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Reforestation - Growing trees in arid, barren lands - by Seeds and Clay cubes (no watering)

 
pollinator
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Hello Tim,

Above all - Be Well !!!

Kostas
 
Posts: 63
Location: North Idaho, zone 5a
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There is one particular plant I am after. It grows naturally in the mountains of Uzbekistan, extremely drought tolerant, thrives in poor soils, somewhat hardy (certainly below -10C) and produces tasty little apples about 2-3cm in diameter.
Does anyone grow those? I am not sure about the proper botanical name.
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Hello Tim,

the plant looks a lot like Crataegus. I can't see the leaves well, but that's my guess from the picture.

Cheers,
Lucía
 
Lucia Moreno
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Hi,

I just popped up to report that most of the 130 trees we planted in the fall have died from a very cold and dry winter followed by a very hot and dry spring. We planted forestry quality 1 year old trees of local species (from local seed). The few almond trees that sprouted from seed from our old almond trees (wonderful almonds) have also died from the lack of water. We are only watering the new trees in zone 1 (twice a week) and have left the rest to their own devices. So far, only P. terebinthus (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pistacia_terebinthus) seems to be surviving in non watered areas.

We had to start watering the kitchen garden in May this year. Chances are we won't make it to the next rains in September/October with our water reserves (27K liters). This only watering selected plants in zone 1.

It's discouraging, but I refuse to be discouraged!!

On a happier note, the whole of our land is working on succession after we removed grazing animals (and grass cutting machinery) from it 3 years ago. Both plant and animal species have diversified and we are seeing new plants everyday, lots of then biannuals and short lived perennials. We also have lots of new insects, specially butterflies, and a family of lizards has moved it. In the spring we also saw taupes.

My strategy for next fall will be to try pioneer trees and shrubs instead of local forest trees (that need shade when they are young) as well as to increase the water stores, since we do have plenty of water in the winter.

I'll keep you posted.

Lucía

 
Wi Tim
Posts: 63
Location: North Idaho, zone 5a
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Thanks, Lucia,
It's certainly a hawthorn variety. I guess I will have to ask a friend in Uzbekistan to send me a few seeds

Meanwhile, our drought has intensified - we are in "severe" drought right now, with "extreme" one on the horizon. I just keep watering. Tomatoes are doing great, by the way.
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Hello Lucia and Tim,

Sorry I been unable to respond sooner - sorry about all the difficulties you are facing - hoping they will soon pass.

The weather has been crazy all over the place - the rains that did not come your way, have all come to Greece,

This was by far, the wettest fall, winter, spring and early summer we have had - no one remembers more rain than we had this year - it felt like a monsoon season - every day rain. Now summer is here with high temperatures.

All this rain has helped the almond and apricots I placed this year sprout and do well - we have to wait and see how they survive the summer.

I planted about 60 new trees on the farm, and obviously they needed less water to get off the ground - I now water them about once a week.

The new seeds I tried this year to see if they will sprout, did not do well - I placed in the ground many tree seeds, we talked about in this forum such as Goji Berries, quince tree seeds etc - very few of them sprouted, and the ones that did have died - I will try them again, failure or success in just one year does not mean much - with all the rain you would think they would have all sprouted, but that's not the case.

In southern Greece the laburnum sprouted as did the wild pears - we will see how they do in the summer.

I am in the process of making some clay cubes for winter dispersal - I bought some apple and plum seeds from Italy, that I plan on planting.

I continue to be amazed by the wild summer plants I see around me - while all plants life dies from thirst, the cactus pears, the exploding cucumber, the Bermuda grass , the wild sorrel, silver leafed nightshade, mirabilis jalapa, the caper plants and mullein all do well - they thrive on the adversity of the summer heat and absence of rain - it's amazing.

"I refuse to be discouraged" - that's the spirit !!!

Stay well.

Kostas
 
Wi Tim
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Location: North Idaho, zone 5a
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Kostas,
I am glad your almonds and apricots are doing well.
I had a few trees sprouting and doing well in the irrigated area. I hope they are the offsprings of hardy varieties, though. Since all the stones from local and store-bought (and grown in milder climates) fruit go to compost, now I have no idea which ones have sprouted! Oh, well. Let's see if they make it through the winter.
 
