anti-Cancer : One of the main constituents of turmeric is curcumin. This curcumin is a powerful antioxidant that helps to protect against dreaded diseases like skin cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer and prostrate cancer. Curcumin content in turmeric helps the body to destroy mutated cancer cells and neutralize free radicals. It improves the immune system in the body and helps to fight cancer and tumorous growths. This aids to the prevention of cancer.

  3. Protect Against Alzheimer’s Disease : One of the main contributing factors in the development of Alzheimer’s disease is the inflammation inside of the brain. The regular consumption of turmeric helps to prevent against Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological diseases as well. Alzheimer’s disease is very uncommon in India since the population consumes turmeric in their daily diet.  A research study has shown that a compound in curry not only prevents changes in the brain that lead to Alzheimer’s disease but it actually also,  reverses some of the damage already present.

  4. Turmeric Helps Prevents Heart Diseases : Turmeric is anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and rich in vitamin B6, therefore, it helps to protect heart diseases. It can reduce the bad cholesterol in the blood which is one of the main primary causes of artery blockage and heart attacks. It can help to improve blood flow the body as well as strengthen the blood vessels and aids to treating high blood pressure.

  5. Turmeric is Anti-Inflammatory & Anti-Asthmatic : Turmeric is use as an effective natural home remedy for arthritis and asthma patients. Turmeric has a pain-relieving properties and is very helpful in reducing inflammations.  Turmeric is a great natural cure for rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. You can add 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder to a warm glass of milk and drink it 2-3 times daily empty stomach early in the morning.

  6. Turmeric is Use to Treat Digestive Disorders : Turmeric extract is good for your digestive system. Turmeric helps to stimulate production of bile in the liver and thereby improves the body’s ability to break down fats. Add turmeric into foods like rice or bean dishes, it will help you to improve the digestion system in your body, reduce the  formation of gas or acidity, heartburn and bloating. If you are suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, turmeric may help to reduce the pain and irritation. You can drink milk with turmeric to cleanse your digestive system.

  7. Turmeric Helps to Protect Against Liver Diseases : The turmeric extract can help your body to protect against damage caused by drugs or medications, effects of alcohol, nicotine and other harmful chemicals, etc by detoxifying the system. It can strengthen your immunity and help to fight against diseases like jaundice, hepatitis and cirrhosis.

  8. Turmeric Helps to Strengthen the Bones : Drink a glass of turmeric extract with warm milk every night before retiring to bed. This will help to strengthen the bones in your body and reduce the risk of developing diseases such as osteoporosis.

  9. Turmeric Helps to Treats Wounds : Turmeric is a natural antibiotic and anti-inflammatory that helps to heal wounds faster. Make a turmeric paste by adding a little water (Don’t make it watery) and apply thick on the wound or injury. Put bandage or gauze over it. Turmeric has the ability to reduce pain and inflammations. It can stop bleeding and it is an excellent antiseptic for cuts and bruises.

  10. Turmeric Helps to Treat Burns : The turmeric extract when applied on the burnt area prevents infection and helps in speedy recovery. This is an easy home-made natural remedy for burns. You can mix 1 teaspoon of turmeric with 1 teaspoon of aloevera gel and apply to the affected area. This will cool down the burning sensation and cure it naturally.

  11. Turmeric is Effective in the Treatment of Eye Disorder : Uveitis is an eye inflammation that affects white outer layer of the retina. Uveitis can be acute or chronic and it usually affects one or both the eyes. If left untreated, uveitis can lead to permanent damage to vision, including blindness. Turmeric extract may be helpful top treat inflammation of the uvea.

  12. Turmeric is Effective in the Treatment of Anemia : Turmeric is rich in iron. Therefore, it is considered as one of the best natural remedy to treat anemia. The extracted juice from the raw turmeric should be mixed with honey and consume. This will also help top repair your immune system.

  13. Good Treatment for your Hair : Turmeric is a natural hair care treatment for dandruff, as hair colorants and dyes. Turmeric plant extracts are used as hair growth stimulators.

