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Konstantinos Karoubas

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since Mar 20, 2012
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Recent posts by Konstantinos Karoubas

The pine forest that surrounds the city of Thessaloniki is sick and the trees are dying...a bug by the name Tomicus piniperda, is according to the scientists, responsible for this mess.

The dead trees are being cut and taken away in an effort to limit the damage.

Like most forestry departments around the world, the Greek Forestry Service in the past,  planted pine trees everywhere...

But something good can always come out of a bad situation...lets see what they will plant now.
It's an opportunity to create a strong multi level forest, that will include the trees discussed in this post.

The news article is in Greek, but the pictures tell the story...

news article

5 days ago
I like your can do spirit Jain...

I still wonder why so few people use solar energy to cook.

In any case I hope the idea of using old clothes, and the "no skills required - inexpensive" set up will help.

2 weeks ago
and if you look closely at the 2019 photo you will see an almond tree growing !!!
2 weeks ago
Below are 2 photos.

2012 or 2013 a cactus pad was thrown on the ground near Thessaloniki.

Six, seven years later, the young tender leaves can provide a good meal.

Food production is effortless, if we can figure out what the land likes to grow.

The 2012 photo is shown on page 3 of this thread.

2 weeks ago
Here is a brief write up for Solar Cooking Wiki

Solar Cooking Wiki

3 weeks ago
The following videos are in Greek...they are self explanatory..but here are some comments in English

All you needs is a tub like the ones shown and some old clothes, towels blankets etc for insulation, at the bottom of the tub and sides

We put our food in a dark pan or pot, cover it with glass (5 or 6 mil thick), and close it tightly with paper clips...we place our food container in a larger pot or pan, and cover this also with does not need to be tempered...

we placed our pot in the larger black pan, covered it and sealed it with the clips..then put everything in the insulated we used cotton balls, but just old clothes will do

press the clothing next to the pot and insulate as well as you can to prevent heat loss

We place the tub facing east west (long side).
The east facing mirror is placed vertical (up and down...90 degrees with the horizontal)
The south facing mirror is slightly sloped (85 +/- degrees with the ground)
We placed the solar oven out at 10 AM, and will leave it until 2PM, without ever moving it !!!
This is a large oven roaster and does not heat up as easily as the flat pans.

In this arraignment,  we put the bread in the pan, and placed the ends of toothpicks at the top and bottom of the pan, to allow steam and moisture to escape the pan.
The oven is slightly sloped east to west to facilitate the escape of moisture and prevent the bread from getting wet

we place the bread pan inside the large pan, and the whole assembly is placed in the insulated this case a wooden we used clothes and cotton for insulation

Its 10:15 Am...the placement of the oven and mirrors is the same...we placed a piece of wood under the eastern end of the oven to give it a slight slope.
Its important to tie down the mirror, and be careful with the glass...Safety is a must and everyone is responsible for their actions !!!

For the 3rd oven, we are cooking rice...rice and water is placed in a bread baking form, and then placed inside a smaller oven roaster

Here we used a small plastic tub...its light and it worked just fine..obviously the rice does not need 3 hours to cook !!!

Its 11:20 AM..this is the 4th and last oven for today...its black eyed beans...we placed the oven facing the its not truly east the oven facing the sun.
The rice is at 75C, the meat at 80C, and the bread also at 80C...note the thermometer is in the outside in the inside container where the food is, the temperature maybe 20 to 40 degrees more.

At 12:10 PM the rice has absorbed all the water...the temperature is at 120C...the rice should be done..the temperature at the beans is at 130C, the flat pan is better at raising the temperature, even though its not black...
the temperature at the large oven roaster is at 80C
the bread is at 100C...the water is sliding at the top glass, and the bread is getting a tan color

The rice is out and it looks and tastes good...please with the results...after an hour and 20 minutes the water has been absorbed the the rice is fluffy...rice made it in the sun and leave it !!!

at 12:30 PM the beans oven is at at 140C and the water is boiling...the meat oven is at 80C, but more important, the liquid inside the pot is staring to boil, so the meat and potatoes are cooking...the bread is changing color,  and the temperature is at 100C

At 1:00PM,  the beans are at 130C and the beans are boiling very well, the meat is at 100C, and the pot is boiling...the bread is at 100C and the bread has a nice color...with time we will gain experience on how to use these ovens, with the least amount of work...

at 1:30PM the beans are cooking well (temperature is not visible-and not really important...the food is cooking)
the meat is at 110C, and the food is cooking well all around
the bread is at 100C and the bread has a good color

At 2:00PM the beans are cooking slowly now
the meat has been cooking now for 4 hours
the bread looks done...its been in for 3.5 hours

The potatoes and meat have cooked well...the meat is a bit dry at the top side, but cooked well..