Lucia Moreno
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I'm glad Greece got so much rain this year! We are learning a lot about our land and our water-saving choices this year, so even if everything dies, we will not have wasted our time. It is still very hot: the tomatoes are not fruiting, as the pollen is not viable in hot temperatures. I have shaded the vegetable patch. However, plants in our new terraced bed are doing great so we now know to keep building them. We are designing a way to use our old swimming pool (not in use) as a water reservoir and other ideas. We have also commited to getting as much vegetables and fruit in fall and spring and limit, or even eliminate, summer crops entirely. Nature here was two growing seasons: spring and fall. In winter, it hivernates and in summer it estivates. We are basically planning to do the same, maybe we will keep a small summer vegetable patch in zone 1.

Lots of strengh, faith and luck to everybody,
Lucía
 
Posts: 113
Location: Gaines County, Texas South of Seminole, Tx zone 7b
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dog greening the desert trees
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Maybe I should start doing tree seeds on my land now. Since I have been back home for two years I am starting to see a nice difference. I am also seen many more rabbits that are around. and evidence of many more plus quail moving in this year. I even notice the other day that the vegetation is staying longer through out the year since it is usually by mid June and everything browning due to no rain. but I took some pictures this week and the end of July and still seeing some vegetation green although in the process of wilting due to the heat. here is an example of it now in the pictures below. I am doing this with out irrigation as of right now do not have the funds to have a higher electric bill through pumping water up and haven't had the chance to get something to break up the rock on my land to make swales yet.

 photo IMAG0255_zps8ld4ik5o.jpg/></a>
 
Lucia Moreno
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James, I have a problem with rock and shallow soil in my land and I can't do swales, either. Do you know about African rock lines? They work a little like swales and you lay them on top of the soil. Here's a blog entry on that in my blog: http://unasuertedetierra.blogspot.com.es/2014/06/erosion-en-el-prado-grande.html. It's in Spanish, but just scroll down to the video and you'll get a clear idea. I'm doing it (but with old tree trunks) in my land.

Cheers,
Lucía
 
Wi Tim
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Location: North Idaho, zone 5a
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We had pretty good rains recently, so I am not too worried about the non-irrigated part of the property for now!
We are also doing great regarding wildlife. A few bird feeders during the winter and a few birdhouses make wonders to bird population as well as mice, squirrels and chipmunks. Rabbits like vegetables and green manure. Gophers, ground squirrels and deer love the fruit trees. Yellow jacket wasps really enjoy the raspberries. Everyone is happy (but me )
 
James Everett
Posts: 113
Location: Gaines County, Texas South of Seminole, Tx zone 7b
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Lucia Moreno if the picture you see above is in soil that is maybe an inch and the rest is a 40+ foot layer of Caliche rock if you look at the other post you will see part of the land dug out and my pick up in it you can see how thin the layers of soil is yet these are the trees growing into it.

Look in this thread and you can see the picture:
http://www.permies.com/t/46459/desert/USA-greatly-benefit-forest-planting
 
Lucia Moreno
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James, I see what you mean. Now the question is, is your land as it is right now already in its native ecosystem or is the lack of soil the result of degradation? If your land is a desert naturally, you should aim to preserve and boost it. If your land is this way as a result of degradation, then what you are stepping on should be buried under feet of soil. The key is not to dig swales, but to build soil. Don't go down, but up. Build barriers on contour: stone lines or tree trunks on contour or whatever you can get cheap, and plant uphill of those, you will build up soil faster. Plant trees that break down rock and nitrogen fixers.


Good luck!
Lucía
 
James Everett
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Location: Gaines County, Texas South of Seminole, Tx zone 7b
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land here at one point used to be a sea bed as you can see by they layers of caliche. Other then that the land for many years was used by ranchers for the most part. Also in the Early 1900s before oil field and farming started using well water the Draws here used to have natural springs but got dried up as the water has been being pumped out. So in a way it is Degraded by several factors.
 
Posts: 562
Location: South Tenerife, Canary Islands (Spain)
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James, good work and very encouraging. I too am planting trees in solid rock. Early days yet for me, major problem is lizards eating anything that is less than a foot off the ground. Also got rabbits and goats to contend with. Fencing requires an architect, officials, and fees.



