Jonathon Engels

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In 2005, after earning a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Memphis, I pitched my tent abroad and began one of the few careers appropriate for people with humanities training: teaching English to foreign kids. Through the years, I’ve managed to keep the old writing dream alive, usually in the form of course guides and ESL exercise booklets, but from April 2010 to April 2011, I created a monthly newsletter for a Guatemalan-based NGO, Las Manos de Christine, as well as wrote much of the organization’s website content. Inspired by the success, in late 2011, I decided to explore freelance writing. After having some success on the travel writing scene, which is to say a few websites bought articles from me, published them, and made good on the payments, I felt content and inspired to try my hand at other topics. I’m a serious vegan and into activism, so I applied for a job at great website called One Green Planet. Somehow, they found it in their hearts to give me a shot, and we’ve been collaborating weekly ever since. As well, during my latest travel venture, a trip from Guatemala to Patagonia, volunteering the whole way down, I fell for permaculture and began writing about it as well. And so here we are, voyeur (of sorts) and voyager. To learn more about Jonathon please visit his website here.

An Embarrassment of Riches. Hardly. Over-Abundance in the Garden Is Never a Bad Thing.

Autumn Abundance

In the scheme of things, be it an edible lawn in the suburbs, a five-acre homestead, or a hobby-sized container garden, none of us set off growing food in the hopes of producing too little. We aim to feed ourselves. Many of us strive for more. We want over-abundance, more food than we know what to do with, breakfasts literally falling from the trees and lunches sprouting up from the […]

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The Importance of Food from a Different Source: Eating Perennials

Pigeon Pea (Courtesy of Forest and Kim Starr)

Permaculture and perennial plants seem to be inextricably linked, and such is the case by design, of course. When building a permanent ecosystem, food-based or otherwise, it makes little sense to do so with annual plants. They die; thus, they require cultivation again and again, as well as an abundance of minerals and nutrients to support such fast growth cycles. While some edible annuals may readily self-seed, the quick turnover […]

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Working Wisely with Weeds

Weeds (Hermann Kaser)

Weeds are the fighters of the plant world. They are the pioneers, setting off in uncharted territories and cutting new pathways into lands bare and scorched. Then again, they, too, are sometimes the most firmly rooted, digging themselves deep into the fabric of the soil or spreading out far and wide. Perhaps that is why they are also the most misunderstood, the wild and wily, regularly showing up where they […]

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20 Garden Hacks for the Quirky and Pragmatic Permaculturalist

Garden Hacks for the Quirky and Pragmatic Permaculturalist

There is a new term—hack—spinning wildly on the World Wide Web, and I’ve resisted it. I grew up in a time where a hack was someone who did a crappy job, so transitioning into the new definition has been an arduous process for me. But, words evolve, and times change. I don’t want to be the guy standing in the way, so for those of you only now stumbling on […]

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Many and Varied Reasons for Putting Sweet Potatoes in Your Garden

Courtesy of Jnzl's Public Domain Photos

Most of us, or at least those of us would think about such things, consider sweet potatoes to be hot weather crop. After all, they do come from tropical roots (Yes, that is gardening word play), and they aren’t the biggest fans of cold weather. But, this isn’t to say that they can’t be grown elsewhere and add another stomach-stuffing staple to the mix. I’ll never understand why sweet potatoes […]

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A Guide to Simple Worm Farming Techniques

Happy Tiger Worms (Courtesy of Timothy Musson)

Even novice gardeners are aware of worms as a driving force in the garden, and this is especially so for those no-till beds so popular in permaculture plots. For most of us, it’s no great revelation that soil thick with worms is also likely to be thick with plant growth. The reasons are many, but in the most basic terms, earthworms are great for aerating soils and transforming organic material […]

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How to Make Your Own Plant-based Cooking Oils

oil in non-stick frying pan

On the road to self-sufficiency, there are lots of everyday items we run across that seem either impossible or too far-fetched for home production. In some cases, this is true: One can’t very well grow rice in England or wheat in the tropics, so the right answer is probably to minimize or cut out the use of certain things with regards to what can be produced locally. Such is life, and such is the case with cooking oil.

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Cut Your Chickens Feed Bill by Fermenting

Cut Your Chickens Feed Bill by Fermenting feat

Fermentation is nothing new to most of us. We’ve either used it with our surpluses for natural food preservation, or we’ve taken advantage of the probiotics, those beneficial bacteria, that fermenting something creates. As health-promoting element of our diet, its importance is not up for debate; as a part of industrialized lifestyle, its absence has now been recognized as a serious flaw in the system.

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How to Filter Your Own Drinking Water

How to Filter Your Own Drinking Water feat

My wife Emma and I have been looking for property in Central America for over a year now. During the search, we have been volunteering on different spots, learning from those who have already been there and done that, as well as experimenting with ideas we have for our own future farm. One of the things that is always on our minds is water. Of course, aiming to be as […]

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10-Plus Healthful Teas from the Herb Garden

lemon-splash-132464345

What’s not to like about tea? And, what’s not to like about being healthy? For that matter, what’s not to like about growing plants to make healthy teas out the garden? Odds are, if you’re the type scrolling around on the pages of Permaculture News, you already have a load of useful plants for making medicinal teas growing outside in the garden (or maybe even inside). Most of us think […]

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14 Sites to Help with Your Permaculture Practice

questions answers ask the right question and get an answer road sign indicating online help or support desk solving problems

These days I design more freely. I’m comfortable assessing where a good place to plant might be. On a good day, it might even occur to me what to plant and how to plant it. I have experience finding contour lines, installing swale systems and collecting water, and I know how to find or create on-site resources to make fertile garden beds. I’ve worked some with construction-grade bamboo, with cob, […]

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Why Our Lawns Are Bad for the Environment and How to Change Them for the Better

feat Why Our Lawns Are Bad for the Environment and How to Change Them for the Better

Lawns were a European invention, England to be precise, and they were the undertaking of the fabulously wealthy, seeking to bring the glade closer to home. Originally, they were cultivated with more useful (though not necessarily used) plants like chamomile or thyme. However, the trend moved towards closely cropped grasses, first maintained by grazing sheep then by men with scythes and finally, eventually, moving along (in fast forward) to the […]

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