The bread smells good and is well cooked...its dry at the top and bottom, so the toothpicks worked well....we will need to try this again and again to verify the results

At 2:25PM  the beans have been cooking for 3 hours, the water has been absorbed, the outside temperature has dropped to eyed beans take longer to cook...the bread came out good

The beans are done, they are a bit crunchy, but ok
all this cooking with only the sun....I am in owe at how simple it is !!!

1 month ago
I don't know why it took so long to figure this out, usual, simplicity rules !!! (and it hides well)

Assemble a solar oven with items found around the house or easily bought nearby. See the included video...its self explanatory...any comments or questions please let me know...

Simply set the oven outside in the morning 7, 8 or 9 am not move it....return at 2 or 3 PM and the food will be cooked...needs further trials, but it looks good...

AND you can make Bread !!!

glass does not need to be tempered (make sure edges are sanded to prevent cuts)...make sure mirrors are tied down in case of windy weather...

The key is the well insulated outer box, using old clothes or old bathroom towels...this with a low cost brings the temperatures up tp 130 to 150+ degrees Celsius

Cooking in sunny weather becomes really simple and economical


1 month ago
Update Thessaloniki

MK 1
Some areas, we have abandoned. MK 1 is such a case. We placed a few thousand seeds here, but have very few trees growing. Wild pigs tear up the land; for a few years, stray dogs camped here, and I am sure our friendly mice contributed to the problem. I think I will revisit the area in the future; the stray dogs are's not good to leave the area bare...the soil is good and I don't like leaving unfinished work.

Line of almonds
Two kilometers of almond trees have been planted at the side of the road, every 2 meters or so...these trees are 3 to 6 years old...they are at the edge of a pine forest...some have grown to 150 cm, but most are around 50 cm. They look healthy...they will live or die and grow at their pace, as nature allows… we have done our part and are very pleased. See

EK 1
This small piece was doing well….unfortunately it was visited by our friendly pigs...I will continue seed placement here. See

EK 2
See the video -----
Things are going well here...very pleased...will continue seed placement at reduced rates. See

TR 1
This area is covered 60% by pines...we have few  apricots and plums growing under the pines, but the area is not  “ideal” for a food forest. Will continue seed placement at reduced rates.


This is a new area we are working on, and things are going well...we will monitor it.

This is similar to EK3, but smaller

By spending a few hours from October to December, an individual can have a huge impact on the surrounding environment and people --- IT'S EASY !!!

Finally, we had no luck so far planting pomegranate trees by simply putting seeds in the ground, and not watering them. Last summer we threw a few seeds in a container and watered them; about 10 grew into small trees. In the middle of the winter, we pulled 2 of them out and transplanted them...they are doing well...we are not going to water them...if they survive the summer, we may use this approach with other trees that do not do well by seed.

1 month ago
May 2019 -- Overall Summary

The efforts in the Thessaloniki area are going well. We have three areas that can be considered planted, with small trees over 2-6 years old. I am at the point where I can say with confidence, "we can reforest Northern Greece with seeds and provide food for all creatures, at a fraction of the cost of conventional tree planting"

Efforts and energy will now shift to Athens (500 km South), and Sparta (800 km South). The summers there are longer, and conditions are harsher for young trees. The issue of land degradation and desertification is more intense there. The objective is to cover the earth with plants, shrubs and trees. Soil improvement and regeneration is the primary goal !!!

We have a new design/mix for the clay cubes, and will be testing it over the next few years - it looks promising.

Update on the Katsika Mountain Effort
This is the area we discussed four months ago and have photos on page 17 of this thread (trying to reforest a bare mountain while it's being grazed by goats)...we planted small pine and cypress trees and protected them with rocks...the video shows the results so far...even if 1 tree survives the summer heat and goats, I will be satisfied. See

This is the mountain where we used the drone to scatter seeds like the medick may take a few years before we see the results, if any.

Update Clay Cubes- New Design
We placed few clay cubes in Thessaloniki, Athens and Sparta to evaluate the new design.

