Abraham Palma

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since Jun 15, 2020
New to urban permaculture.
Málaga, Spain
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Recent posts by Abraham Palma

Skandi Rogers wrote:Could you have the top layer as a worm bin? and then let the juices trickle down through the other layers? If weight is to much of an issue you could fill the very middle with an air space or some waste polystyrene or something to reduce the overall weight but not the surface area, it would of course reduce the volume as well.



Good idea! I was wondering what to put in the top layer, since it is too deep for any herb. A shrub would love the place, but then it is too close to the wall for shrubs to develop correctly. A worm tower is much more interesting. You have to feed and water the tube anyways. I don't have worms since it's too sunny and hot for them, but if they are buried in the pyramid planter they might be safe.
Yes, I was thinking the same about the weight, maybe a wood panel in diagonal, hanging from the third tier to the floor in a 45º angle, would leave an empty space so each terrace has 25 to 35 cm deep. That would reduce volume roughly by half. 100 liters, and 150 kg is still a nice farming table.
5 days ago
I was wondering what wood I could use for the planter and I realized that it should be best to salvage some for free. Here it is not difficult to salvage some planks from pallets. The standard one is called Europalet, and it comes with 11 planks and 9 dices. Discard the dices and fetch the planks carefully, removing their nails.
Here is the schematics. All measures are in International System. It is just a pile of five boxes. Place one box, fill it with potting mix, pile next box and repeat. It is best to treat the wood with some safe to eat oil.

I have yet to check if the balcony can stand the weight, since this thing might weight around 250 kg when moist, not counting the plants. It might not pass the wife test, but I'll leave you it here nonetheless, maybe someone can find it useful.
5 days ago

Michael Cox wrote:I notice that you are located in Spain. I think black soldierfly are in your area, which are fantastic for fast composting in small places. Plus the larvae themselves can be a valuable product (used for feeding reptiles, birds, fish etc...)


Interesting.
I don't think I've ever seen that flies. Here flies are to be avoided since they can pollute food and are annoying, especially Musca Domestica. Our earthworms in the shared garden die too easily, maybe these flies are a better option?
5 days ago

Michael Cox wrote:I have been mulling this.

Permaculture is not just growing stuff. It’s about the whole cycle of plant to food to waste to plants...

Small land areas like balconies don’t lend themselves to growing meaningful amounts of food, so why not tackle other parts of the system.

Do you have an active composting or work bin for food waste? What about grey water?



Hi.
Yes, I'm trying to cover what I can in the other parts of the system already. Beware that in a city there's not too much that can be done, we don't have access to lumber for example, and some things that people do here at permies are too expensive or too much work for a city dweller. In addition, most of us live in apartments. Whatever measure we take must be balanced by convenience and impact. Grey water would reduce our consumption of water, but not by noticeable amounts. In an apartment grey water can only be used in WC, and we already have a water saving device that controls water discharge. I would save 12 liters per day, 360 liters per month, the average consume for us (3 people) should be 11700 liters per month, though we usually consume half that quantity. So we are talking about saving 3-6% of tap water at the cost of installing a water pump (more stuff), a water container (where could I put that thing in my small apartment?). No way. Maybe for suburbs, where people live in 3 tier houses with a small garden it can be a good idea if you can reuse that water for gardening, but in apartments that's too much. Even for gardening pots.

When we talk about urban farming, we know that this can't keep people fed. We must rely on the fields for most of our consume. But it makes sense to produce some fresh food at home. Fresh food can't be easily moved and preserved, so having a source of fresh food nearby as a diet complement is good for a few reasons: security, if supply chains ever fail, fresh food is the first thing to be missed; less spoil since the veggies come directly from the soil to the table; better waste management, so we have a way to use that rich compost we've made; less energy used, no fridges, no trucks, no plastic containers. And it tastes better when you can eat fruits that mature in the plant.

I have a tumbler composter that I put in the local shared garden (wife didn't want that stuff at home), but that garden has no access to water, so I must bring water bottles to keep it moist. But yes, that part of the waste management is covered, at least the small part that we can reasonably achieve in a city.

5 days ago

Myron Platte wrote:My mind immediately goes to "schemes for water harvest". Does rain ever fall on your balcony? If so, where? Can you capture it creatively? You mentioned a nearly constant wind from the east. Does this lead to rain falling on the western side of the balcony more often? You might want to make a shaded rock pile to harvest humidity through condensation, which could than run down to the top of the pyramid bed. the less humidity you have, the less well it will work, though.



Hi. Rain is not reliable here. It usually rains very heavily for a few days, then it's sunny weather for weeks, and we even have 4 months where it doesn't fall a single drop of water. I can't storage that much quantity. There are more balconies above mine and even with heavy rain, only a small part of it gets the water. For aesthetic reasons and to avoid problems with my neighbours, I can't build any water collecting structures.
In my city, we have an average humidity of 70%, and on several nights we have a small fog rain that doesn't permeate the soil and is evaporated when the sun rises. I don't see how such stones can gather water during the night into a container for later watering use, but will investigate. My guts tell me that this is just a small cup of water at best.

About the wind, this is not really an issue. I have already small olive trees that can shade it a little bit, and besides, it's not a strong wind, just constant. When it comes from the East, it comes humid and fresh, when it comes from the West it is hot and dry. That's why it is better to face East here.

I have improved the design so it can be made with salvaged Europalets. Will post drawings soon. My concerns now are the weight and the wife approval.
6 days ago
Thanks.
So your point is, more or less, that even if it is not the ideal, it's better than nothing.

