Pietro's introduction

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself Here' started by Pietro, Aug 13, 2009.

  1. Pietro

    Pietro Junior Member

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    Hello everybody,
    new to the board. Post number 1.

    So my name is Pietro, I live in Portugal but I come from Italy. I recently bought some land in Portugal with an old house. I am now looking for ways to transform the land into a Forest Garden. I am very fond of permaculture, and forest garden ideas. But I also like the Fukuoka style of permaculture (I am probably just a lazy).

    First of all I am looking for a good board on permaculture; where do Europeans discuss online? Here? (I see only the map of the US and Australia)
    Also are there boards specific for specific permaculture practices (like forest gardening and seed bombing) or are we all together?

    As I am totally new to this community and quite new to permaculture I would like to be given direction to the right board.

    Thanks.
    Pietro

    Oh, yes, I am also a Taoist, which blends nicely with my Permaculture interests.
     
  2. pippimac

    pippimac Junior Member

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    Re: Pietro's introduction

    Hi Piero
    Ah... those flags/maps; hopefully they'll disappear soon...
    The (dry) Australian climate's probably pretty similar to yours- you've even got a ton of eucalypts don't you? I'm in New Zealand and it's very different. Just use your common-sense; ignore or adapt ideas as you see fit.
    By the way, there's at least one other person on this site who lives in Portugal- do a search and you'll find them...
     
  3. Pietro

    Pietro Junior Member

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    Re: Pietro's introduction

    Hi, thanks for the answer.

    Yes there are a lot of eucalyptus. But on the other side of the hill. They are non native from here, and are really absorbing the water from the terrain. So much that I am wondering if once the eucalyptus on the other side has come to age and will be cut (to make them into paper) I should see if they are interested in selling that property. It's not that big, it shouldn't cost too much, but the eucalyptus there are taking away the water that is also at the base of my property. And that is not so cool. Most people around here don't really care of the long term state of the land (or so it seems), and are happpy to plant eucaliptus becuase they grow fast and give you back lost of money, even if the land gets desertified in the process.

    On the land that I bought there are mostly pines. I don't know which specific type. I have been told that they make the earth acidic, and that they mostly create an eenvironemnt where only pines can easily grow. So my first quest will be how to get out of this silly acidic spiral. To do this I need to
    a) find out what plants were native from here
    b) find out what plants are already on my land
    c) find what plants can survive an acidic terrain, and make it more alkaline.

    And probably the c is the most important.

    Cheers,
    Pietro
     
  4. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    Re: Pietro's introduction

    Welcome! The board is very inclusive - doesn't matter where you are from, how experienced you are and what style of permaculture you like. Just leap in!
    We even let New Zealanders get in apparently! :lol:
     
  5. WolfJag

    WolfJag Junior Member

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    Re: Pietro's introduction

    Hello Pietro!
    I do live in Portugal as well. Where are you located? The pines on your property are, most probably, Pinus pinaster, also known over here as "pinheiro bravo". Are they fully grown? I have no idea of your whereabouts, but I would believe that gradually you could replace most of them with broad leaved trees like oaks, chestnuts and so on..
     
  6. Pietro

    Pietro Junior Member

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    Re: Pietro's introduction

    Hi WolfJag,
    nice to meet you.

    I am 10 minutes from Coimbra. South East.
    Where are you?

    I will start to add pics quite soon I am even thinking about putting the plans online so that I can receive ideas and suggestions.
    There are so many things to do.
    Great idea about the Oaks and Chestnuts!

    I also heard that there is an organization here in Portugal of Volunteers that will plant native trees in your property if you just feed them. It's too early for that, but I think it might be a deal breaker!

    By the way, yesterday evening I found the list from Burray on Amazon and ordered some books that should help me to understand the local flora.

    Cheers,
    Pietro

    EDIT: Took away solved question
     
  7. Pietro

    Pietro Junior Member

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    Re: Pietro's introduction

    Thanks eco,
    how was it?
    :wink:
     
  8. Burra Maluca

    Burra Maluca Junior Member

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    Re: Pietro's introduction

    Welcome Pietro!

    I have bad news for you about the eucalyptus unfortunately. They regrow when they are cut and are on a ten year cycle, so it's unlikely that the land will come up for sale after they are cut. The land-owners are usually under contract by the paper mills and might not be able to sell even if they wanted to. They also give out a chemical which inhibits growth of other plants so it's difficult to establish much near them, though some of the aussie acacias might work if only I can get any of the seeds to grow... Also a tip about buying land from the Portuguese - they have a strange attitude to selling and values. If you let it be known that you want to buy land, the locals will eventually come forward and have a mini price war to tempt you to buy their bit. If, on the other hand, you approach them to ask a price, they will ask a fortune. We bought four hectares below our farm for €6000 last year, but the owner of the land above wanted €150 000!

