nice thread, have only scanned it but will go back and watch more of the vids.
the lenses seem like a good idea however one drawback is you've ended up with huge spaces between the trees. not sure you need to change the lenses but maybe plant the very hardiest trees higher up the crater. you want 3 or 4 trees or bushes per sq yard so they can shade the ground and invade the soil with biomass. you can have favourites and cull extra as the favourites grow. you want your trees to touch at the edge of the canopy from the outset.
moringa isn't partuclarly drought tolerant as a sapling. once it's a year or two old it stores water in a thick taproot. mesquite is a good choice. can you plant yucca, prickly pear and agave too, these are the ultimate drought survivors.
try fig trees. like moringa they need water for their first year but once man high they are expert at finding deep water.
what you're doing seems to be working, particularly the attitude of trying a methodology, observing and adjusting. i think you are near the point where the success will snowball.
I'm on a subtropical spanish island next to the Sahara desert. Can grow all year round. Melons, corn, moringa and papayas don't do a lot during "winter" (which is like a north european summer but with short days). spinach, peas and lettuce struggle during summer unless in shade of trees. just grow stuff a couple of zones down in winter but remember daylight hours will drop.
in general stuff grows in conditions where google says it won't, given enough trial and error, so try it and help out with windbreaks etc.
yes, you can use an inverter at below its rated capacity. it's good to do so as that inverter is built for way more amps than you're putting thru so will run cooler and more efficiently than an inverter that's only just sized for your appliance.
get a pure sine wave inverter. these are MUCH more efficient than square/modified inverters.
be careful of ruining your car batt. if you run it below 12.4V and/or leave it discharged for any period of time then it will quickly deteriorate.
do you have difficulty starting the car with a deep cycle batt after running the voltage down to 11.8? or have you always had an opportunity to plug in and recharge?
consider the scenario of an unscheduled engine off eg a police stop just before you get home. it depends on how beefy your batt is but i'd be tempted to keep it above 12.4V both for confidence in starting and longevity of batt.
something to consider is flicking the switch to charge whenever slowing down with engine braking or coasting downhill.
start with what you know works - fig trees. plant loads of them and give them water to help them thru the first two or three summers. experiment with other plants amongst and below the fig trees. fig trees are easy to propagate, grow fast, tolerate aggressive pruning, and send deep roots, they are a gift as a pioneer tree in your setting.
Michael Cox wrote:I have recently returned from a trip to Tenerife which has similar fresh volcanic rocks.
Tenerife, my home.
the problem with lack of volunteer plants starting in the rock is the wind and lack of rain. and goats, lizards and rabbits.
a little help by excluding animals and providing water in the first summer or two can give a tree a great start, and then it will survive on its own.
the terraces are built from native rock. big rocks making the walls and crushed rock making up the "soil". the crushed rock, which i guess is like, or maybe the same as scoria, is called jable. its very light floats in water until it becomes water logged and has a porous structure with huge surface area a la biochar. its great but needs to become established to get the life going. there is probably no place on earth as productive as a tenerife jable terrace, once you have it started. most sun hours per year of any place on earth, no winter and volcanic rock dust for free. i pay 81 cents per cubic metre of water. mountain ranwater via a reservoir and agricultural pipe network.
that soil is great. same as mine. no need to import soil. dig or drill down, add water, plant a small pioneering N fixing tree in the dust or sand created by digging/drilling. place a 2 gallon plastic bottle over it (after cutting off top n bottom of bottle) to protect from critters.
let the roots of stuff you plant grow your soil.
there's plenty of green stuff in your foto which proves you can grow there.
Brett Andrzejewski wrote:I had come to the same conclusion about the concrete pots. I never plan to waste my time with them again.
I have some ideas on pot design for subsurface irrigation and concrete is easy and cheap to prototype with. I'm aware concrete is porous and might need to be sealed. Just how wasteful are such pots? It's only the base that will be concrete whilst the upper part exposed to the air will be an off the shelf plant pot.
I'd rather lose a bit of water than double the complexity by sealing the concrete. After prototyping I'd be more willing to seal or perhaps avoid concrete altogether.
