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.

Mo’ Mulberry – The Essential Guide to All You Need to Know About Mulberry

Paul Alfrey from Balkan Ecology Project takes a close look at these incredible plants including how to grow them, the uses of Mulberry and growing Mulberry in polycultures, permaculture and agroforestry. Not many plants offer so much to the grower while demanding so little in return. A tree that requires so little attention and care, that even if there were an RSPP – Royal Society for the Protection of Plants […]

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The Amazing Hazel – The Essential Guide to Everything you need to know about Hazels

Hazel is a multi-purpose champion of a plant that is super easy to grow, produces delicious nuts, pliable wood that can be crafted into a variety of products, provides early fodder for bees and an encouraging spectacle when flowering during the mid-winter.

What more can I say…. a plant so good people started naming their daughters after it.

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Small Pond Installations for Irrigation and Wildlife – Part 2 – Liners

Welcome to part 2 in a series of posts from Balkan Ecology Project covering the installation of small irrigation and wildlife ponds. Part one can be found here and covers planning and digging a pond. During this post, we’ll look at liner options and the steps you need to take to install a liner for your pond. Pond Liner Options   The majority of ponds will need some kind of liner to […]

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5 Ways to Prepare Beds for Tree and Shrub Planting – Which One is Best?

Balkan Ecology Project have been looking at various ways to prepare beds for planting, specifically for planting trees and shrubs. During this post, we will be looking at various ways to prepare beds for planting, specifically for planting trees and shrubs. I’ll introduce you to a trial we started this spring where we’re looking at 5 different bed preparation methods to see which method works best. We’ll go through how […]

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Trees for Bees

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

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

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.

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

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

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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