    I'm not sure that pine forest really does turn the soil acidic, though it's true that they will grow on acidic land. Our land has loads of 'weeds' that are supposed to indicate acid soil, but when we tested the soil it was almost neutral. It might be worth investing in a soil testing kit and checking the actual pH value rather than just guessing as it might not be the problem you think it is. Also, in my bit of Portugal we have some patches of native pine, which I love actually, and also huge plantations of some other type of pine to supply wood for fenceposts and building work. If you have the 'plantation' sort, there will almost certainly be a saw mill nearby you can raid for supplies of sawdust and bark, usually free unless you want a whole lorry-load.

    I've been experimenting trying to grow 'nurse trees' to give a bit of shade, but haven't had much luck yet. The best trees we've grown have been peaches grown from seed - they have grown faster and stronger and bushier than *any* of the nurse trees we've tried. I'm going to try apricots and plums and cherries from seed too to see if they are as successful. Jackie French's book The Wilderness Garden said that fruit trees grown from seed send down a much deeper root system and survive drought better, and if my experience is anything to go by she's right. I think there's going to be a lot of peaches and apricots in my food forest...

    As for conserving ground-water, think mulch (straw if you can find it, or pine needles raided from the forest, or pine bark if you have a saw-mill nearby), and also things like drip-irrigation (I'm still dreaming of this, but if you have electricity, clean water, and the money for the pipe-work), swales and berms. This year I'm hoping to dig some small trenches on contour just above where I'm going to plant any new fruit trees, fill the hole with anything 'spongy' I can find, like cardboard, sawdust, newspapers rescued from the village skip, and hopefully surplus rainwater will fill the hole and soak in instead of running off. I'm going to use the soil from the hole to make a raised 'berm' in an arc below where the tree is to be planted, with the two ends level with each other, so that any surface water is held in place for as long as possible, then mulch the area as thoroughly as I can to stop evaporation. The mulch will eventually rot down, especially as the area is holding more water, and enrich the soil. The problem with water in Portugal is that the soil tends to be very poor, not helped by the way the locals constantly plough up the land to reduce the fire risk. Poor soils do not hold water, so you need to slow runoff to give it a chance to get in, and also do what you can to reduce evaporation, either by shade or mulch, or both. Humus in soil breaks down in high temperatures, so the more you can stop the sun's rays hitting the soil the better. Dryland is defined as a place where evaporation exceeds rainfall - reduce evaporation and your land becomes *much* less dry!

    So far, I haven't found a better place than this for europeans to talk permaculture. I do post on the aussieslivingsimply site, but I'd like to get this forum much more active for us europeans! Please ask me anything you like - my place is still very much a work in progress, but by sharing ideas and experiences we can help each other along and avoid us all having to make the same mistakes. I
     
  9. Pietro

    Pietro Junior Member

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    Re: Pietro's introduction

    Hello Burra,
    so I got it right that we are in three members living in Portugal on this board.

    I am actually quite impressed by how things changed in the short time I was here.

    Already WolfJag suggested that the Pines are Pinus Pinaster.

    Then looking at some posts on the board I found your list https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/richpub/listmania/fullview/R2KVLTRVH4JY31/ref=cm_pdp_lm_title_2 of books from amazon, and I placed an ordered.

    Then looking at another post I found
    https://www.wikigardens.com
    which hosts a really cool advanced search. Through this I could read the description of the pinus pinaster, and what was even more important I could make a search for the plants that could be used to substitute the pines. (our is plant hardiness 9, right?)

    Now the next question would be, once you have selected a plant, how do you get hold of it? Are there services where you can order some seeds of plants?

    This afternoon, when the sun started lowering, and it was not that hot anymore, I went to take some pictures in the back of the house. As I mentioned on the back of the house there is a hill, and I am responsible up to the ridge of the hill. About a quarter of it is covered in Pines, there are some fruit trees (mostly left by themselves, I could find 2 pears, some rosberries, probably a tree that was producing tiny peaches, and some others. And then for the rest there are bushes, ferns, and other not better identified plants.

