Jonathon Engels

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The financially unfortunate combination of travel enthusiast, freelance writer, and vegan gardener, Jonathon Engels whittled and whistled himself into a life that gives him cause to continually scribble about it. He has lived as an expat for over a decade, worked in nearly a dozen countries, and visited dozens of others in the meantime, subjecting the planet to a fiery mix of permaculture, music, and plant-based cooking. More of his work can be found at Jonathon Engels: A Life About.

How to Harvest Enough Dry Beans and Other Legumes to Feed a Family

Scarlet Runner Beans

I’ve been growing beans now for a while. They are a big part of my diet, and the nitrogen-fixing bacteria many legumes (not just beans) have are a huge factor of garden design. It’s common practice for me to simply plant a load of beans and peas as soon as a bed is made, both to chop-and-drop but also to pull a good harvest from the first planting. Something I’m […]

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My New Take on Self-Sowing Plants for Low Maintenance Gardening

Raised Bed

It happened this week, just yesterday actually, I was piddling through some old sheet mulch garden beds I’d made, beds still providing plenty, and discovered the next generation of plants coming up. There were three or four leafy outcrops of arugula sprung through the mulch. There was collection of pigeon pea saplings, about 15-20 centimeters high that were hiding amongst the weeds I was pulling. A cranberry hibiscus had dropped […]

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A Dozen or More Plants That Provide Quickly and Abundantly

Lemon Cucumbers (Courtesy of Megan Hansen)

I am for a new system of food production in which we utilize perennial plants more, slowly replacing our tendency to eat, nearly exclusively, annuals with a diet better suited to self-sustaining, soil-building, long-living agricultural ecosystems. I know these systems, in the end, will serve us better as a planet (humanity having to exist on said planet), has the potential to provide well-balanced abundance, and give us lives less reliant […]

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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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