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Brian Smith

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since Oct 02, 2011
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Recent posts by Brian Smith

Beautiful house: One level, 3 bedroom, 2 full bath, spacious kitchen with tons of shelves, skylights, lots of windows, gas fireplace, comfortable living space.

Useful property: Pretty concrete block patio great for relaxing, barbeques, sipping something cool while watching the kids in the yard; level green yard space; pebbly trails; hammock hut; greenhouse; independent studio with heat, electric, phone hook-up (great for art, music, home-based business); giant detached garage / workshop. Fenced on all sides. Electronic front driveway gate.

Edible landscape: Fifteen fruit trees, 25+ berry bushes, several edible, perennial vines. Five concrete block permanent raised garden beds for annual vegetables. Asparagus bed. Grapes and hardy kiwi growing on cedar trellises. Room to expand. Fertile soil.

Beauty all around the property: Many perennial flowers. Many specimen trees such as Japanese maple, mountain ash, pink dogwood, Camperdown elm. Lots of evergreen bushes in yard (good anti-depressant effect during our rainy season!).

Great neighborhood: End of street has playground and picnic area being renewed / reinstalled and there are trails into Marshall Park that connect with Tryon Creek State Park - great for hikers, runners, dog-walkers, or just taking a stroll after dinner! Less than 5 miles from: downtown, OHSU, Tryon Creek, Lewis & Clark. Close to public transportation, freeway, bike-commute routes. Our street is paved - no ruts and mud in the winter! Good public schools Capitol Hill (K-5), Jackson Middle School (6-, Wilson High School (9-12). Elementary school is walking distance.

The best thing: This wonderful home is for sale! I will be posting some photos on my blog (see bottom of this post) as I get them organized. We will get it on the market in the next 2 months or so, but I thought I would open it up first to gardeners and permaculture lovers, since I have spent so much time making the yard fertile, edible, and beautiful. Email me if you are sincere about purchasing a home in the near future and you want a sneak-peek before it officially goes up for sale!

I love the home and have poured myself into the yard, but am moving for career reasons...


5 years ago
I live in southwest PDX, less than 5 miles from downtown, ~1/2 acre, front yard a veggie garden, 12 fruit trees, 15 berry bushes, perennial greens, composting. Working on water harvesting and hope to have chickens eventually. Neighbors with chickens and ducks. Someone nearby had a goat for a while as well. Don't know any other permies in the neighborhood, but plenty of random fruit trees, veggie gardeners, duck and chicken owners.

No sidewalks, but also no traffic, half mile from elementary school, 5 blocks to coffee, a tree-lined bicycle path to downtown. Or drop down to the waterfront for an alternate great ride to downtown.
6 years ago
I am permifying my 1/2 acre in Portland. If anyone has anything that works especially good for you here, please let me know, even just your most favorite one or two items. My 'works good' means that I will not have to work much once the plant is established, and it regularly produces acceptably tasty edibles; but your 'works good' can be defined as you please. As time is limited, I need a productive backbone in the yard and fewer items that may be more time consuming to care for, harvest, and prepare.

Hard to tell by reading if some things will produce in Portland. If anyone knows about any in this first list, and if any additional tidbits on taste or whatever, let me know about these especially:
-Any citrus edible from the tree - kumquat? owari satsuma mandarin?
-Paw Paw (hand pollinate?)
-Chilean guava
-Chilean wintergreen
-japanese yam
-cinnamon vine
-Tasmania vine

Also preparing to plant the following, which through reading these seem will grow and produce well:
-Stella dwarf cherry tree
-Asian persimmon
-hazel nuts or almonds
-strawberry tree (though I hear they taste so-so, but I like the looks of the evergreen tree, so I figure I can mix with other berries in recipes)
-bamboo, for edible shoots (any recommendations?)
-hardy kiwi
-table grapes
-numerous perennial veggies (sorrel, artichoke, etc..have the seeds, ready to plant!)
-numerous perennial (and annual) flowers and leaves for tea
-green tea shrub
-various berries

Already have:
-apples (though have to get the ecosystem better to prevent worms, bugs, etc)
-neighbors plums hanging over the fence
-raised beds for annual veggies

Any tidbits of info or experience always appreciated! I'm pretty new at all this, but devoted!
7 years ago
I built 2 feet high cinder block raised beds, about 12 foot long by 3 1/2 foot wide. Built 5 of them so can rotate types of plantings to prevent build up of various pests / diseases (or so I read, anyway). I built them well, and yes it was labor intensive and even costly, but I hope to be able to use them for many, many years to come. I am using surface binding cement to hold them together rather than mortar. Almost done building them. I will use them for various seasonal / annual veggies, not really for permaculture / permanent plantings - other parts of the yard are for that.

After I got them up, I dug down deeper within them, put in logs and branches on the bottom, then lots of layers of soil, leaves, twigs, a bunch of stuff that will compost in place. The layers should combine some of the purposes of hugelkulture, sheet mulching, and should also help improve my heavy clay soil. The cinder blocks should help extend the growing season by absorbing the sun's heat in winter and by giving me a place to stick in a cold frame.

Here are a couple photos of it, though not really showing all the layers of organics I put in there:

Brian in Portland, OR
7 years ago
I don't remember remember reading NOT to put fresh wood into hugelkulture beds.  I put a freshly felled Mimosa buried a few feet deep in a sunken, in-ground Hugel-Bed and only a month or so later up pops a new Mimosa tree!  Perhaps it depends on the type of tree??? 

I have other trees to cut down - should I dry them all first if to be used for Hugelkulture?

Is this a known way of tree re-propagation or copppicing?

First photo - parents-in-law doing the hard work.
Second photo - Next to the composter, a multi-branched, brand new Mimosa looking acting like I planted it on purpose.
7 years ago
Sure, I'll swap garden visits. I'm in SW Portland.  I'm new to gardening and permie, but am working feverishly on my yard and have a vision! Not sure how to contact through this forum; can email me at
7 years ago