  14. Effective in the Treatment of Cough, Cold & Flu : The antiseptic properties of turmeric extract are very  effective in the treatment of chronic coughs and sore throat. Just drink a glass of warm milk with half teaspoonful of turmeric and ginger. You can add pepper too. You can sweeten the mixture with two teaspoonful of honey. Drink this mixture twice in a day. This is one of the most effective ways to curb down the chronic cough, cold or flu. When you are irritated with the problem of running nose, inhale the smoke of turmeric roots. The smoke will help you to breathe properly and give you quicker relief. Also, caraway seeds with powdered turmeric is useful in the treatment of cold. This remedy is very much beneficial for infants.

  15. Female Related Health Problems : Turmeric is antispasmodic. Turmeric extract helps to reduce the severity of painful menstrual cramps or dysmenorrhea.

  16. Effective Against Worms, Bacteria, Virus & Fungus : Regular use of turmeric extract can help you prevent against worms, bacteria, virus and fungus that can otherwise cause food poisoning, diarrhea, scabies, dysentery, smallpox and other related diseases. The compound, Curcumin, showed immense therapeutic potential against H. pylori, herpes simplex, hepatitis B, salmonella and Candida infections. Turmeric is diuretic and hence, it is effective against the treatment of urinary tract disorders. One of the best natural home remedy to expel worms from the body is by consuming raw turmeric juice with a dash of salt in the early morning hours or you can mix the dry turmeric powder with butter milk or plain warm water and drink it. This will kill the intestinal worms and protect the muscles of the intestine.

  17. Turmeric is Anti-Diabetes : The presence of curcumin in turmeric helps to keep blood sugar level in check and prevent the onset of Type-2 Diabetes. Ayurvedic System of Medicine uses turmeric as one of the ingredients to treat diabetes since it lowers the blood sugar and increases the glucose metabolism. Therefore, easy and simple preventive measure to treat diabetes is take 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder twice a day with meals.


Curcumin extracts or capsules are also available in the market. You can use it as an alternative to the powder.



Turmeric can be use as a dyeing agent. The cloths worn during rituals in Indian ceremonies are dyed with turmeric. Yellow color is considered as sacred and auspicious color in India. The cloths dyed in turmeric are considered pure.



Paste – It is applied on wounds and injuries. It is also used on skin related ailments, itching and burns. It fairs the skin texture. It also helps n promoting healing and it also lightens the scars on the body. It is also applied on abdomen in case of hepatomegaly and splenomegaly. It is also used in applying on piles.


Smoke – Smoke of turmeric is helpful in relieving from respiratory infections and disorder. It is also used in suppressing pain in case of scorpion poisoning.

Powder and Juice Extract – Its powder is used in suppressing pains in case of any external injuries. It is also used in nervous weakness. It regulates the digestive activities of the body and prevents tastelessness, indigestion and constipation. It strengthens the liver and prevents jaundice. It also has good role in asicitis. It is very beneficial in worm infestation. It purifies blood and also regulates blood production and hence given in anemia. It is very effective in case of allergy of any sort. It is good in case of throat infection and respiratory disorders. It is very useful in diabetes. It is also helpful in all kinds of fever especially chronic one. It is also helpful in poisoning and general body weakness.

Herbal medicine: Leonotis Nepetifolia – Klip Dagga

Leonotis leonurus (L.) R. Br. is a shrub belonging to the Lamiaceae (mint) family, which comprises of about 3,200 species in 200 genera. L. leonurus is commonly called ‘wild dagga’ or ‘lion ear’. and is found in tropical Asia, Africa and southern India. The plant stems emanates from a thick wood base. The green leaves are opposite each other on the stems and have abundant glandular trichomes on the leaf lamina. The plant produce orange, apricot or white flowers in clusters and the hairy flowers a resemble lion’s ears, hence the name “leonurus (lion coloured)”. The flowers produce nectar which attracts birds, bees and butterflies. The fruits are 2 mm nutlets. All the plant parts have a strong mint smell similar to other Lamiaceae species.

At the permatree farm the lovely hummingbirds seem to be hooked on  the nectar of the Klip Dagga, we can see them daily visiting the plant.

Klip Dagga – Leonotis Nepetifolia

Klip Dagga - Leonotis Nepetifolia

Leonotis nepetifolia can grow from the southern tip of the Appalachian Mountains to Florida, and from Texas to the Atlantic Ocean. To grow in these areas, however, they need mostly full sun, moist soil, and high humidity. Extended periods of below freezing temperatures will kill this plant.