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Konstantinos Karoubas
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What can I say Steve,

I am amazed at your spirit,

Go for it - we are with you

Kostas
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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An excellent book I finally got my hands on - explains how we got here - I am enclosing 4 pages, I hope they are readable - the book is by Roger Sands, Forestry in a Global Context.

The rise and fall of civilizations is directly linked to how well they treat the land - forests in arid zones do not easily recover if they are destroyed.

Kostas
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Cover
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Pages 12 n 13
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Pages 14 n 15
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Lets try it again
Filename: 12.pdf
Description: page 12
File size: 486 Kbytes
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Konstantinos Karoubas
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One more Page
Filename: 15.pdf
Description: page 15
File size: 432 Kbytes
 
Posts: 71
Location: Italy
forest garden trees
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Very interesting
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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The issue of land degradation described in detail by Plato - nothing was learned and no action taken to reverse the trend - which continues to the present day.

Kostas

Filename: pg-22.pdf
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Hey,

I would love try doing something like this on Fuerteventura. It's a desert island, stones, rock, mountains.

Three questions:

1. Where do I get the seeds ? Appearently seeds from supermarket fruits do not work?
2. Goats. They roam everywhere, I am wondering if it's not a waste of time, because the goats will just destroy anything above the ground?
3. Location - I was thinking of places along the trenches made by run-off water from the mountains?

 
Steve Farmer
Posts: 562
Location: South Tenerife, Canary Islands (Spain)
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Hi Parito, I'm also in the Canary Islands and up against the same things. Do you have an area at/near home where you can protect and nurture the young trees before planting them out in the desert? I'd recommend fig trees instead of almonds or peaches at first. You can find baby fig trees round the base of mature trees. Dig 15cm if poss so you get a good bit of root with the sapling and stick in a pot out of direct sun for a few week. Take off all the leaves except the top one or two.

I get seeds from trees nearby and also from ebay.co.uk. There is no legal issue with bringing seeds in from anywhere else in the EU. I have also had seeds come from other continents but there is a risk customs might stop them.

For trees from seeds try moringa oliefera, leucania leucocephala, gliricidia sepium, mesquites and acacias. These are all drought tolerant nitrogen fixers available cheap on ebay, and with good germination rates in our climate. Soak the seeds for 36 hrs in warm water (very hot to boiling for acacia) Get a clear plastic sandwich box from the Chinese shop. Place the lid upside down and put damp kitchen towel on it, seeds on that, then click the box onto the lid so u've got a "greenhouse" and stick it in the sun. Change the paper towel every day or two to avoid mouldy seeds. Any that sprout, stick em in soil in a pot in full sun. Any not sprouted after ten days, soak them another 24 hrs and repeat.

Also put some aloe veras and prickly pears in the patch of desert you are working with, these help add organic material to the ground, and protect against wind erosion.
I've put a couple of palms and yuccas in too, they look nice but they're not as efficient users of water, or fast growers, or as good for the "soil" as the other plants I've mentioned.

Chop the bottom off 8 litre water bottles and use as tree protectors (with lids off). Goats are bad but rabbits and lizards are worse, so mesh wont do.

Post some fotos, and check out the facebook page in my sig. Good luck and enjoy.

Edit - saw this is your first post, so a big unofficial welcome from me.
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Parito Cozy
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Thanks Steve,

Appreciate your advice. I guess I will start with seeds from ebay and pot growing at home, and then moving them outside into the desert.

Now that I've seen plenty of permaculture videos I am really convinced islands like Fuerteventura could be reforested. There is not a lot of rain at all here, just 97mm per year (300 mm in Tenerife). I am sure there's more water up the mountains it's just all of it runs off quickly into the ocean, and you can see HUGE trenches (not sure what is the actual name for those) 5-6 meters deep going all the way to the coast.

I assume figs are able to thrive in this climate, now that you suggest it? Should I look for a particular variety or just any fig seeds? I have very limited experience (growing some herbs, tomatoes) but would love to learn more about trees.

Par






 
Steve Farmer
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Location: South Tenerife, Canary Islands (Spain)
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forest garden greening the desert trees
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I just cut the baby trees that grow round the base of the existing fig tree in the garden, no idea what type it is, but it survives here ok. Maybe some of your neighbours have some.

Yes it's a shame to see the parched countryside with no one making any effort to grow trees, and then witness billions of tonnes of water flowing to the sea when it rains.
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Hello Steve,

In our lifetime, we need to plant zillions of trees.