    So I took the pictures, and I organised a space in my website to upload them. I am thinking of making a (sub-)website for this permaculture project (plus the renovation of the house). Maybe with a blog, a wiki and a place for the pictures. The aim is to gather suggestions on how to solve problems in a green, permaculture, simple, way. It should help me to find the solutions, and then it would remain as a documet for people later on who are facing similar problems.

    The pictures I took today are here:
    https://permedia.house.project.pietrosperoni.it/index.php?album=up-the-hill

    But generally I intend to put all the pictures here:
    https://permedia.house.project.pietrosperoni.it/

    My aim was just to take some pictures of the pines, to make sure they are ndeed Pinus Pinaster. But then while I was there I was submerged by plants that I also wanted to photograph, and maybe discover what they are.

    Please as you go through the pictures, if you see any plant that you recognise, just leave me a comment on the picture, telling me what is what. This would really be helpful!


    By the way, where are you based? Are you very far from Coimbra?
     
  10. WolfJag

    WolfJag Junior Member

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    Re: Pietro's introduction

    Hello Pietro,
    I'm based not very far from Porto, so not that far from Coimbra.
    Burra is right about what she said about eucalyptus tree production and the paper mill business. You get the chance, though, you can get rid of these pesky trees for good in 2 ways: either you pluck them from the ground, roots included, which might be very expensive especially if they are fully matured trees (which isn't usually the case with paper mill trees) or you can cut them at waist high and that way they won't come back. You'll have a bunch of tall stumps all over your land for a few years, but that's a small price to pay.
    I've checked your website and yes, those are Pinus pinaster, no doubt about it. The other plants on the pics do look familiar, but I have no idea what they might be, sorry!

    Burra's library is just awesome! More than enough to get your mouth watering!

    By the way, I've posted a small comment on your site, so I think now you have my email contact.
     
  11. Pietro

    Pietro Junior Member

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    Re: Pietro's introduction

    Thank you. Then I should give a pic to the plant wiki library above.

    I think I can find the portuguese name for the plant in https://permedia.house.project.pietrosperoni.it/index.php?album=up-the-hill&image=15082009503.jpg

    Maybe once we have the portuguese name we can find out more. What I remember I was told was that it was not good (even poisonus). And it was not even good for animals.

    One of the books arrived today:
    Plant Life in the World's Mediterranean Climates.

    I started looking at it, It's really cool. More about it when I read it.

    Also, shall we start a thread about Portugal?
    A local thread where we ask questions like: where can you find xxx, I just found yyy.

    Then we can all ask to receive emails when there are updates and not only are we keeping in touch, but if new members arrive while we are distracted, we wouldb easily find.

    Pietro
     
  12. Burra Maluca

    Burra Maluca Junior Member

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    Re: Pietro's introduction

    I've posted a couple of comments for you too.

    I think starting a thread for Portugal would be a brilliant idea - it would make it easier for anyone new to find all our accumulated wisdom - or more like a collection of all our mistakes if my own experience is anything to go by. My list of books isn't definitive, by the way, it's just the best of the ones I've found so far. Any further suggestions gratefully received. I live just south of Castelo Branco, within walking distance of the railway, but we are a bit up to our eyballs in things at the moment as uncle isn't too well so if you want to visit to compare notes you'll have to take us as you find us, chaos included.
     
  13. Pietro

    Pietro Junior Member

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    Re: Pietro's introduction

    Thanks Burra, I will start the Portugal thread asap.

    Don't worry about being busy right now. Surely taking care of your uncle is much more important. It is good to see we are not too far one from the other. But then we can meet in any moment. BTW, my father is coimng to visit me tomorrow from Italy, and then as he leaves my gf arrives.

    I did read your comments, thanks. I also answered one of them. Please let me know if you receive a notice for that. I am new to that pic software, so I need to understand what are its capabilities, for example can it host local conversations?
     
  14. Burra Maluca

    Burra Maluca Junior Member

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    Re: Pietro's introduction

    Yes, our plant hardiness is 9. As far as I can tell though, it only refers to minimum winter temperatures and doesn't allow for the really hot dry summers we get, so not all zone 9 plants will like it here. As for finding the plants you want, I think it pays to have a very flexible 'planing list'. I travel down to Plantula in Torres Novas, about an hour and a half's drive away, to buy bare-rooted fruit trees in the winter. They are much, much cheaper than the ones you buy in pots and they have a pretty good range to choose from, but only from arount mid-December onwards. The owner also knows all the varieties and if you tell her you want, say, eight different types of apple, with a long growing season (epoca), she will help you choose appropriate varieties. I find it pays to carry a book with the latin names of garden plants around with me if I find a garden centre to try to figure out what is what, and also you can show names and pictures to the staff and they sometimes recognise the plants and find them for you.

