Category: Plants

Salak Palm: A Guide for Tropical Permaculture

Salak palm or snake fruit (Salacca edulis or Salacca zalacca) is a high-value understory species for tropical agroforestry plantings. Salak palm is native to southeast Asia, where it is commercially cultivated in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Java, in their wet tropical lowland climates. At higher elevations, the “Bali” variety can be grown. It produces a delicious fruit, eaten out of hand, with a taste similar to strawberry with an apple-like texture. […]

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Simple Approaches to Making and Using Foliar Fertilizers

One of our main goals in the permaculture garden is to foster soil life, and there are many methods we use for accomplishing this goal. We apply thick mulches and add plenty of organic matter. We practice no-dig methods so as not to harm existing soil life, and we enhance richness by adding things like worm compost, manure, and leaf mold. We increase fertility with nitrogen-fixing plants. We cultivate perennial […]

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The Best Species for Coppice Forestry

It seems almost miraculous: you cut a tree down to its stump, and a couple years later it has grown several meters high once again. Like that mythical dragon who grows two heads for every one you cut off, there are dozens of different species of trees who have an incredible ability to regrow after severe cutting. Coppice forestry, the practice of cutting certain species of trees down to their […]

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9 Productive Plants for Water Gardens

In permaculture design, water is the first priority. We try to find its natural routes on and off the property, slow it down, spread it out, and harvest it for use in times when it isn’t so abundant. In this regard, ponds (below surface water catchments, often naturally formed) and dams (walled-off catchments that retain water) are routinely part of a permaculture site. Designers should strive to make these bodies […]

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Health Benefits of the Miracle Tree or Moringa Tree

It seems like every year or two a new “superfood” hits the shelves of health food stores around the country. Whether it be some Chinese ancient herbal remedy or some pseudo-grain grown by an indigenous culture in some part of the world, superfoods have been growing in popularity with the health-conscious population around the world. The moringa tree, like other superfoods, offers enormous amounts of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that […]

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10 Other Berries to Be Aware Of

Since arriving in the temperate climate, I’ve been so excited about the idea of growing berries that I’ve been compiling lists of what—besides the common stuff—I might want to grow. We all know strawberry, blueberry, blackberry, raspberry, and Chuck Berry (i.e., “Johnny B. Goode”), but these are other berries that we can and should consider including in the garden. Some of them are delightfully tasty, some of them mystically nutritious, […]

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How Much Can Plants Hear?

Plants may possess more complex senses than previously thought, according to a new study led by the University of Western Australia that has revealed that plants have the ability to both detect and respond to sound. Talking to plants has always been fairly common practice among many aboriginal tribes – and to this day, the most devoted gardeners will claim that playing classical music or providing words of positive reinforcement […]

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Productivity in the Temperate Understory

I started my permaculture journey in Central America. I was introduced to the term in Nicaragua. I spent time with it in Panama, Guatemala, and Belize. Then, I learned more in Colombia and southern Spain, Andalucía. What I’d never done until recently is spent much time—at least not with regards to permaculture—in cool temperate setting. Now, I’m in North Carolina, reimagining much of what I know and learning new plants […]

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The Health Benefits of Growing and Eating Turmeric

Turmeric is a root that grows well in tropical climates and is the main ingredient in the Indian spice curry. What few people know is that turmeric is also one of the best all-around natural medicines that can be found. Turmeric can be used topically for skin related health issues or ingested for a wide array of internal health problems. You can also grow your own turmeric in containers in […]

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Deer-Resistant Plants and Trees That Are Edible

Up until very recently, deer have never been a great concern of mine, at least not in terms of gardening. I’d seen beds suffer at the spurs of the neighbors’ chickens, watched my wife running out of the greenhouses with her arms waving, mouth like a G-rated sailor. Once in Belize, we’d left a fenced garden for a couple of weeks only to return and learn that an agouti (you […]

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Plant-Based Sources of Protein

Any time I mention veganism, I feel the need to precursor the discussion with the fact that in no way am I suggesting that anyone is wrong for not practicing a plant-based diet or that it is necessarily healthier than an omnivorous one. Without a doubt, circumstances of food availability are different around the world, and regardless of our whereabouts, we all have personal versions of what we will and […]

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Tropical Food Forests

One of the biggest myths of the industrialized food system is related to the issue of productivity. The massive monocultures of wheat, soybeans, corn, and other products that are cultivated by GPS-controlled combines and fertilized with heavy doses of chemical fertilizers are upheld as the standard of maximum productivity of the land. Following from this myth, we are led to believe that if it wasn’t for the genius of industrial […]

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