Hugo Morvan

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since Nov 04, 2017
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I am a carpenter/mason/gardener etc, living in France, Morvan. Have small garden with about 200 different plantspecies a small natural pond, wild fish. Share a veggie plot/tree nurserie/mushroom grow operation with a local bio cattle ranger, it is being turned into a permaculture style bio diversity reserve. Seed saving and plant propagation are important factors.
Every year i learn to use more of my own produce, cooking it, potting it up. As well as medicinal herbs/balms. Try to be as self sufficient as financially possible without getting into debt. Spreading the perma culture life style and mind set, which is the only sustainable path forward on this potentially heaven of a planet we are currently ravaging with our short sighted and detached material world views which lead to depression, loneliness, illness, poverty and madness.
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Recent posts by Hugo Morvan

I've managed to kill quite a few willow cuttings by putting them in soil that is on a quite dry spot during a record dry year. Still two survivors on a spot where there's less wind blowing. They've been going for some years now and are still not half as happy as the same type of willow growing in wetter circumstances. But they are very strong and will in time become very happy. It's us! We don't wish to wait.

Rooting hormones don't do that much in my experience. In my cutting rooting bed i stick a few willow sticks for rooting improvements.

It keeps surprising me how strong willow is. I've improvised some climbing racks for snap peas this year. After having left the pruning outside during this wet cold winter, they're sprouting somewhat! I expect them to die over summer, but if it turns out another wet summer i expect some to live.
16 hours ago
Indoor, you can grow in winter too. I've heard some flower after 5/6 weeks. It's just a little idea you know. Something one could do inside which is like what i would do if i would not have all this land to take care of and would study... But it's very meaningful work, because we need crosses which are robust and need no pesticides. Just my nerdy take on permaculture.. Never mind.
Whatever you do with all the great things people suggest, good luck.
1 week ago
You could start growing some crop plants indoor like climbing beans or tomatoes and make crosses.You could look for gardeners close by and give them a lending hand, most people on land are old, you're young and fit. Schedule a PDC course in summer holidays that does an exchange for work and doesn't charge much or nothing.
1 week ago
The best worm composting is the fastest one. I've got a lazy system with many many worms, because i don't really use the compost that much. It's a big mass. I believe that that is important. In the big mass, worms can migrate. In case of drought and frost they move into the bottom. I've just build some retaining walls out of breeze blocks. And keep adding. I don't do a lot of turning but dig a hole to dump the weekly scraps into. Everything that ever was alive goes in.
I take out a few buckets a year to make aerated compost teas and multiply all the biodiversity the compost offers a thousand times.. But i realise it's a rare luxury. Most people are constantly scraping for every bit of compost available. I got a neighbor who provides cow dung, so i use that if i need a quick fix.
The bigger the mass became, the more worms it contained.
I see people who are very busy with their wormeries, me five minutes a week.
3 weeks ago
Rufaro, that's a big shame! I believe every extreme soil type or climate should have their own seed developed especially for that soil type and climate. It used to be in Europe farmers would exchange seeds. I would really have expected that still to be widely used in rural Africa, of which i apparently know little.
The exchanges from farmers only happened with varieties that did well in the area, and because there where different varieties doing the rounds, they would freely cross and over time their offspring would get better and better adapted to the local circumstances. But then moodern agriculture took over, the Green Revolution, as they call it! It really was the chemical revolution and man thought we could change the soil, but we made it worse. And modern varieties need more protection then ever, more expensive inputs. You nicely work your way around it being a permaculture farmer. Doing well.
If we get some good results in arid areas, wiyh our breeder group, would you be interested in trying to grow out some? Just a few, to see how they do? If the post system will allow..I will tell you if i come across an African source of biological seeds. I only know in South Africa, but they were very much based on Swiss or French seeds, which is very different, although it seems to work.
1 month ago
I'm a builder in France, but have no experience building a Wofati.
Is it like a one floor house into a berm facing south with a glass construction in front that heats up the house?
And does it have a roof carrying an extremely heavy load of earth?