Klip Dagga - Leonotis Nepetifolia

Traditional uses of the Klip Dagga

L. leonurus has many reputed traditional medicinal applications and is mainly taken orally or per rectum and as a topical application. Hottentots were particularly fond of smoking it instead of tobacco and used a decoction of the leaf as a strong purgative and as an emmenagogue. Early colonialists employed it in the treatment of leprosy. The leaf tea has a hypnotic effect, is diuretic and relieves headache. The leaf and stem decoction or inhalations have been used internally for cough, common cold, influenza, bronchitis, wound healing and asthma. The fresh stem juice is an infusion drunk for ‘blood impurity’. The infusions made from flowers and seeds, leaves or stems are widely used as tonics for tuberculosis, jaundice, muscular cramps, high blood pressure, diabetes, viral hepatitis, dysentery, and diarrhoea. Tea made from the whole plant is used for arthritis, piles, bladder and kidney disorder, obesity, cancer and rheumatism. The leaves and stems decoction are applied topically as a treatment for eczema, skin infections and itchiness. The leaves, roots and bark are widely used as an emetic for snakebites, bee and scorpion stings. The L. Leonurus smoke has marijuana-like effects.-pungent odour and is occasionally mixed with flowers and fruits. In ethnoveterinary the roots and leaves water drink is used in poultry, against cattle gall sickness and eye inflammation. Generally the plant is a general tonic, having reputed dermatological, hypertension, anti- inflammatory, pain and wound healing properties.

On the island of Trinidad the leaves are brewed as a tea for fever, coughs, womb prolapse and malaria. Sense it contains compounds that produce sedative effects it is utilized as a sedative in alternative medicine. This species is also known for its antispasmodic effects and appears to inhibit acetylcholine and histamine which is why it’s considered a natural anti-histamine. Antispasmodic is a term that refers to herbs, substances, drugs, compounds, or medicines that suppress muscle spasms.

Wild dagga is also much respected in the treatment of animals. The Tswana, Zulu and Xhosa make a strong brew of leaves, flowers and stems to use as an enema in sheep, goats and cattle, as well as humans. This brew is given to animals with respiratory problems and applied as a lotion to sores on stock and dogs, and as a wash for wounds, scratches, bites and stings.

The Zulu people use the root for snakebite and they sprinkle a concoction of the plant around their houses to keep snakes away. The Zulu and Xhosa make a strong brew of the leaves and use as a poultice for snakebites. They also use a tincture of the root bark internally for snake bite.


Cyclooxygenase (COX-1) inhibition was consistent for up to 1 year (92% inhibition) of plant material storage, while the inhibition deteriorated rapidly when the plant ageing process was accelerated. The flowering parts ethanol and chloroform extracts show strong hepatoprotective and anti- inflammatory activities in rats. The leaf and stems extracts (methanol and water) and essential oils also indicated anti- inflammation activity using the 5-lipoxygenase assay. The inflammatory cascade is complex and diverse, hence the need to do bioactivity guided fractionation to establish simpler fractions that exert COX-1, 5-lipoxygenase and antioxidant activity rather than isolating molecules that show a singular property. It is also common phenomena to find extracts that exert better activities than their purified components. Therefore, simple fractions would enable other pharmacological effects on a number of targets involved in effective trans-membrane drug delivery and place high concentrations of the active agent at the pathophysiologically relevant site. The dose ranges for the anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties are 25-75 mg/ml.

Klip Dagga in a nutshell

This literature survey of the phytochemistry, pharmacological and traditional applications of Leonotis leonurus L. R. has shown that the plant has diverse activities such as anticonvulsant, antinociceptive, anti-inflammatory, antidiabetic, antibacterial, anti-oxidant, anthelmintic activities and hypoglycemic properties, which justifies the herb use in the management and control of pain, arthritic, diabetes, dermatological, hypertension, anti-inflammatory and wound healing properties. Thirty seven secondary metabolites were reported, which includes 21 labdane diterpenes which are chemotaxonomic markers for the Leonotis genus and the mint family, Lamiaceae. The leaf, flowers and sepals essential oils are mostly constituted by monoterpenoids and sesquiterpenoids. The isolation of metabolites responsible for extracts activities is recommended and the data on clinical trials about the Leonotis leonurus herb and its extracts is of fundamental importance.

