Saturday 27 October 2012

First Permaculture Experiments in Crete

Spring in Crete
Having spent the winter months in the UK, catching up with friends and family we could hardly wait for the direct flights to Crete to start again for the new season. Whilst we had been in the UK no progress had been made with the Archaeology Department regarding our proposed house so we made the decision to catch the first flight of the season out to Crete to check out the lack of progress.

Upon arrival we were greeted with masses of wild flowers and lush green mountain sides, as well as snow covered mountains with the local river in full flow. This contrasted with the very dry arid landscape we had left in October the previous year. Our accommodation had a balcony, and since I had brought with us a few packets of seed I decided I would try a few experiments with what I could or could not grow on this balcony. I decided from the outset that I would try to use recycled containers for these experiments. Whilst the weather was sunny there were cool winds most days so I decided to start small.

Small beginnings

In trying to keep costs down, and not knowing where to obtain organic growing compost, I decided to keep my eyes open for alternatives. In a wander out one afternoon I discovered a large pile of "dirt" that had obviously been pushed to the side of the road. From previous observations I realised that this was the result of the exceptional rainfall over the winter washing down topsoil from the surrounding hills. I therefore returned with a couple of recycled containers and a hand fashioned digging tool to collect sufficient to start me off growing in Crete.

The family grows

As we slowly accumulated  more recycled containers so I was able to sow a variety of herbs and vegetables. Even though there was plenty of sun I decided in order to give the seeds the best chance of germinating I tried warming the soil using old clear plastic bags. The results of this were mixed as, whilst the earth was kept damp and warm to aid germination in a couple of cases I did not get the bags off at the first sign of green shoots with the result that the hot sun baked the poor seedlings.

In addition to herbs I was bringing on tomatoes, squashes, courgettes peppers and eggplants plus a couple of mints I had found and had taken a couple of bits of root.

On the move
By the end of April we decided that we needed to find some longer term accommodation so the yield from my very enjoyable and rewarding pottering around had to be packed up and moved to our new accommodation which had a larger terrace and hence more opportunity to progress my first growing in Crete experiment. More to follow.