Paul Alfrey

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Hi I’m Paul,

Originally from the UK I moved over to Bulgaria with my family 12 years ago and set up the Balkan Ecology Project. Prior to that, I worked as a freelance Arborist in the UK for 15 years. Balkan Ecology Project is a family project run by myself, Sophie and our two boys Dylan and Archie, and supported by the amazing volunteers we have hosted here over the years. We aim to develop and promote practices that provide nutritious affordable food while enhancing biodiversity and work to achieve this by:

– Researching, designing and implementing systems on the ground
– Providing working examples of our designs at our sites open for the public to visit
– Providing quality education and training to aspiring growers and landscapers
– Providing consultancy and design for landowners and farmers across Europe
– Practicing an open source policy, whereby we disseminate our results freely and share all aspects of our work
– Growing, selling and promoting the use of plants and plant communities that have high ecological and nutritional value

Our activities currently include: Biological Plant Nursery, Educational Courses, Local Land Stewardship, Polyculture Research, Market Gardening​, and Consultancy and Design.

Trees for Bees

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Trees are an important, stable source of food for bees and other pollinators providing thousands of flower heads all in one place.

I could go on and list their other virtues but the fact you’re on my blog leads me to assume that you already have a pretty good appreciation of both trees and bees so let’s get straight to the point of this post and find out which trees attract bees.

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Soil Temperature and Seed Germination

Seedlings_Balkan_Ecology_Project

A few days ago we sowed the tomato seeds for this season’s market and home garden. It never ceases to amaze me what little indoor space you need to rear thousands of seedlings. We use two 50 cm x 30 cm x 15 cm trays to germinate approx 150 seedlings from 10 cultivars. When they get bigger we move them into two 1.3 x 8 m beds covered with polythene to rear them before they take their permanent positions in the gardens in early – mid April.

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The Early Polleniser Polyculture – A Support Polyculture for Orchards, Farms and Gardens

Early_Polleniser_Guild_Ninurta_permaculture_polyculture_agroecology

Paul Alfrey from the Balkan Ecology Project introduces a polyculture to provide pollination support for farms and gardens, yields of nutritious fruits and nuts, valuable nesting sites for endangered native bees, and spectacular flower displays to shake off the winter blues. We’re extending our Polyculture Project to include experimental perennial polycultures. Our aim is to develop models that are low cost to establish and maintain, can produce healthy affordable nutritious […]

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A Unique Learning Opportunity Studying The Productivity Of Polyculture Market Gardens In The Beautiful Balkans.

A Unique Learning Opportunity Studying The Productivity Of Polyculture Market Gardens In The Beautiful Balkans feature

Encouraged by high yields and high levels of biodiversity that we have been recording in our home gardens we have extended our research to look at how we can provide nutritious affordable food whilst enhancing biodiversity in polyculture market gardens. We are delighted to be offering a unique opportunity to take part in this study. Would you like to join us? What are we doing ? We are undertaking a […]

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The Quincessential Guide to Japanese Quince – Chaenomeles Speciosa

The Quincessential Guide to Japanese Quince feat

We have planted a fair bit of Japanese Quince – Chaenomeles speciosa in our gardens over the years, all of them grown successfully from seed. Initially I was disappointed by the rock hard, sour fruits that arrived in the fourth year after sowing, but have always had an appreciation for the profuse beautiful reddish pink flowers that appear in the early spring attracting bees and other pollinators. These days I’ve […]

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The Polyculture Market Garden Study – Results from Year 2 – 2016

The Polyculture Market Garden Study feat

We’ve completed the second year of our Market Garden Polyculture Study with some interesting results. This year we added a new polyculture to the trials and included a comparison between growing vegetables in a polyculture and growing them in more traditional blocks.

Below you will find an overview of the trial garden and the polycultures we are growing, a description of what we record and the results from this year’s study.

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Polyculture Trials 2016 – Home Garden Records

Polyculture Trials Feat

Paul Alfrey from the Balkan Ecology Project looks at his Polyculture Trials 2016 – Home Garden Records. http://balkanecologyproject.blogspot.com.au/2016/11/polyculture-trials-2016-home-garden.html For the previous three years, we have been testing the practice of growing vegetables and herbs in Polycultures (guilds within Permaculture circles). We have been using our home garden for these tests, and recording the inputs and outputs from the growing seasons. Our aim is to discover whether or not growing in […]

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How much Comfrey can you grow on 13 m2 ? – Comfrey Trial Results Year 1

How Much Comfrey Feat

Inspired by the work of Lawrence D Hills (1911–1991) who undertook extensive research on Comfrey during his lifetime,  we decided to start some Comfrey trials of our own to see just how much biomass these plants can produce for us, how well they fertilize our crops, how attractive they are for garden wildlife, and whether they have a beneficial impact on the soil. We sought to do this by planting […]

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How To Grow Your Own Mulch?

How to grow your own mulch feat

Growing my own mulch has long been a goal of mine. We use a lot of mulch in the nursery and garden and at the moment we have no problem sourcing straw but if/when the day comes that the farmers start using their own straw to improve their soil (which is becoming a more common practice), We’ll be needing to step up our mulch growing efforts. Currently, we grow enough mulch to sustain the perennial beds and around 10 % of the annual beds but rely on imported straw for mulching the other 90% of annual vegetable and nursery beds.

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The Essential Guide to Everything you Need to Know about Growing Walnuts – Juglans regia

The Essential Guide to Everything you Need to Know about Growing Walnuts - Juglans regia feat

If I were to tell you of an apocalypse proof asset that is 100% guaranteed to increase in value, both in the short (3 yrs) and long term (300 yrs), will contribute to your good health, provides aesthetic pleasure to your surroundings, has the potential to replicate itself exponentially and has parts that can be dipped into smooth melted dark chocolate, covered in cocoa powder and eaten, surely you’ll be chuffed to learn that I’m referring to none other than Juglans regia – The Walnut tree.

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Dig the Fig – The Essential Guide to All You Need to Know About Figs

Fig-Fruit

Man and fig have come a long way since then but have remained very much good friends, travelling and setting up home together all over the world where summers are warm and dry and winters are cool.

During this article, we’ll be focusing on the common fig – Ficus carica. We’ll look at fig types, hardy figs, fig cultivation, fig reproduction, fig propagation, good companions plants for figs, and growing figs commercially.

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