How do you forsee that this can be accomplished on your part of the world ?

What method - how ? - as you go about your magnificent effort, think and help us find better solutions to mass reforestation.

Kostas
 
Steve Farmer
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I think the first step is to demonstrate that it can be done and secondly to show people how (and sometimes how not) to do it. Once it registers as a possibility others might take action, either landowners looking to improve their own patch, or people who care about the world at large working on public or abandoned lands.

Just as you Kostas have inspired myself and others with your efforts to plant trees, maybe someone will see the photos and descriptions I am posting, and decide they would like to do something similar. In a couple of years I should have some results worthy of showing people around, maybe people in the local government or farming cooperatives, or prospective landowners or neighbours... I'm confident this patch of land will be a better place soon, and that other plots can be similarly improved, and I will be sure to evangelise about the value of planting trees.
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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That sounds very good Steve - it's a good way to go and to think - I am sure the land will greatly benefit from your presence, and you will enrich your own life by undertaking this effort.

I was just wandering, about what can be done in your area and elsewhere, to make our efforts easier and to magnify/multiply the outcome - for instance, would cactus pads grow from seed, even if its placed in a cracks between the rocks - so instead of planting one cactus pad, with the same time and effort you can grow 100?

One person can have a tremendous impact on his environment - in this case for the good - just like a match can burn a whole forest in an instant, in the middle of a hot, windy August day, a man with a seed can start a new forest - its takes a lot longer, and it's much harder to create, than to destroy.

I was just thinking, that is all.

Kostas
 
Posts: 104
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Steve Farmer wrote:

For trees from seeds try moringa oliefera, leucania leucocephala, gliricidia sepium, mesquites and acacias. These are all drought tolerant nitrogen fixers available cheap on ebay, and with good germination rates in our climate. Soak the seeds for 36 hrs in warm water (very hot to boiling for acacia) Get a clear plastic sandwich box from the Chinese shop. Place the lid upside down and put damp kitchen towel on it, seeds on that, then click the box onto the lid so u've got a "greenhouse" and stick it in the sun. Change the paper towel every day or two to avoid mouldy seeds. Any that sprout, stick em in soil in a pot in full sun. Any not sprouted after ten days, soak them another 24 hrs and repeat.

Also put some aloe veras and prickly pears in the patch of desert you are working with, these help add organic material to the ground, and protect against wind erosion.
I've put a couple of palms and yuccas in too, they look nice but they're not as efficient users of water, or fast growers, or as good for the "soil" as the other plants I've mentioned.



Hey all,

Just trying to find if you have a source for Moringa being a nitrogen fixer. I haven't seen that. Also, In my comparisons of Moringa Oleifera vs Moringa Peregrina, I highly recommend the peregrina over the oleifera--i've had higher germination rates, better survival, and quicker growth from the peregrina. The leaves aren't as big, so in terms of forage won't provide as much as the Oleifera, but the seeds are 50% oil, and the flowers are really great for honey (that's based more on my reading than on experience--mine aren't even a year old yet). Also, I did direct seeding with the Peregrina--over 90% germination rate despite temps in the low 40s (C)

Another species that does well in rocky soil and a similar climate is Pithecellobium Dulce--the pods are edible and the leaves are decent forage. In Mexico they use the pods for drinks--here in the Middle East they just eat them.

Neal

 
Steve Farmer
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Hi Neal, glad you asked that, i've been trying to confirm the n-fixing of moringa since reading your post and looks like it's a misconception due to moringa's legume-like characteristics and appearance. I'm going to have to rejig my planting layout as some of my planned fruit trees were slated to have moringa neighbours on one side under the n-fixing belief. It's early days for my project so it's not a big problem. I'll still incorporate the moringas as they have high surviveability and will bring fast shade and windbreaks to my plot in return for little water. I recently added palo verde to my list of n-fixers and already have obtained seeds so will switch these into the previously planned support tree slots that moringa was set to fill. Glad I found this out now instead of in 3 months time so thanks for your post.

How is your plantation doing Neal? I'm a regular visitor to your blog and fb page and would love to see more frequent updates, great work you are doing.
 
Neal Spackman
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Hi Steve,

Our most frequent updates at the moment are on the instagram page: instagram.com/al_baydha. We've had 3 rainfalls in the last month, which is our first series of summer rains since I got here 5 years ago. It's been enough to irrigate our trees for another 4.5 years, so I may actually consider planting more in the winter and adding to our water budget.