    I also send off for loads of seed from Australia - ebay is a good source. Lots of them never grow, and I haven't found a reliable source of good compost to grow them in so sometimes they just keep over before they really get going, but I keep trying. I have a few tagasaste (not enough to share yet, but maybe in a year or two), and a couple of 'pea trees' and different acacias.

    Oh, and about getting rid of eucalyptus. In my experience the sort that grow around here *do* grow back if you cut them at waist hight. My son chopped a load down with a machete (he's that age when he enjoys doing things like that...) and we have to keep cutting back the re-growth every few weeks. I'm hoping that they'll give up eventually. Someone told us that if you hammer a copper nail into them they will die, but we haven't tried that yet.
     
  15. Pietro

    Pietro Junior Member

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    Re: Pietro's introduction

    Hello Burra, how interesting. Maybe one time when you go down to Torres Novas I could come as well. I would then learn where the place is, and maybe even get some plants myself.

    I have been working hard on the website. My hope is to put up a website where I can present the various ideas about the house (and the land), as well as get feedbacks, and suggestions. I want to manage the land with permaculture, and the house with vaguely sustainable methods. By vaguely I mean, that I have no intention to be super strict. For example, I use a washing machine, to wash my clothes. And I do intend to keep on buying all the food that I cannot grow.
    I am very interested in your experiments with the seeds. Did you manage to get any plant at all? I think it is impossible that they radiates every single seed that comes in. Do they know that they are seeds? Maybe it is just the coldness in the travel. But the seeds should survive.

    In any case the website is at https://house.pietrosperoni.it
    I have already moved to pictures, although I could not move the comments. Also now it is not possible to comment picture by picture, but I intend to play with the tags, and have a post for each topic. Right now I have two posts, one on the pinus pinaster, and one on the tanks and tubes. Although the website is a wordpress (a blog engine) I intend not to use it much as a blog, but as a CMS. Mostly because I know the software quite well.

    Please let me know, if you think this is a bit better than the previous solutions.

    Regards,
    Pietro
     
  16. Burra Maluca

    Burra Maluca Junior Member

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    Re: Pietro's introduction

    We've imported some batches of seed that have done well and others, sometimes from the same supplier, that have been total failures, so it could be that some get irradiated at random and others get through ok. I have a few tagasaste, but the first batch were in bad compost and we lost most of them, and the second batch were total failures where not one seed germinated. We have two healthy plants which we are nurturing carefully! If they do well, we should have seed available in a year or two. We also had two pea-trees germinate, but they are struggling and very small - they have leaves which can be used as fodder, and the seeds can be eaten like lentils. I've no idea if they'll survive. We also have a few types of acacia which are nitrogen fixing and fast growers, but so far we haven't had any luck with any of the sorts that can be used as animal feed. Also some kind of 'tomato tree'.

    I think you are sensible not to be too strict on yourself, especially at the beginning. I had dreams of living out of the garden with no washing machine, too, but when uncle wanted to move with us we had to compromise things somewhat. Eventually most of our food *will* be home grown, but it takes a long time to reach that stage, especially if your soil needs building up and you need to learn how to grow in this climate. This time of year is easy for washing though. If you stand bottles of water outside in the sun, it will be warm enough to wash in. You can even arrange a really simple shower by hanging a bucket with holes in from a tree! We built a shower room which is fed from a tank through a black pipe which is coiled on the roof. It's a very simple system which works well!
     
  17. sam

    sam Junior Member

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    Re: Pietro's introduction

    Hello Pietro, It's me from the tao, I hope you have found good help here.
     
  18. Pietro

    Pietro Junior Member

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    Re: Pietro's introduction

    Hi Sam, welcome.
    I knew that sooner or later you would have joined here ;-)

    Since you are doing all those big workshops, it would be interesting if you were to write a review on them :)

    Cheers,
    Pietro
     
  19. Grahame

    Grahame Senior Member

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    Re: Pietro's introduction

    Hello Sam, What do you mean when you say you are from the tao? As in Tao Te Ching? I ask because I am quite the fan of Lao-tzu's works :)

    Grahame
     
  20. milifestyle

    milifestyle New Member

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    Re: Pietro's introduction

    Moved topic to introductions forum...
     

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