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Maui monoculture, permaculture recovery HELP!!

 
James Wheeler
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ALOHA PERMIES!!

I am lucky enough to have the chance to offset my living expenses with a wonderful project of setting up a permaculture design for a plot of land in Launiopoko looking over Lahaina on the west side of Maui. It is very dry and air conditions right now. Half rock half dry lifeless soil.

Goals.

Retain water - build soil diversity - produce food - medicine - TEACH OTHERS!!

I am looking for productive guild ideas for my tropical settings. I plan on holding water and building hugelculture swales on contour. Spiral herb gardens look great as well.

I will post pictures and maybe a google maps over head to get some suggestions on design.

Thank you for this awesome resource of info!

 
James Wheeler
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Overhead view of the property.
NCM_0098.JPG
[Thumbnail for NCM_0098.JPG]
 
Su Ba
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Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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Aloha James! Looks like will be a challenging project but luckily you have piped in water to that area. I do not live on Maui but I've been there enough to know that those hills are hot, dry, and can be windy. The sun and wind can suck the water right out of the soil in a hurry. So a vertical garden may need some sort of drip irrigation or regular watering to prevent it from baking dry. If you do install some sort of drip irrigation, then a good layer of mulch may be an option to help retain that moisture and shade the soil so that any micro organisms you introduce can survive. Or maybe use a living mulch of some sort. As you've most likely observed, the soil in the region has very little organic material and has been sun sterilized for eons.

Not far from the area, commercial pineapples have been successfully produced with the aid of irrigation and fertilizer. So growing stuff can be done if you come up with the right inputs and choose the right plants. I don't know if plastic mulch was used at the pineapple plantation above Lahaina, but I've seen it being used on the Oahu pineapple plantation to help retain moisture.

Sounds like the project should be a good one. And you'll also have a chance to enjoy a bit of Hawaii too! Keep us posted. I'm quite interested.

...Su Ba
www.kaufarmer.blogspot.com
 
Su Ba
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Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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James, is the landowner primarily interested in food production? Or are they just interested in permaculture type landscaping?
 
James Wheeler
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The Land owner is skeptical of all of my permaculture suggestions. He is old school. PERFECTLY maintained golf course style lawn, trees all planted in grid formation.

I have showed up with my large A frame level searching and marking out contour lines. I guess my game plan is to re-hydrate the soil using swales on contour. Hopefully hugel swales if I can get a good flow of organic material. I plan to start with one swale fed by my out door shower.

I am looking at perennial peanut and pigeon pea for ground cover and living mulch. I am also going to try all kinds of air layering from local fruit trees!

I AM EXCITED ABOUT THE WHOLE THING!

Also searching for a permaculture design course.
I have an application in with La'akea
 
James Wheeler
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I want to concentrate on building water catchment, ground cover, wind break, HEAVY MEDICINAL, Fruit trees and relaxation areas. Maybe a natural swimming pond or two. These are things that I have in mind.
 
S Bengi
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Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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I would start off with swales to lower you water needs.
And then a mono culture of dutch clover for the grass look.
Followed by trees planted in a hexagon grid.
Due to the fact that it is so dry I would advise against raised beds, raised hugelkulture, try and keep things level or better sunken.

Plants in the cactus family (pineapple), mint family (thyme, oregano) and palms (dates, coconut) should do well.
Figs, pomegranate, muscadine grapes, passion-fruit. The Acacia family is good for dry climate nitrogen fixing.

Check out this site for plants to use
http://toptropicals.com/html/toptropicals/catalog/catalog.htm
 
Su Ba
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Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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James, La'akea is in the rainforest, so keep that in mind if you attend their course. Ask specific questions with regard to desert permaculture. It's not in their experience but some of their people might have worked in a desert situation before. All of their direct experience is with areas much wetter, less windy, and less exposed than Lahaina.

Just some hints : Perennial peanut should do fine there. Plus it will survive even if the irrigation conks out. Some palms will do fine in that exposed location but I'm no palm expert, so I don't know which ones. Variegated pineapple will do real well, but it bleaches out in full sun. For a nice visual effect, it does better in the shade or partial shade. Regular pineapples do best in sun.

Raised beds of any kind will battle the dryness and wind. Plants will do much better at ground level or slightly sunken beds. Come to think if it, sunken beds can have a nice visual effect.

If the owner is looking for lawn, I'm not sure if clover is the best choice as a starter. There are a number of tropical grasses available here and some do better in the desert than others. But you're right, getting that ground covered from the direct sun is of major importance. Centuries of sun has effectively sterilized the soil in that region.

You sound like you have quite a project! It should be really interesting. I'd love to hear updates as you go along!
 
This parrot is no more. It has ceased to be. Now it's a tiny ad:

The permaculture playing cards make great stocking stuffers:
http://richsoil.com/cards


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