Interesting Bamboo Facts

Most of the +400 bamboo plants growing at PermaTree have been growing well and even better since we keep them clean from the fast growing pasture grass 🙂 For of our tropical permaculture soil improvement goal we have been implementing bamboo. Not only bamboo grass but mainly bamboo grass and vetiver grass. Both are very interesting to restore poor soil and keep soil erosion and run off to something from the past.

For you to enjoy some bamboo photos of the Giant Bamboo leafs as well as the Bamboo Bicolor leafs. Most plants still need a few year to grow mature about 7.5 years but some of them are already producing lots of leaves and those leaves are helping to mulch the soil.

BTW Did you know that Bamboo is one of the most exploited plants on the planet because its cultivation doesn’t require too much effort.

More interesting Facts about Bamboo:

permatree Bamboo - Dendrocalamus Asper aka Giant Bamboo

Did you know that Bamboo is … produces more oxygen than a tree?!

Bamboo absorbs carbon dioxide and emits 30% more oxygen into the atmosphere than its tree equivalent?


Did you know that Bamboo is … Food?!

Bamboo shoots have been a staple food source for thousands of years, especially in the Asian culture. Bamboo shoots are low in fat and calories. It is also an excellent source of fiber and potassium. One serving of bamboo shoots provides 10% of your daily recommended intake. Young shoots of bamboo contain toxin called taxiphyllin. Because of that, bamboo needs to be cooked (high temperature destroys toxin) before consumption.

Did you know that Bamboo is … Antibacterial?!

Bamboo as a plant in nature is actually antibacterial, and has the ability to withstand some of the most vociferous bacteria out there.  Bamboo contains a natural bio-agent known as Bamboo Kun. Bamboo Kun is naturally anti-bacterial. It is so effective that it eliminates and prevents over 70% of bacteria that attempt to grow on it, whether this be in its natural or fabric form.  Bamboo does not require any pesticides or chemical fertilizers for healthy growth. It is seldom eaten by pests or infected with pathogens as a result of the Bamboo Kun.

permatree Bamboo - Dendrocalamus Asper aka Giant Bamboo - Close up green bamboo leaf

Did you know that Bamboo … Flowers ?!

Flowers of bamboo are rarely seen. Some species of bamboo develop flowers after 65 or 120 years. Interesting fact about flowering is that all plants of one bamboo species develop flowers at the same time, no matter where they are located in the world.

Did you know that Bamboo is … fast growing?!

Bamboo is the fastest growing plant on this planet. It is the only plant left in the race of matching human consumption and deforestation. Bamboo is one of the fastest-growing plants in the world, and some species can grow up to 90 cm or 35 inches per day. One of the most amazing quality of bamboo is its ability renew growth. Even after a harvest new shoots will grow out in no time. That’s over 1.5″ (3.8cm) in one hour!! No other plant on earth can do this.

Did you know that Bamboo is … for controlling soil erosion?!

Bamboo is very successful in controlling soil erosion. Even after the shoots are cut the amazing root system ensures that the soil remains intact. Bamboo had been found to be useful in controlling landslides, land degradation and soil mass movement. It can also improve the quality, moisture and stability of the soil.

Did you know that Bamboo is … Kind to the Environment?!

When bamboo is harvested, it will continue to grow new shoots from its amazing root system. There is no additional planting or cultivation. Bamboo requires no chemicals, pesticides or fertilizer to grow and thrive. It’s very own fallen leaves provide the necessary nutrients that get recycled back into the soil.  Every part of the plant can be utilized in one way or another with zero waste. After the bamboo material has reached it’s life span, it can be recycled back into our good earth.


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.



