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.

Polyculture Trials 2016 – Home Garden Records

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

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?

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

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

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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Nitrogen Fixing Species for Agroforestry Systems

I am currently working on a Regenerative Landscape Design for a site in Todorovo, Bulgaria. The plan is to establish an Agroforestry system known as Alley Cropping wherein rows of mixed species edible trees and shrubs are planted at intervals with spaces for herbs, forage and/or grain crops to be grown in between. It’s a dynamic system which is inherently diverse, providing multiple yields and excellent habitat for wildlife while at the same time being relatively resilient to a changing climate.

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The Chai Guild

The Chai Guild is your homegrown one stop shop for refreshing vitalizing herbal teas and a living first aid cabinet. It also serves to attract a host of beneficial insects, provides habitat for many others, accumulates essential mineral nutrients and displays beauty and interest throughout the year.

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Biological Fertiliser – Human Urine

Human urine provides an excellent source of nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium and trace elements for plants, and can be delivered in a form that’s perfect for assimilation. With a constant, year-round and free supply of this resource available, more and more farmers and gardeners are making use of it.

Urine is 95% water. The other 5% consists of urea (around 2.5%), and a mixture of minerals, salts, hormones and enzymes.

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Comfrey – BELIEVE the HYPE!

There’s a plethora of info out there about comfrey but not much detail regarding establishing and managing a comfrey patch so I thought I would write an article to share my experience on this and how we grow comfrey as part of our fertility strategy in the market garden. When writing this article I could not resist to include some of the stories of this incredible plant and of the […]

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Perennial Polycultures – The Biomass Belt: Fertility Without Manure

We’re extending the Polyculture Project to include experimental perennial polycultures on various plots of our newly acquired land. Our aim is to develop models that are low cost to establish and maintain, can produce healthy affordable nutritious food and will enhance biodiversity. We’ve been looking into fencing our plots, and how to meet fertility demands of the establishing perennial crops such as fruits, nuts, herbs and perennial vegetables without relying […]

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