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.

20 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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Great, Free (or Cheap) Gardening Resources for the Small-Time Farmer

Much of the modern food movement, the one that is shedding large-scale monocultures and promoting local self-sufficiency, is predicated on small farms. Our suburban lawns are being transformed into zones of food production. Our urban balconies become miniature ecosystems, complete with animal habitats and edible gardens. Vacant lots and public parks are converted into food forests and/or allotments. At the beginning of this transition, we are relearning some skills—seed-saving, organic […]

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Gardening What Grows: Using Nature’s Choices a Year Later

About a year or more ago, after eighteen months of traveling, my wife Emma and I returned to the closest thing we have to a home: an eco-lodge in Guatemala, in a small village outside the tourist hub of Antigua. Earth Lodge has been the place we go when we run out of steam. It has been a haven and space for personal growth, and it comes with the benefit […]

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Home Cooking with DIY Kitchen Equipment

I’m a huge fan of home-cooking and, even as a teenager, learned to prepare meals from scratch for myself, which was pretty miraculous in the 90s but even more so these days. Whatever the case, cooking at home with real food is a huge part of the permaculture lifestyle. After all, we have to do something with all the fruit and veggies we are growing. Having a decent grasp on […]

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