The plant nursery

Arriving in El Pangui canton Zamora Chinchipe we have lost no time and started right away with a plant nursery (A nursery is a place where plants are propagated and grown to usable size). Our food forest plant-wish-list is growing (see the list below. Currently about 147 different names… Most of them are of course fruit plants but many vegetables and of many herbs. Also so called “árboles maderables” aka timber trees. We are focusing on local plants but are also taking advantage of the tropical climate to grow and plant bamboo and all the known tropical plants here. One of the more challenging task here has been to get the seeds! Its crazy most people dont grow anything. The best way is buying the fruit / vegetable and planting it later directly.

Photos from the plant nursery

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Plants we already have in the nursery

Jinjibre – Ginger
Coco palms
Tobacco plant
Hierba Luisa Grass
Tutuma / Bototo
Garlic – Ajo
Cabagge – Cool
Red “Grayseed”
Cucumbre – Cucumber
Jarasillo – timber tree
Pulmera Euterpe

Food forest wish-list

// FRUITS – Frutas
Annona (Annonaceae)
Araza – Arazá (Eugenia stipitata)
Banana – Guineo (Musa × paradisiaca)
Red dacca banana – Guineo moreno (Musa acuminata (AAA Group) ‘Red Dacca’.)
Cacao – Cocoa (Theobroma cacao)
Lemon – Limon (Citrus × limon)
Lime? – Limoncillo (Melicoccus bijugatus)
Lulo – Naranjilla (Solanum quitoense)
Grapefruit – Pomelo (Citrus x paradisi)
Tree Tomato / Tamarillo – Tomate de árbol (Solanum betaceum, Syn. Cyphomandra betacea)
Borojo – borojó (Borojoa patinoi)
Papaya – Mamon (Carica papaya)
Mountain Papaya – Babaco (Vasconcellea x heilbornii; sin. Carica pentagona)
Passion fruit – Maracuyá (Passiflora edulis)
Jackfruit – árbol de jaca / yaca o panapén (Artocarpus heterophyllus)
Soursop – Guanábana (Annona muricata)
Chirimuya – Chirimoya (Annona cherimola)
Durian – durián (Durio zibethinus)
Sweet granadilla or grenadia – Granadilla (Passiflora ligularis)
Abiu – Caimito (Pouteria caimito)
Noni – gunábana cimarrona, fruta del diablo (Morinda citrifolia)
Peach – Melocoton (Prunus persica)
Pineapple – Piña (Ananas comosus)
Pitahaya – pitahaya (Cactus fruit)
Purple mangosteen – (Garcinia mangostana)
Rhubarb – Ruibarbo (Rheum rhabarbarum)
Grape – Uva (Vitis vinifera subsp. vinifera)
Star fruit – Carambola (Averrhoa carambola)
Mango / melocotón de los trópicos (Mangifera indica)
Orange – Naranja (Citrus x sinensis)
Salak – Snakefruit (Salacca zalacca)
Peruvian cherry – Uchuva (Physalis peruviana)
Pumpkin – Zapallo / Calabaza (Cucurbita pepo)
Sapote – Zapote (tzapotl)

// VEGETABLES – Verduras
Avocado – Aguacate, Palta (Persea americana)
Beans – Frijoles y Porotos (Phaseolus vulgaris)
Carrot – Zanahoria (Daucus carota)
Chia (Salvia hispanica)
Cabbage – Col, Repollo (Brassica oleracea var. capitata)
Corn – Mais / Choclo (Maize)
Onion – Cebolla (Allium cepa)
Garlic – Ajo (Allium)
Ginger – Jengibre (Zingiber officinale)
Potatoes – papa o patata (Solanum tuberosum)
Pepper – pimiento (Capsicum annum)
Pumpkin – Calabaza gigante (Cucurbita pepo)
West Indian pumpkin – Calabaza (Cucurbita moschata)
Tomatos – Tomate (Solanum lycopersicum)
Tiny tomato – Tomate de selva – (Lycopersicon esculentum)
Tumeric – Cúrcuma (Curcuma zedoaria)
Radishes – Rábanos (Raphanus sativus)
Quinoa – Quinua (Chenopodium quinoa)
Yuca – Manioc (Manihot esculenta)
Zucchini – calabacín (Cucurbita pepo subsp. pepo convar. giromontiina)
Spinach – Espinacas (Spinacia oleracea)
Fennel – Hinojo (Foeniculum vulgare)
Chili pepper – Chile / Pimiento / ají (Capsicum)