Get some shade and ground cover using RGGS and wicking beds. These are very efficient with water and slightly less complicated to build than hydroponics. You need to do whatever you can to grow something so you can get started with some biomass. The RGGS/wicking output (branch trimmings, leaves etc) can get you started with material for mulch, compost to build your sand into soil.
interesting thread. i was aware of the deep planting but this thread has brought up a couple of things i either missed or forgot last time i looked at this method...
1) putting the soil back in the order it was dug up
2) using the right type of hopi corn that has been selected for pushing thru nearly a foot of soil.
1) is easy, I'll try that... but how important is 2)?
With bog standard corn, do i just plant more in the hole to get more chance of success, or can i go halves on the method going maybe 4 or 6 inches deep rather than 8 or 12?
The vid in your first post is exactly correct. he covers when you would and when you wouldn't connect to the load output of the controller.
in your case you're not going to pull 300W from the load output because it's a 20A controller and 20A x 12V =240W so that's the most the inverter will draw. Additionally what the inverter gives out will be somewhere between 120W & 240W depending on its efficiency.
A square wave (sometimes called modified sine wave) will be closer to 120W.
A pure sine wave will be closer to 240W.
6000W of solar PV panels is about $1500 - $2000
15kWh at nominal 12V is 1200Ah not 9000aH so about $3000 (actually 30kWh but you don't take the batts below 50%)
a 3kW mppt controller & inverter is $500 so $1000 for two
$5500 and you can probably start with half of the above then add the rest later if needed when you know more about what you need.
you need some fittings, cabling, fuses etc. the cost of this depends much on your homestead layout and your skills. call it another $1000.
buy small, buy cheap to learn. then spend your budget when you know what you need.
i get 320 days of full sun, it's a no brainer.
whether it's worth it for you depends on your local sun conditions.
I've found a key technique is planting the right selection of trees and plants. A very useful search term is "drought tolerant".
Although it is possible to shape your plot and tame the environment so you can plant more or less what you like, when you are starting in the desert, it's really important to just plant anything that will grow, to get some shade, windbreak, and to get a root network going. Put as much drought tolerant stuff in as you can, especially fast growing and nitrogen fixing, then grow the good stuff in its shade, downwind, nearby.
General rather than grape-specific girdling comment: My understanding when girdling is to not completely circle the trunk but to leave part of the bark intact so that water may still move upwards. When animals completely girdle a tree, a common result is death of the tree.
You don't need to prune roots. Prune the above ground portion of the least favoured competitor, and that plant's roots will die back to match, releasing organic matter to nourish the most favoured competitors.
How about using photosynthesis to convert sunlight, water and carbon dioxide to biomass eg a tree. The wood makes a great storage medium and can be burned when the energy is needed. Also carbon neutral if you're worried about that sort of thing.
I soak seeds. If instructions don't say to soak them I soak for 24 hrs I'd soak peas or bean seeds for 24 hrs. If instructions say soak for 24 hours I soak for 48 hrs. I soak them till they're noticeably swollen. If I am motivated enough I then put them on a wet cloth in a tray with a clear plastic cover somewhere warmish. These two things make seeds germinate for me. If I have soaked seeds for 24 hrs, and plant them in soil that was watered thoroughly 30 mins previously, I don't need to worry about watering them again until they germinate. We don't have winters, or frosts or much rain ever here, so I don't worry about mould or deal with seeds that need overwinting or cold strat.
Try the seed soaking thing and as already noted wait for some warm weather.
as long as you are not growing root or edible stem vegetables then why worry? I have not heard of anything undesirable such as lead being able to work its way up thru a plants roots and stem into the edible parts. The worms are alive right? Stick some trees in it and let nature carry on cycling whatever is in it. I'm talking from lay knowledge so don't blame me if you die of something nasty.
Hugo Morvan wrote:If it is and you would eat that, you would get sick in about two weeks and maybe the happy-go-lucky people you invited to your meal. It destroys your liver, is extremely painful and no anti-dote, after a terrible deathstruggle of say ten days you suddenly feel better, the next day you're dead.