The clay cubes are 6 cm x 6 cm x 3 cm height (nominal)….A mix of 5 parts clay 5 parts manure and 2 parts chopped straw was used (parts by volume). The seeds were placed at the bottom of the forms and at the top of the clay...only seeds that are known to sprout easily and do well were used (wild pear, plum and medick tree)...alfalfa seeds were mixed in with the clay manure mix….see page 16 (middle of page)

The Sparta region experienced catastrophic rains. The clay cubes there were totally destroyed…see video
at 1:52

Athens had "normal" rainfall...most of the cubes produced young trees - the cubes lost a small amount of their volume from rains...see the Athens
at 0:30

Thessaloniki experienced well below normal rainfalls...the cubes remained intact...but few trees sprouted...see
. The previous year, with the same weather pattern, the “typical” cubes produced no trees.

Clay cubes  in Thessaloniki produced trees at a rate of 25%, in Athens 75%1, and in Sparta no trees.

A major advantage of using this design is that you can see how many seeds are in each cube, and consequently use fewer seeds.

Update Sparta

A Area
We will be trying to reforest small pieces of land 20 km east and a bit south of elevations 200 to 400 meters ranging from hard red clay to rich healthy soil and rocky areas that have hardly any soils.

Two areas we will be planting belong to my family, and have some olive trees. These are small plots, less than 3,000 square meters each. Here we will test to see what trees can thrive without care, to improve the soil and strengthen the existing olive trees - create mini natural farms (Masanobu Fukuoka, San).



We will also place seeds in public areas that are degraded and have very little soil...much of the public land is overgrazed, so there will be difficulties. Trees will have a hard time penetrating the rocky surface.

This is by far the most difficult area...but indications are that carob trees, laburnum and almonds grow from seed lower survival rates (needs work and observation).

The carob trees, oaks and olive trees can form the basis of reforestation for the area, as they probably were in ancient times. I suspect oaks will do well here. Mother nature plants plenty of wild olive trees here...I just don't know yet how it does far my efforts to use the olive tree for reforestation have failed. There are carob trees around but do not self seed. There are very few oaks around...they were cut down by ignorance and greed. Mankind has gone after trees with a vengeance.

B Area
This area is at 1000+/- meters elevation. It's 40 km east and a bit north of Sparta and the area is covered with conifers - (pines, cedars and fir (but mostly pines). It's a beautiful green mountain that provides relief from the oppressive summer heat in the valley below (A Area).

I have placed seeds in this area in the previous years, and due to the high elevation, and cooler summers, it's easy to plant trees here. Apples, apricots, plums, and almonds...all survive here at good rates. I will try walnuts, chestnuts etc to see how they do.

As usual, we need to be  aware of the goats, mice, and wild pigs...wild pigs are very active here.

The main forests in Greece consist of pine trees. If as projected, the pines wither away in the next 50 years, the country will be in trouble...increased temperatures, fires, floods, carbon release etc.

I am afraid this condition, applies to many regions around the world  with Mediterranean and similar climates.

But if life gives you lemons ... make lemonade !!!

We can start planting drought tolerant fire resistant trees, and trees that will improve the soil and provide food... it's a call to action for all prudent people; replace a weak pine forest with a better, healthy, multi species, productive forest. I am optimistic and confident we can do it.

Update Athens



This is the 2nd visit to the area, which burned down 2 summers ago. We will use the same seeds we used in Thessaloniki, so we can evaluate, which ones do well here. We will also be looking for new trees and shrubs which thrive here, and testing to see if they can be used for reforesting.

We need to spend more time here...the half hour visits on the way to Sparta are not enough.

Update Petralona Halkidiki

The area denoted Petra ND (3,000 m^2) as noted previously is considered planted ...we may add a few seeds each year, but the only thing we have to do is wait. See the older video

Area denoted Rema...for the last 2 - 3 years, we been placing seeds in this area...its around 500 square meters. This area is visited by mice, and we have used it as a testing ground...see
In Spite of the mice we have many trees growing, and will continue putting seeds in the ground. In due time it will provide fruits and nuts for the people nearby.

Ten years from now we will regret not having placed more seeds in the ground.

Here, like Thessaloniki, we can easily create, an edible food forest, if we persist for 2 to 5 years.

Update for Thessaloniki follows soon.

Thank You


1 month ago