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.

Useful Garden Projects for Autumn Leaves

Despite having spent many of my most recent years in the tropics, and despite having grown up in Louisiana, where the number of seasons is pretty wishy-washy, I’ve always kind of assumed that autumn could possibly be my favorite time of year. My birthday is in right in the middle of autumn. It’s a time when the weather slowly cools down to a comfortable temperature, which seems better than slowly […]

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Repurposing Wood

Not so long ago, my wife Emma and I bought our property, a place for which we’d been looking for nearly four years. And, in doing so, the enormity of what we were about to undertake sunk in. I’d been gathering up wood in anticipation of us needing to build a home, but the pace had been leisurely and the collected resources a bit aimless in there (re)purpose. Amazingly, the […]

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Horseradish: Why I Should Try It Again

Earlier this year, in the spring, I was able to acquire a handful of horseradish roots to plant in a garden my wife Emma and I were putting together. I’d first encountered it as a plant the year before and was happy discover the leaves were edible with a flavor reminiscent, though milder, of the root. I’d never had horseradish in anything besides cocktail sauce, possibly some other condiments here […]

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Invasive Thoughts: A Battle with Conscientious Consciousness

I did a lot of research. I hummed and hawed, danced around the issue, came up with a veritable pros and cons type of list. Ultimately, the base of our food forest needed some fast-growing, nitrogen-fixing trees, and whether or not they were native came to feel somewhat moot. I found a good tree species. It was readily available (and free). What difference did it make if folks had deemed […]

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The Reflective Art of Garbage Collection and Deflection

The way we handle trash nowadays allows us to put it on the curb or in the dumpster and forget about it. We pile up however much rubbish we produce then someone comes to take it away. If we start taking responsibility, composting and reusing and recycling, that will help. The biggest help would be reducing the amount of waste we create, particularly plastics and chemicals, which don’t so readily […]

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Chores by Design

When the concept of sustainability moves past buying things labeled “green” into personal action, the cold hard truth is that our lifestyles need to change as much as the products we buy. Part of living sustainably is adjusting how we do things so that we are less consumptive and reliant on unsustainable systems. Performing everyday tasks — cleaning the floor, washing the dishes, drying clothes, opening a can, making coffee […]

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7 Productive Zone-7 Plants That I Think I’m Falling For

I love discovering new, useful plants to incorporate into garden design schemes. Of course, there are a great number of plants many of us have never heard of, let alone know how to utilize, but one of the great things about the permaculture mindset is that it constantly yields wonderful, unfamiliar flora to cultivate. There are many ways a plant or tree can be useful. Food is one that we […]

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12-Plus Methods for Keeping Challenging Weeds and Pests Out of the Garden

  With organic gardening, especially at the outset, comes a few new challenges for transitioning growers. Pesticides and other chemicals have, for several decades, become the go-to solution for all things in the garden, and now that many of us are clearing our heads from that fog, we are left to rediscover methods for dealing with everyday garden problems.  When herbicides have been the trick for combating weeds, how do […]

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Weeds Aren’t Actually All That Bad

Weeds, many say, are but misunderstood plants, plants that have somehow fallen out of favor. Often, they are ready growers, keen to pop up where space has allowed, and typically they are doing so to perform some sort of vital ecological function. Geoff Lawton says they are “symptom” of a flawed situation rather than the actual problem.   Weeds are working to right wrongs. They cover the ground. They prevent erosion. […]

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How to Make Instant Garden Beds

A common problem when just starting a garden is dealing with the fact that we’ve not had time to condition the soil, fostering it into something heaving with fertility. Or, maybe we just aren’t that far into gardening yet anyway and don’t know what to do. Basically, it seems we are left with the option of using what we have and hoping for the best, or we can spend a […]

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Different Methods for Propagating Fruit Trees from Cuttings, Etc.

While saving seeds is a great practice and every budding grower should be starting a personal seed bank, certain plants and trees are better propagated via cuttings. This is particularly the case with many fruit trees because they won’t produce the same quality of fruit as their parent plant.   While it can be a good idea to produce a variety of species and encourage the sowing of wild oats, so […]

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How Dry Composting Toilets Work

Dry composting toilets are an efficient, cyclical way of dealing with human waste without using and/or fouling fresh water, which is in ever-dwindling supply on the planet. Using clean water to flush human excrement sends it into either a septic system, which eventually has to be pumped and the sludge moved to larger facilities where it will then be dealt with, or sewer mains, where it congregates into a horribly […]

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