// HERBS – Hierbas
Basil – Basilikum – Albahaca (Ocimum basilicum)
Caña de azúcar – Saccharum officinarum
Lemongrass – Hierbaluisa (Cymbopogon)
Vanilla – Vainilla (Vanilla planifolia)
Aloe Vera – Sábila / Alóe (Aloe)
Camille – Manzanilla (Chamaemelum nobile)
Peppermint – Menta (Mentha × piperita, also known as M. balsamea Willd)
Oregano – orégano (Origanum vulgare)
Rosemary – Romero (Rosmarinus)
Lavender – Lavanda (Lavandula angustifolia)
Maggy herb – Levístico o hierba maggi (Levisticum officinale)
Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana)
Coffee – Cafe
Tea – Tee
Coca (Erythroxylum novogranatense var. novogranatense) the legal version.
Yerba Mate (Ilex paraguariensis)
Cannabis / Marihuana (Cannabis sativa, Cannabis sativa forma indica, Cannabis ruderalis) the legal version.
Cha / Cháhuā – planta de té (Camellia sinensis)

Canela – Árbol de la canela (Cinnamomum verum)
Tutuma – Bototo (Ecuador) – “Calabash Tree” (Crescentia cujete)
Baobab (Adansonia digitata) Africa
Moringa (Moringa oleifera) Africa
Laurel (Laurus nobilis)
Cedar – Cedro (Cedrus libani )
Cockspur coral tree – Ceibo (Erythrina crista-galli)
Guayacay – guayaco (Guaiacum officinale)
Erythrina – El árbol del porotillo (Erythrina velutina)
Quickstick – mata ratón / madre cacao (Gliricidia sepium)
Ischnosiphon – Guarumo, casupo o tirite (Ischnosiphon arouma)
Saman – Samanea saman, samán, tamarindo (Albizia saman)
Rubber tree – árbol del caoutchouc (Hevea brasiliensis)
Balsa – Arbol de Balsa (Ochroma pyramidale)
Sauce – Salix (Salix caprea)
Podocarpus – Intimpa (Podocarpus glomeratus)
Sangre de drago
Palo Santo (Bursera graveolens)
Sangre de drago (racaena drace)
Forestiera – Forestiera ecuadorensis (Oleaceae)
Olive – árboles de olivo negro (Olea europaea)
Teak – Teca (Tectona grandis)
Vegetable ivory – Tagua palma (Phytelephas macrocarpa)
Guayacán, madera negra (Tabebuia bilbergii)
Amarillo (Centrolubium Ochroxilmi)
Brazilian fern tree – Pachaco / guapuruvú (Schizolubium parabybon)
white teak – Melina / gamhar (Gmelina arborea)
Balsa – Ochroma lagopus — Sierra humedo tropical, 5nos
Seique / Tornillo (Cedrelinga cateniformis)
Cutanga – Parkia multijuga— Bosque montanoso seco
Guarango – Parkia nitida — Bosque montanose seco
Jacaranda – Jacaranda capais — Bosque montanose seco
Mani de arbol – Cariodendrum orinosesis — Oriente, bosque muy humedo tropical
Pigue – Pollalista kaustenil — Oriente, bosque muy humedo tropical
Sangre de Drago – Crotom s.p — Oriente, bosque muy humedo tropical
Balsa – Ochroma lagopus — Sierra humedo tropical, 5nos
Laurel – Cordial alliodora — Sierra, bosque humedo tropical, 18anos
Caoba – Swintenia macrophylla — Costa, bosque seco, 25anos
Causarina – Causarina eguisetifolia — Costa, bosque seco, 25anos
Flanboyan – Delonix regia — Costa, bosque seco
Guapan – Minguaitin guianensis — Costa, bosque seco
Leucaena – Leucaena leucocephala — Costa, bosque seco
Acacia fistula – Clarisla recemosa
Algarrobo – Prosopis inemis
Nin – Azadirechte indica

// NUTS – Nueces/Nuts
Coconut – Coco
Brazil nut – nuez amazónica (Bertholletia excelsa)
Chontaduro (nut)
Inca-peanut – maní del Inca / maní jíbaro (Plukenetia volubilis)

and more …