I think most important is the foundation of it. If you're on clay, it could be difficult to support such an extremely heavy roof.
But if it's rock based, the problem will be getting permission, and that starts with great architectural sound drawings.
What does it matter if info is US based? US is gigantic, there is so much diversity there, maybe even more than in the whole of Europe.
Everybody has to recalculate the height and width of the beams and the carrying strength they have. If in doubt over-proportionate.
You'll first have to really study some drawings, come up with your own design and then ideally attract some mad greenminded architects that like a challenge which can recalculate your ideas. Because if you need a permit for something as unusual as a Wofati, they're going to be total arseholes.
They bureaucrats are all about discouraging any alternative house building. The powers that be need you in concrete blocks costing you half your life to pay back, while selling your soul to the system. They'd fucking hate it if people would find a way to start living in houses of under 20 thousand euro's. We'd be free. I'd love to be wrong and know people that would move to Lithuania if it's easy.

Basicly your frame carrying the roof has got to be super super strong. Like a box that could self support and would stand on it's own. I mean just the strong beams. The walls have to be connected to it and ideally not fall over. Hehe. I think a big thing is what consists the hill out of? Is it rock of mud with rock. Rock you can just render with sand / chalk cement with a natural pigment. But water coming through the rock could be a problem. Then you need a drainage system and a wall in front of that wall and ventilation in the space between the wall and the rockwall. If it's all horrible loose stuff you'll have to work on keeping that in place, maybe even poor a reinforced slighly sloping cement retaining wall. (Yeah i know cement causes CO2, but you not living a slave life working for the system will safe tons of it). Then still you could have condensation problems.

Anyway, i'll stop talking now and leave it up to all the experienced wofati builders to say something clever.
Hope this helps.
1 month ago
Hello Rufaro. Good to see you're doing well with the land.
I wondered what seeds you use? Do you buy commercially bred or do you safe your own?
I'm asking because i'm part of a breeders collective and we have a new member up in Aleria who has quite a hard time sourcing seed companies which will ship internationally. And in Africa sadly there isn't a lot of choice, then i thought to ask you!
1 month ago
Hi Melissa, your conditions are very difficult, have you tried landrace seeds from indigenous tribes? They're naturally more diverse and resilient than industrial seeds. I've heard people in dry conditions say they look for plants that will grow in high desserts to make sure they'll grow where they are.
I've done a lot of road side collection of plants. Every time i passed flowering plants or trees or shrubs i didn't know i stopped, took a bit, or photos, just looked it up, there's apps now that can help. Then i brought back some seeds or cut lose a bit of the plant and moddycoddled it in the garden.
The benefits are numerous. Insects will come and take refuge in your garden, they often surpress other populations of insects, so a balance gets in place. Because of the insects more birds came, leaving fertilizer with droppings in which sometimes seeds are as well. If i brought soil i brought underground soil life, insects again, but more so bacteria and fungi that cooperate in ways modern science is only starting to discover.
After a while people started helping with bringing in diversity. I dug a pond.
Then one day a farmer came up and proposed we do a project together, because he loved the biodiversity.
1 month ago
I've used it quite some years in my pathways and it does take over the beds too and gets into the herbs i use as mini hedges as well. But i've learned to live with it. It's a good dew collector in hot summers, on the pathways i dump straw on it. But in the beds i can't because i try to get spontaneous sprouting plants and like to throw seeds around. I've made a special small width hoe to keep the precious plants clean and in spring i just take the heavy hoe and make trenches in it. By the time it grows back, the plants are quite high. I'm quite worried it's got alleopathic properties though, SO quite some negatives ein total, but the nitrogenfixing ,soil cooling and dew collection make up for it.
1 month ago
How did it pan out Chris? My chamomile just pops up by itself here and there on half a hectare and slowly grows over winter, not minding quite hard freezes either.. I plan on throwing some different varieties out tomorrow. Trying to cross the local variety with bigger sweeter commercial ones.
1 month ago