Come to think of it, i have seen research that some types of ziziphus are N-fixing. Might be another one to add. Ziziphus Honey here sells for over 100 dollars a pound.

Neal
 
Posts: 74
Location: London, Ontario, Canada - zone 6a
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I don't have much experience with this topic, but I do want to add this video to the thread, watching it inspired me deeply and I hope it has a similar effect on all you good people.
https://youtu.be/v_7yEPNUXsU
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Welcome to Neal and Amjad,

Neal, a quick question, what plant life grows there, without any human assistance at all, from seed?

Trees shrubs, plants, weeds - anything - what can be used for ground cover.

Are you aware of anything ?

Have you tried pacing any of the seeds we mentioned here ?

Kostas
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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A quote from Masanobu Fukuoka, San from Sowing Seeds in the Desert - wise man, wise words, worth trying.

I would mix the seeds of all plants–forest trees, fruit trees, perennials, vegetables, grasses and legumes–as well as ferns, osses, and lichens, and sow them all at once across the desert.

Kostas
 
Posts: 251
Location: Virginia,USA zone 6
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Neal Spackman wrote:

We've had 3 rainfalls in the last month, which is our first series of summer rains since I got here 5 years ago. It's been enough to irrigate our trees for another 4.5 years, so I may actually consider planting more in the winter and adding to our water budget.

Neal



Hi Neal, I follow you on instagram and do enjoy your update. Based on the rains you mention 4.5 years of irrigation. Where does your irrigation source come from? Are you storing rain water? Also how are the gabions up the wadi holding up?
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Hello everyone,

I came across an interesting article in NY Times - the article says - Deforestation leads to droughts - maybe the world is catching up !!!

Now the thought that reforestation leads to rain... !!!

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/11/opinion/sunday/deforestation-and-drought.html?_r=0


Kostas
 
pollinator
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Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
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Another canary bird! Hi Par!
Well, in those dry island, they already have some traditional agriculture, they sow in picón, cover with stones, make walls against the wind. Wine is famous, and also onion cultivation, apart from cactus and aloe of course.

So I owuld suggest to start with advise from the local people, find the right ones.

Also, some islands at least have germ banks, providing local seeds, and I even got fig trees.
This year I tried "millo de Lanzarote". It is quite short to resist wind.
Ther result was not good because this year was a little wet in summer, and also I guess they do not keep seeds from big enough fields. I had 1m plants, and also 2 meters.

Isn't fig better with air layering?

I also look for pithecelobium dulce seeds! It sounds interesting.
 
Xisca Nicolas
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Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
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This of the moringa....
This is a BRASSICALES!
I plant it as a big cabbage.

It will resist drought ONLY in a very deep soil for its tap root.
I noticed that it needs water like a vegetable, or else you cannot get good leaves.
Too dry and they get yellow.
Too wet and they get yellow...

Yes they regrow after "dying", but if you want to eat something, you need water for it.

Also, here I have dry weather, little rain, but sometime marine air, so wet air wthout rain, and not even bruma in general.
But but but, I do not have hot temps. Usually 28, 30.
So still no moringa seeds this year...
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Hello Xisca,

Here is another interesting item.

In 1907, they built a 2000 mile fence to keep rabbits out of the farmland in Australia. So for 2000 miles, on one side you have cultivated land, and on the other you have native vegetation.

The documented result is that clouds stay on the native vegetation side - 20 % less precipitation. No trees, leads to reduced rain fall.

The folly of modern agriculture and the wisdom of natural farming becomes apparent.

See

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/14/science/earth/14fenc.html

https://www.google.gr/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&ved=0CCUQFjABahUKEwibkrG1isDIAhVCtBoKHXkeB1E&url=https%3A%2F%2Floe.org%2Fimages%2Fcontent%2F070928%2FBunny%2520Fence%2520Experiment.doc&usg=AFQjCNF-Ir5WEWOZYm1jiWP_tNCuljqoYw&sig2=FPaflTeAMSYjwHbpHEy2Bw


Kostas
 
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@ kostas, they made an interesting movie about that, a long time ago. i forgot the name of it now....

*edit * turns out it was obvious ----> rabbit proof fence
 
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