Here's the sketch of what I had in mind. I've researched a little bit on the net and it comes out that this is also called a pyramid planter, usually made for strawberries. I modified my design so it fits better the balcony. It's one big terraced lot of potting mix, the planks are there to keep the terraces in place.

You see, my balcony is very long but thin, it's 1 meter wide 7 meters long. I cannot allow the planter to be deeper than 50 cm. I can't have it longer than 150 cm either, or it would conflict with other elements. The balcony is facing south-south-east. I know the pyramid should be faced south, but if I did that I could only make room for 2 long tiers. Facing east is not that bad, especially since our highest problem here is the summer heat, and the constant wind from the east. This thing I draw has 5 different areas of the same size with different humidity and different space for root development, but they are all connected. It's like a gardening table for a variety of plants, but in the same soil. Being a planter, it requires a drainage. It has a volume of 200 liters, I hope that's enough for some underground habitat.
1 week ago
Hi,
I was wondering for a while how to do some permaculture gardening in my flat terrace/balcony. I already have some pots with some vegetables, but I am afraid they are being cultivated the agroecological way, not the permaculture one.
Why's that? Well, I really depend on inputs from outside. Tap water, liquid fertilizer, bags of substrate, mostly plastic pots, aphids fought with potassic soap water, etc.

I learned about plant guilds, soil regeneration, compost making and all that, and though I found a community garden where I can put that into practice (included the social aspect), I keep wondering how to make it work in my terrace. I recently saw the Geoff Lawton documentary about urban permaculture, and he showed some small spaces were pots were perused. Now I am confused. I thought that it is not possible to recreate in a small pot the conditions for a self-regenerative soil, maybe a small urban raised bed would work, but that thing does not fit in my terrace. Here it is window boxes or flowerpots. Made of plastic, in addition.
I even tried to turn a window box into a wicking bed, but it doesn't work, nothing grows there, not even weeds.

Now I want to try something else. I'd like to build a 3 tier container, 50 cm deep, 50 cm tall, up to 100 cm wide. The containers I've seen use geotextile fabric to separate the tiers, so they behave like three independent window boxes. This fabric is made of plastic, I think, so I'd rather not use it. I'm thinking of having the three espaces connected, so it is actually one large bed with the shape of stairs. In the base I would place some wood planks and cardboards to keep to substrate in place, and a drainage with some gravel. I'd also treat the wood with some oil so it stands better the humidity.

My questions.

1. What is your opinion of growing food in pots when you just have this little space in your apartment? Can this be really sustainable? Can it be labeled as permaculture somehow?
2. What do you think it is the minimum volume for a planter to behave like real soil, supporting earthworms and such, not like a flowerpot?
3. Do you know what can be the drawbacks of growing in this 3 tier planter, compared to just using three different window boxes of different sizes?

Thanks in advance.
1 week ago
Whoever calls this 'trébol' is mistaken. It is 'vinagretas', 'sorrel' in English or oxalis in its latin name.

It's an invasive species, it spreads wildly. But it requires shade and humidity.
Unlike the clover, the sorrel does not add nitrogen to the soil.
But it is a nice little plant that does little harm, in my opinion.
Unless they interfere with your crop, I say let them be. That's what we do in our garden.

Antonio Hache wrote:Forgot the picture



If it were clover that would be wonderful. However, this is not clover. This is Oxalis (vinagretas del campo). You can even use them as a spice, just the stem of the flower, vinegar tasted. I loved to chew it when I was a kid.
Common wisdom says that it is a weed and that you should remove it so it doesn't waste resources for your crops.
At our garden we don't remove them unless they are screening the sun from our crops, we leave them as cover crop.

But, if you can afford it, you could purchase some clover seeds and spread them around, they will make a much better cover crop. The clover has a flower that looks like a white balloon. There's even a dwarf variety that will make your land look like a lawn.

paul wheaton wrote:The point of the fork story is that some people cannot hear what you are saying unless you first remove the forks.

Not all people.

Not even these certain people all the time.

And you can argue that it is not fair or reasonable.  Not decent.  

And while it is true, some of these people "will always find a fork" - if you really need to get through to them, you will predict those forks too - or be prepared to explain those forks when trying to get your point across.



Let me tell you a family story:
My uncle is always finding excuses to not be at home, the coffee is always better at the coffee bar. And he complains that his wife is always looking for trouble.
Then I heard my aunt-in-law complaining that when she needed someone to shut out because she was in the mood and needed to release the stress, her husband was never there.

One should think that 'listen to her' is just offering an ear for her to complain about everything, but in some cases they just want a punching bag. Of course, they don't say clearly what they really want, they are expecting you to realise things for yourself by being attentive. In her view, if you HAD listened (reading between lines) you would have guessed it correctly, so in her view, your misunderstanding is a proof that you weren't listening. That you were never taught to listen like that is all your fault, as well as your refusal to even try to think in the same way she does just because you think it is craziness.

Relationships are made of this twisted logic.

That's why looking for the fork can't work in relationships. It's of no use to be right. It achieves nothing but fulfilling your ego. You can only accept that the logic of the other person is always going to be flawed and interested (that says something about your own logic, by the way), and negotiate.
Even if you manage to demonstrate that the other person was wrong, most of the time that only serves for a retaliation. The other person will find another excuse to make you pay for whatever wrong is thought to be committed.